N.D. ballot measure affirms right to modern farming methods

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One ballot initiative that got overlooked in all the hubbub last Tuesday was a right-to-farm measure in North Dakota. 

The amendment, approved by the state’s voters, guarantees farmers the right to "modern” agriculture and bars laws limiting their right to “employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices."

The Associated Press reports that North Dakota is the first state to move to protect the right to farm. The amendment on the ballot, pushed by the North Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, was partly in response to attempts by the Humane Society of the United States and other animal-rights organizations to ban livestock practices, such as gestation-sow stalls, in other states.

"It's going to give us a big leg up on special-interest groups that come in from outside and want to tell us what to do and what not to do," Doyle Johannes, president of the state Farm Bureau told the AP.

Though the amendment was passed, state officials are unsure what the right means for farmers, how long it will take to define the right, and whether it can survive a potential court challenge. Read, “N.D. votes to protect a right to farm.”  

Other states have gone further to protect farmers from activist groups. Bills introduced in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New York and Missouri limit or prohibit the making of undercover videos. Dubbed “ag-gag” laws, the legislation was passed in Iowa earlier this year that was designed to keep people from accessing agricultural production facilities under false pretenses. Missouri also passed a diluted “ag-gag” law in May, which requires anyone with photos or videos of animal abuse or neglect to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours.  Click here to read more about Iowa’s or Missouri’s laws protecting agriculture.



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