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Missourians Vote on a Right to Farm Amendment

August 4, 2014

I grew up with an Irish Setter and two German Shepherds. My wife Carol had a Boxer named Rocky. So far, though, our family has but one pet, an imaginary cat named Mittens. Candidly, our four kids seem to be more than enough.

A few years ago in an attempt to put an end to some argument with our oldest daughter, we promised that we would get a dog when she turned eleven. In the spring, we will make good on our promise. We welcome your suggestions for breed, and perhaps even a name.

I met a guy in 2010 while working a Jefferson County poll. His name was Wayne Pacelle. He was wearing expensive loafers and shaking hands. As he pressed the flesh, he introduced himself. "Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States." Wayne was working the polls in support of the “Puppy Mill” amendment.

I am an animal lover. I am opposed to what most people would consider a “puppy mill” where malnourished and ill-cared for animals are bred by thoughtless people. Nevertheless, I believe that law promoted by a slick Washington outfit and supported by millions pouring in from outside our state only served to make life difficult for legitimate businesses. Responsible dog breeders following perfectly humane practices were suddenly out of compliance. They had to invest in new equipment and modify practices to satisfy the new law or go out of business.

Next Tuesday, Missourians vote on a Right to Farm Amendment.  This amendment follows the pattern of most states. The language is simple. Farmers and ranchers can follow common practices of farming and ranching. If a developer builds a set of homes near a pig farm, the county cannot enact regulations to force that farm to change their practices. If the Humane Society of the United States whips up a frenzy over how young bulls are turned into steers, a county cannot create regulations that require ranchers to change what ranchers have been doing for hundreds of years.

Obviously Wayne Pacelle and the HSUS are opposed. Unlike local Humane Societies, only a fraction of the HSUS budget is for care and rescue of animals. Their main mission is to raise money and propose Obama-esque regulations “for our own good” as they did in 2010.

I find the whole HSUS operation very cynical in that they prey upon our sentiment. In 2010, good people thought they were voting to shut down awful operations, but all they did was make small businesses less profitable, hurting the fortunes of their fellow citizens. Wayne Pacelle is exceptionally well-paid, and the Right to Farm amendment will put a crimp in his shakedown operation.

Farming and ranching is not just a business - it is how we eat. Until 2010 Missouri did not seem to need a Right to Farm amendment, but the Wayne Pacelles of the world opposing it are essentially saying “if you like your food, you can keep it” while leaving out how new regulations they will champion in the future will raise prices and reduce availability. HSUS promoted regulations in California that will destroy egg production in the Golden State. In Florida, pregnant sows now have constitutional rights. We need our agriculture sector to stay profitable - it’s already a tough business.

I understand that some are concerned that this law will tilt the playing field in favor of corporate farms. I disagree. Generally corporations welcome regulations because they have the size and scale to meet new requirements, and they know that smaller competitors could be driven out of business. Corporations have the clout to make sure new regulations will not put them at a competitive disadvantage. This amendment will benefit family farms the most by making it very difficult for outside groups to introduce new burdens.

A few months from now we will be getting a new dog, and I welcome your input. if you a reading this and are a Missourian, I also hope you will vote “yes” on the Right to Farm amendment.

All the best.

Ed Martin

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Edward Robert Martin Jr. is an American politician and attorney from the state of Missouri. As the former Missouri GOP Chairman, his blog “Choice or Echo” can be found at www.WashingtonTimes.com. He is President of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and can be reached at ed@eagleforum.org.