Missouri voters are asked to decide five Constitutional Amendments when they go to the polls on Aug. 5.
Amendment No. 1, known as the ‘Right to Farm’ bill, was spearheaded in the legislature by state Rep. Bill Reiboldt, 160th district, Neosho. Reiboldt explained what the measure would, and would not do, while speaking to a large crowd assembled in Neosho’s Big Spring Park last Thursday for the Newton County Republican Central Committee annual Free Watermelon Feed.
“Amendment No. 1 is very important because like our religious liberties, like our gun rights, could we be threatened in some way in the very basic right of farming?” asked Reiboldt, who then answered his own question. “I think yes. We have out of state groups – the Humane Society of the United States, we have PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), we have the Sierra Club and others – who are bent and determined to disrupt Missouri’s No. 1 industry and that is agriculture.”
The ballot language for Amendment No. 1 reads: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?
“The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding.”
Reiboldt expressed joy that ample rain and cooler temperatures are leading to a very good crop year in Missouri, and stated that could help the state budget going into the next year.
“Because the way agriculture goes, when we have good years, that is the way our state is going to go. They just work hand in hand,” he said.
Reiboldt announced that it is time to draw a line in the sand and send a signal that agriculture will be protected in Missouri.
He warned, “You outside of state groups, you’re not going to come in and you’re not going to disrupt what we have worked a lifetime for, and with that we have different groups that are trying to trash this amendment, saying that it’s all about corporate farming.”
Reiboldt disagreed, and indicated that the amendment covers everyone who farms in the state.
“It’s a constitutional guarantee,” he said, “and with a constitutional right comes responsibility and comes regulation. The scope of Amendment 1 is similar to the right to bear arms. When we have as citizens the right to bear arms, that doesn’t give us the right to go into a crowd and just start shooting people. And so it is with agriculture and what we do in agriculture.”
Reiboldt said opponents argue against corporate farming, but corporate farming is mainly small farmers who have formed a corporation.
“A C Corp, Sub Chapter S Corp, my family farming operation has been incorporated since (19)78, and it’s necessary for tax purposes, for estate planning, and to be able to pass it along to generations to come,” he said.
In order to carry on in these changing times, Reiboldt asserted that farms have to be larger so farmers can farm more. He said his father made a living milking 35 cows, and he milked 150 cows on his dairy to keep up with the times.
“So it’s not about corporate farms,” he said.
Reiboldt said other misinformation spread by opponents is that the measure will allow Missouri farmland to be sold off to foreign interests.
He argued, “On the foreign ownership of farmland, we overrode the governor on Senate Bill 9 last year, putting in place one of the best bills limiting the purchase of foreign farmland.”
Also differing from what others are saying in regards to the bill, Reiboldt said local control will not be affected.
“It will stand status quo,” he said. “We will work side-by-side with the county ordinances and the county health boards.”
All five of the amendments on the August ballot were explained by lawmakers during last week’s watermelon feed. This is the third in a series to explain those to readers, and the explanations for amendments 8 and 9 will appear in the coming days in the Neosho Daily News.