Right-to-farm supporters rally in Ashland

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment say they fear outside groups might try to curtail animal agriculture in Missouri

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Proposition B was on the 2008 ballot.

Farmers at a Tuesday night rally for a farming rights ballot measure said they feared outside interests would curtail animal agriculture in Missouri.

Supporters of Constitutional Amendment 1 repeatedly brought up Proposition B, the 2010 ballot measure that limited the number of breeding dogs a dog breeder could use. They said it was an example of the types of regulations groups like the Humane Society of the United States could enact without constitutional protections. Boone County cattle farmer David Schlemeyer shared those concerns.

"I support Amendment 1 because it protects all of agriculture, not just the large operations, but all farmers against outside interests that really want to influence their agendas on what we try to do properly," he said.

Amendment 1 is one of five measures on the August 5 ballot. If approved by voters, it would add a provision to the Missouri Constitution that would declare the right to farm and ranch "forever guaranteed." Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, told the crowd it would not invalidate any current or future regulations. Instead, it would force the courts to subject any regulations to a much stricter level of scrutiny than they currently do.

Opponents of Amendment 1 have maintained the measure serves narrow corporate interests rather than the state's family farms. Columbia activist Monta Welch said she feared what the measure could mean for environmental regulations.

"There could be a challenge in almost any area, including to our clean air and clean water laws," she said.

Welch said if farmers feel threatened, they should try to enact new protections through state statute rather than amending the state constitution.