Enshrining ambiguous language into the Missouri constitution opens the door to lawsuits challenging important animal welfare laws.
The so-called “Right to Farm” amendment does nothing to protect Missouri’s family farms, but it does create legal grounds to protect puppy mills. Under the guise of protecting Missouri farms, in its original form, the upcoming Amendment 1 would have barred local health department from conducting animal health and safety inspections at commercial breeding facilities and prevented Missouri citizens from voting on future initiatives involving animals.
Thankfully, advocacy groups, such as the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, have been successful in watering down the most harmful elements in the bill. As it currently stands, Amendment 1 only ensures Missourians the right to do something they have been doing for centuries: farming.
Farming in Missouri is not in danger. The state ranks second in the nation in total number of farms, with 66% of land in the state used for farming. According to the University of Missouri, the average value of an acre of farmland in Missouri has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Despite this, proponents of Amendment 1 claim the amendment is necessary to protect Missouri farmers from meddling outside interests.
More than likely, however, the one real result Amendment 1 will achieve is an increase in lawsuits as courts will be left to sift through the murky language on the ballot. When voters go to the polls, their ballot will read:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?”
With wording so vague as to be meaningless, Amendment 1 will inevitably rely on courts to determine the meaning of its intent, which opens the door to challenges against existing animal welfare laws from large-scale dog breeders who believe such regulations infringe on their constitutional right to “farm.”
While the immediate impact of the amendment will largely go unnoticed, the Animal Protective Association of Missouri opposes any legislation that aims to loosen restrictions surrounding commercial dog breeders or weaken protections in animal welfare.
Please stand with the APA on August 5 and vote no on Amendment 1.
Learn the origins of Amendment 1, and find out how you can help protect Missouri’s companion animals by visiting www.maal.org for more information.