Missouri Amendment 1- Vote NO!

From Michael Evans: http://www.americasvoicenow.org

 

And…. Why YOU Should Vote NO on Missouri’s Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 – “Right To Farm”

 

On Monday, a meeting was held in a townhall style at the West Plains Civic Center so that folks could better understand the proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 aka “Right To Farm” Bill.  I attended this meeting and so I thought I would provide those who were unable to make it with a report on what transpired.  Feel free to forward to your “Circle of Influence” whether you agree with my observations or not.

 

First, let me state unequivocally that I support the unlimited protection of family farms, farmers and family ranchers.  But I firmly believe this bill will do no such thing.

 

The meeting was sponsored by supporters of the bill.  The people sitting at the ‘speaker’ table were Shawn Rhodes and a legislative employee from the Missouri Legislature.  They opened the meeting with a reading of the proposed constitutional amendment found here:

 

”That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vial sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.”

 

I asked the meeting why we didn’t word the amendment thus…

 

”That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vial sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of FAMILY farmers and FAMILY ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, AND SHALL NOT BE INFRINGEDsubject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.” 

 

This means infringed by anyone, for any reason, whether gov’t, political action committee, animal rights groups, or Missouri’s DNR (Department of Natural Resources).  I was told that language was ‘unacceptable’ to the legislature who couldn’t get it passed because of politics.  Translation? YOUR interests are not THEIR interests. What’s troubling is that this bill is primarily sponsored by Republicans.  (For the record, I and a large group of others spent a lot of time unsuccessfully in conference calls over the past 2 years trying to get them to use the right language because we smelled a rat going in.)

 

The primary argument from the speakers table was that this amendment was to thwart future efforts by HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) to stop the trend of injecting legislative limits on farmers similar to the Prop B ‘puppy mill’ legislation that they got approved in 2010 by appealing to the emotional side of non-farmers and non-ranchers. I would argue that livestock is already protected under state law and nobody, including the deluded HSUS can argue that your goat, cow or pig is a ‘family pet’.

 

I believe the HSUS is intent on damaging farming in Missouri. I also abhor the organization not only because they eat up the vast majority of donations in ‘administrative costs’ including fundraising, but they actively seek to undermine states’ rights, human rights and abuse laws giving corporations rights, and lastly, but most importantly, because they put animals before humans. Charity Navigator warns with their “Donor Advisory” rating, and charity watchdog Humanewatch.org gives them a D grade while others rank them equally dishonest and scurrilous.

 

However, the table argued that HSUS has raised and spent $375,000 to fight against this bill so therefore it was a good bill to vote for.  It did come out of the meeting, by attendees and not supporters) that the side supporting it (Republicans included), have spent over $1,000,000 in support of the bill.  When asked where that money came from, we were told PACs or Political Action Committees which naturally are shielded from having to reveal their donors were responsible. I might have been born at night… but it wasn’t last night!  As if they don’t know or weren’t involved in getting that financial support.

 

Since both sides are funding the passage or non-passage of this bill so heavily, and we all know money in politics points the finger of guilt to the parties that benefit the most, I would posit that both sides are using the ‘boogeyman’ fear factor of the other side to drive their members and/or constituents to vote for an Amendment which is not in the best interests of the actual family farmers and ranchers of Missouri.

 

To be sure, and I said this publicly in the meeting, everyone in the room was there for the right purpose, to protect Missouri’s agricultural heritage and industry and family farmers and ranchers, not corporations, CAFO’s and foreign gov’ts.  However, I believe that the political parties have hijacked this legislation to pass a nefarious and detrimental Constitutional Amendment that cannot later be altered or modified and will be the subject of staggering legal challenges that will leave this amendment in the hands of those who redefine words for a living; namely judges and lawyers, who definitively don’t have the best interests of the farmers and ranchers in question as their motivation. Further the Farmers/Ranchers will have to bear the legal financial burdens of fighting those battles and that’s untenable for the family farm or ranch which is barely subsisting hand to mouth. Fighting legal battles with gov’t agencies, NGO (non-governmental organizations such as HSUS), and being beaten by financial attrition, not by lack of merit, will hurt all of us in the state.

 

There was a constant refrain that, “this is the best we can get”, and “It’s a good start” towards protecting Missouri family farmers and ranchers.  I submit that there are two problems with this thinking.

 

  • First, if the best we can get from a majority legislature is a bill designed to protect Monsanto and leave future ‘interpretation’ to bureaucrats, judges and lawyers who will cost farmers/ranchers the ‘farm’ to fight for their God given rights in the first place, that shows us that neither party truly represents the interests of their ‘alleged’ constituents, and hasn’t for a very long time.
    • Passing such an amendment allows legislators to define under Missouri’s Constitution in Article VI what your rights actually are.  That section of the Constitution is hundreds of pages long and addresses everything under the sun.  In order to ‘loophole’ the new amendment for the benefit of some political supporter or crony (Can YOU say Monsanto?), the legislature can simply modify or redefine whatever they need to in Article VI to give them the dubious “Duly Authorized Power” to hijack your right to make a living while granting themselves even greater powers.
    • Ask yourself if the purpose of a Constitution is to limit gov’t or YOU?  How does giving you rights, subject to their “Duly Authorized Power” act to “bind the gov’t down with the chains of a Constitution” as per Thomas Jefferson?

 

  • Second, this is not “a good start” because you don’t modify the constitution with a law in motion. If we find later that it has poison in it, (and you can bet this was worded VERY carefully by the “elit-i-legalists” in the legislature) it cannot be simply modified.  It would require another Constitutional Amendment vote just to amend the bad amendment.
    • A Constitutional Amendment should be the final limitation of gov’t power, not a ‘starting point’ full of loopholes large enough to push Kansas City through sideways!

 

Finally, the arguments given by those in ‘official’ support was laden with the threats of the dark powers and money of the HSUS and their freedom destroying activities.  Let me be abundantly clear here… I absolutely despise anyone who sells me on waiving my rights based upon fear.  THAT IS terrorism defined, i.e. manipulation of the individuals through fear, intimidation, threat or coercion for a political end.  It makes no difference if it’s done by a guy in a suit or a uniform.

 

Frankly, I fear the Missouri DNR and the state legislature far more than an animal rights activist group who may, or may not, attempt to pass legislation or policy with the aid of the real danger here… our own legislature and the DNR.

 

When I asked why we are compromising ourselves by agreeing to a bad amendment simply because the legislature doesn’t have the brass to really honor who they should represent, (not the corporations or political bribers, …er donors), I was told again that “This is the best we could get” and “This is a good start”.  The simple truth is that our legislature has failed us over and over again. They seek to pass legislation that protects and benefits their donors and frankly that is nothing more than a polite way of saying Bribery.  I’m tired of endless promises of “more hard work to do” and “we’ll build on this” kind of talk. You don’t ‘build’ on a constitutional amendment.  That is where the final product goes, not the half-baked, loophole laden dream of a greedy self-serving political machine.

 

Again, suggested language would have done what the supporters claim this piece of misguided misdirection should actually do…..  Note the differences in RED.

 

”That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vial sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of FAMILY farmers and FAMILY ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, AND SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.”  This change would have made it bulletproof to voters, and eliminated most of the expensive legal wrangling that we will see for years going forward.

 

We shouldn’t be making constitutional amendments just because our legislature wants to appease their cronies and corporate sponsors.  I was told the language proposed was right but, was ‘unacceptable’ to the legislature and couldn’t get passed.  So, ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Did the legislature really had YOUR best interest at heart when they wrote it?
  • Should we pass a permanent modification to the Constitution because the legislature (which is supposed to have a ‘conservative’ majority) was more interested in giving you a false choice using fear as a coercion tactic?
  • If the purpose of a constitution is to ‘bind men down from mischief by the chains of a constitution’ (Thomas Jefferson), why is it that YOU are bound by this constitutional amendment?
  • Should we simply rise up, vote NO and then demand that they right the correct language and actually represent us next year in protecting Missouri Family Farmers and Family Ranchers?

 

In case you haven’t gathered already…. For the record, I’m voting NO.  This bill should be better known as the “Missouri Monsanto Protection Act”.

 

 

Michael Evans
Patriot & OathKeeper

 

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debra Prince
    Jul 31, 2014 @ 19:00:54

    This is what I have been telling people, especially about the “duly authorized powers” part. I have been asked if there is a list somewhere of the backers of this bill. Not just people like Rhodes (who I did not vote for) but the companies putting money and support into it like Monsanto, MFA, Farm Bureau, any others? Is there and where can I find it? I have looked but no luck so far. Thanks, maybe we can educate enough people by Tuesday to kill this bill.

    Debbie

    Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:46:19 +0000 To: princedebra@hotmail.com

    Reply

  2. Joe Lawson
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 00:20:21

    Just look at the sponsors of the orginal bill to start, Monsanto was their #1 contributor. The word “security” as in food security is far more worrisome to me, those words are actual agenda by the United Nation, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Rockefeller foundation, just google it. It’s basically pushing for GMO crops worldwide, if you control patented crops you control the people.

    Reply

  3. pttvoters
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 14:03:51

    Reblogged this on Power To The Voters and commented:
    Responsible producers raise healthy livestock and poultry w/o unnecessary drugs. “Dead Boxes” CAFO’s use cannibal feeding approach – puts dead diseased carcasses in animal feed. Growth hormones producing livestock and poultry bigger faster but killing people – #moleg Stop IT! Vote No on Al

    Reply

  4. pttvoters
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 14:07:49

    Right to farm Constitutional Amendment By Howard Wright

    The not so secret hidden agenda

    Power of local government limited  

    Proponents of the Amendment argue that  it is    “… subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.” (emphasis added)    So what does “if any”  mean?  One tip is that the drafter’s were not willing to even concede in the Amendment that any powers are granted by article VI by adding the phrase “if any”  in order to avoid and interpretation of  the amendment that all words must be given meaning. The  “if any” phrase is intended to give the drafter’s of the Amendment an argument  that article VI  confers no power otherwise why is this language included in the Amendment?  The exception for duly authorized powers in  article VI  of the Missouri Constitution are basically meaningless because  the state can always limit the power of local government. 

    In addition,  making the amendment subject to  article VI, which   pertains to cities, counties and special districts is misleading because  by law the General Assembly can  limit the power  of local government.  In addition,  every well-versed municipal lawyer knows that statutory cities and counties are generally not conferred any rights by article VI.  Home rule cities and counties have the right to adopt laws provided they are not inconsistent with the Missouri Constitution or state law. Local  laws that conflict with state law are invalid.  Claims by the proponents of the Amendment  that local government will continue to have the power to regulate and things won’t change are simply empty promises that cannot be kept.

    Power of the General Assembly may be limited  

    The language   “subject to duly authorized powers” in article VI of the Missouri Constitution,  is important because it implies  that other provisions of the Missouri Constitution such as article III, section 1,  (power  of the General Assembly to  legislate) would be  subservient to the  constitutional right of farming and ranching.

    As a consequence laws  adopted  by the General Assembly, which prohibit or limit farming or ranching  by the General Assembly could be invalidated because  the Bill of Rights  trumps state law and nearly every other constitutional provision that is not in the Bill of Rights.  

    The Amendment may abolish the right to bring a common-law nuisance action for pollution of  property when it is caused by forming or ranching operations.  

    The proposed  Amendment did not occur in a vacuum. A jury verdict awarding $11 million in compensatory damages to 15 adjoining property owners against a hog farm run as a Concentrated Animal Farm Operation (CAFO) set the General Assembly on fire with an immediate reaction to protect farmers from common-law nuisance actions resulting in the passage of HB 209, which was vetoed by Governor Nixon. HB 209, was a complete overreach by the General Assembly. This matter continued to simmer leading the General Assembly in 2014 to adopt a  HJR submitting to the voters the Amendment to the Bill of Rights in the Missouri Constitution establishing farming and ranching as a fundamental constitutional right. 

    Several state courts have held that state statutes, which limit the right to bring a common law nuisance action against a farming operation that is creating a common law nuisance is an unconstitutional taking. When the Iowa Supreme Court declared state legislation, which prohibited common-law nuisance actions as a taking in a farm state like Iowa farm groups sit up and take notice.

    Certainly, the proponents of the Amendment would argue that the constitutional Amendment if approved bars common-law nuisance actions. In addition, you can expect that the proponents will argue that the Amendment validates section 537.295 RSMO., which allows an expansion of  a farm  cattle operation once it has been in operation for at least one year is  no longer a taking of private property without compensation.
      
    History is important in understanding the purpose of the Amendment. It is no secret that the proponents have proposed the Amendment because of the above history and the concern that a court might invalidate any effort by the General  Assembly to adopt laws which limit the right to bring a common law nuisance action.  

    The  public policy question    

    No one argues with the proposition that farming and ranching is extremely important. The public policy question does not center on that question. The critical question is whether or not inclusion in the Constitution of the State of Missouri as part of the Bill of Rights is appropriate and whether or not its inclusion will limit the ability of to adjust to future threats from farming and ranching operations that may have a very severe impact on the environment.

    Our elected representatives should be able to deal with changes to the environment without being hamstrung by constitutional amendment that can only be changed by the voters. Be assured, once this Amendment is adopted it will be in the Missouri Constitution forever.  State government needs the flexibility to act when the environment is threatened.

    ABOUT HOWARD WRIGHT

    My practice is primarily focused on local government law.  Throughout my career I have been dedicated to finding solutions to complicated community problems.  My work in finding solutions to these community problems  has been recognized by the Missouri Municipal League, awarding me their Distinguished Service Award and by the Missouri Municipal Attorneys Association making me the first recipient of the Lou Czech Award for outstanding service as a Municipal Attorney.

    I served on the MML Board of Directors for a number of years and as President and Vice- President of the Missouri Municipal Attorney’s Association.  I am active in the International Municipal Attorney’s Association (IMLA),  currently serving as the MML representative to IMLA. I have also served three terms as Chair and Vice-Chair of the IMLA Committee on Personnel and Labor Relations and two terms as Chair of IMLA’s Economic Development, Taxation, and Finance Section.

    http://momunicipallaw.com/about-this-blog/about-howard-wright/

    Reply

  5. pttvoters
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 14:09:21

    Some questions that need to be answered.

    By Robert Oswald – president of the Missouri Farmers Union

    Who is a Missouri citizen?

    Courts will probably say a citizen is any person residing in the state of Missouri. Since the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted to protect both cold-blooded corporations or flesh-and-blood people, Amendment One does nothing to change the US Supreme Court perception that a corporation is a person.

    Who is a farmer or rancher?

    Clearly, a farmer or rancher is anyone who engages in those practices of farming or ranching.
    Tyson, Cargill, and Chinese owned Smithfield raise hogs and chickens, and engage in agricultural production. They are farmers.

    JBS of Brazil, Cargill and Tyson raise cattle. They are ranchers.
    Amendment One does not differentiate between human beings and legal entity corporations.

    What is the meaning of infringed?

    Suppose a large corporation has a business plan requiring huge amounts of water and electric power. Their water requirements may mean that you will not have enough water for your own needs. And power lines supplying electricity to the corporation will have to cross your property, decreasing its value.

    As a private citizen our state constitution would prevent you from infringing upon the rights of the corporation to do what it wants by denying access. Amendment One could even become back door eminent domain, giving corporations the power to take property they need in order to fulfill their right to be farmers or ranchers.

    Amendment One has been portrayed as something that will protect independent family farmers and our strong agricultural heritage in Missouri. But, in fact, there is nothing in the single sentence question of Amendment One that mentions or even implies any support for family farming. There are no definitions, no instructions, no indications of intent to guide judges when they interpret Amendment One as they most surely will. Amendment One leaves our state constitution and our individual rights wide open to legal challenges by attorneys representing wealthy corporations.

    Amendment One won’t help beginning farmers obtain operating loans or gain access to land. It won’t make livestock markets more fair or diversify grain markets. It does nothing to stem unfair foreign competition and the ongoing decline of family farm numbers in our state.

    In recent sessions the Missouri General Assembly has increased the amount of Missouri farmland foreign corporations can own. They have made it harder for people — real Missouri citizens — to practice local control, protect themselves from corporate pollution and gain better access to clean water and air. Amendment One would do nothing to rectify those infringements.

    In reality, Amendment One would guarantee a few large companies the right to dominate ever more of Missouri’s most productive rural landscape, exercising even more control over property rights and the way we grow our food.
    http://www.missourifarmertoday.com/news/opinion/article_b1335ef6-0134-11e4-be2f-0019bb2963f4.html

    Reply

  6. Small Virtual Office Rental San Francisco
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 00:38:11

    Yes! Finally something about cheap serviced offices.

    Reply

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