One for all? Amendment One continues to cultivate debate on Missouri agriculture

The road leading to the Aug. 5 primary election was marked by dissent and discussion, debate and deliberation. The roads leading to the polling places — from the main streets of Milan and Memphis to the rural routes of Rogersville — were also lined with images of public opinion. In farm fields and front yards across the state, citizens planted signs in support of Amendment One — support that ultimately passed the initiative by a slender margin of one-quarter of a percentage point.

Supporting groups, including Missouri Farmers Care and Missouri Farm Bureau, viewed the election results as a decisive victory for Amendment One. However, citizens opposed to the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment have been quick to caution supporters not to count their chickens before they’ve hatched, or their votes before they’re recounted.

Due to the narrow passage of the amendment, a recount of the vote was initiated. Missouri state law sanctions an official recount when the margin of victory is less than one-half of one percent. Wes Shoemyer, president of Missouri’s Food for America, a coalition of activists committed to a “sustainable, humane and safe food supply” and the defeat of Amendment One petitioned for the recount process. Other groups seeking verification of the election results included the Missouri Farmers Union and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.

“We certainly want to make sure that there is confidence in this election and in this process and that every vote gets counted,” Shoemyer said.

Speaking on behalf of Missouri’s Food for America, Shoemyer maintains that “family farmers already had the right to farm.” Furthermore, he objects to the language of the amendment, which he claims is vague and does not distinguish between foreign entities and Missouri citizens.

“In the official language that’s going into our constitution, that very crucial, critical word—citizens—is absent,” Shoemyer said.

Despite the claims constituting Shoemyer’s and other critics’ arguments on the constitutional amendment, one Missouri citizen and CAFNR student has growing confidence in his right to farm. Combining his interests for production agriculture and public affairs, Dan Haynes, a sophomore agriculture major and fifth-generation farmer from Eldon, Missouri, elected to pursue a policy internship with Missouri Farmers Care, cultivating awareness and support for Amendment One throughout this summer’s campaign.

Haynes, who began his own farming operation in high school through FFA, believes Amendment One showcases a more productive future for the Show-Me State’s farm producers.

“It gives me peace of mind,” Haynes said.

Referencing the dangers of misinformed voting and campaign dollars spent by out-of-state anti-agriculture groups, Haynes suggests that Amendment One will “protect and shelter Missouri’s farmers and ranchers” from threatening legislation.

“I don’t have to worry every time an election comes around whether or not my kids or my grandchildren will be able to do what I do,” Haynes said.

Despite his optimistic outlook, Haynes understands the importance of continued agricultural promotion and education in the state.

“I think in no way the passage of Amendment One is a stopping point,” Haynes added. “I don’t think there’s ever a situation where you can rest on your laurels. There was a great amount of confusion stirred up during the Amendment One campaign, and I think as agriculturists and educators, we have a huge task ahead of us to help amend that, to bring the producer and consumer back together.”

The certification, completed on Sept. 15, confirmed the fair passage of Amendment One by a margin of 2,375 votes — less than the pre-recount figure of 2,490. Although voters may not be “all for One,” the confirmation of the amendment will create “One for all” — influencing the freedom of Missouri farmers to care for their operations and produce food for America.

Nora Faris

About the Author Nora Faris

From the cornfields to Capitol Hill, from the white farmhouses of mid-Missouri to the White House, I am an ardent advocate for American agriculture. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once remarked, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” As an agricultural communicator and CAFNR Corner Post staff writer, I look forward to using my pencil (or computer, smartphone, camera and other tools of the journalistic trade) to reveal the challenges and opportunities of the agriculture industry in meaningful ways and bring the cornfield closer to the average consumer.