Monday, July 14, 2014

An Open Letter to Missouri Farmers

By Brenda Black

To all my friends on both sides of the farming fence: to the conventional and the all-natural; to the multi-generational and the first-time farmer, we are in this together. I love the passion for getting back to the basics as much as the commitment to banish world hunger. I applaud the ingenuity, the tenacity and integrity of all of Missouri's Ag community. It takes dedication and sacrifice to be capable and humane stewards of land and livestock. Every one of you has my utmost respect.

Right now, we are living in exciting times in agriculture, where the challenges compel innovators to find answers. Those resolutions come in a host of forms from high-rise, glassed-in, urban gardens to rotational grazing. Some employ timed breeding and new seed technologies. Ideas come from fifth generation farmers, university think tanks and long-established allied industries. Health enthusiasts, city folks and country caretakers alike contribute to the success of agriculture.

While we each constantly and tirelessly work to do our best, there is a growing shadow of intimidation that seeks to undermine each and every one of us. Animal rights and environmental extremists want to mandate your every move. We have an enemy that wishes to see Missouri families ruined. That enemy would love to whisper in your ear that the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment is big ag vs. small farmers; conventional vs. organic. But in reality, the battle is ALL of US vs. the bullying tactics that include intimidation, big bucks, and deceitful, sensational propaganda. Outside entities steamroll states on the fuel of millions of dollars and the wheels of outrageous lies. And they put good people right out of business and steal their rights using the ballot initiative process to impose their radical views!

If you eat; if you wear clothing; if you drive a car; if you take a vitamin or take insulin to stay alive; if you read a book or feed a pet; if you have a heart valve replacement or play football, your life is dependent on agriculture. How much greater the reason to guard that which is fundamental to our well-being.
The fact remains that small farms, and organic agriculturalists are not exempt from outside influence and are at just as much risk as the conventional farmers if we don't collectively work together to eliminate such underhanded strategies to sway regulations. The Missouri Farming Rights Amendment is not about insulating bad players. It is about protecting ALL of Missouri's farmers from anti-ag organizations.

My encouragement is that you do not let the lies and scare tactics of outside influencers undermine Missouri's number one economic contributor, nor one of the fastest growing hobbies -- agriculture. Neither should we allow their underhanded, over-funded, misguided bullying to take away any of our freedom to operate with best practices and with good conscience.

If we succumb to their rich scare tactics, every one of us loses. We lose the right to raise our families as we see fit. We lose the right to grow food the way science and experience prove is beneficial. We lose the right to try new things OR go back to old ways. We lose the right to plant hundreds of acres or dabble with dirt on a small plot in our back yard.

The outsiders who want to control the way you grow your food, feed your family and live your life, are bent on an old and deceptive strategy – divide and conquer. The Missouri Farming Rights Amendment is for everybody in this state that just wants the freedom to operate without undue and unfounded interference. It's about working together to protect our land, livestock and livelihood, as well as our families' healthy and happy futures.

If we don't stick together, we stand to lose the things we value most – our farms, our freedom and our rights as Missouri families. Think before you vote and say yes to Missouri Farming.

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