Right to Farm…For Corporations

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Agenda 21/Sustainable Development, Agriculture, Economic Freedom, Legislative Issues

Missouri Amendment Could Hurt Family Farms

This is an excellent article by Richard Oswald. We need more free access unencumbered by the regulatory agencies to real food, for real people without corporate control. The Missouri “Rigt to Farm” proposed Constitutional amendment is NOT going to help the family farmer:

Farming is a tough business made harder by difficult weather and markets. Like most survivors of life-changing events, those of us left on the farm have had experiences that shape who we are today.

Looking back over my 60-plus years on a family farm, I see attitude, sympathetic lenders, luck, and most of all family relationships, as reasons why I still farm.

Family farmers have waited and hoped government would do something to mend the farm situation in their favor. But in government eyes, bigger has always been better — even when bigger meant more pollution, less competition and higher costs.

Realities of today are that though U.S. agriculture seems a national icon, corporations, some native to foreign countries, are busily replacing people like me.

The National Cattleman’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute opposed labeling meat and poultry according to its country of origin because their largest dues-paying members aren’t cattlemen at all, but multinational meat packers.

During recent farm bill negotiations, disaster assistance for U.S. beef producers hit hard by weather was held hostage in an effort to kill Country of Origin Labeling, known by the acronym COOL.

In order to have identity, family farmers must have products. Denying us the right to label our safe, wholesome, home-grown food denies not only who we are, but our very existence.

Family farms are not far from extinction as rural populations fall. Many of us who remain, even large farms, can claim family traditions. But the fact is that farm bill mischief and politics have hastened our demise.

Here in Missouri, where agriculture has always been mainstay, we are no strangers to big food. Traditional livestock growing regions in Missouri are two sides of the same coin as family farm cattle herds graze within feet of massive corporate poultry and hog confinements.

Most livestock confinements are controlled by the same meat packers who would deny my right to label my products. Among those corporate entities is Smithfield Foods.

Many of us in rural Missouri were dismayed when the General Assembly set about dismantling the rights of property owners by limiting recurring nuisance liability for Smithfield. As many of our Missouri state representatives and senators crafted legislation protecting it from its own pollution troubles, Smithfield was in buyout talks with a company based in China.

Liability from nuisance lawsuits like those faced by financially challenged Smithfield subsidiary Premium Standard Farms could have been a sticking point for Chinese buyers. Thanks to politics, it’s not an issue any more just as limits placed on foreign ownership of Missouri land have been redrawn to fit the buyout by China’s Shuanghui International.

In still another instance of pandering to corporate food control, the Missouri General Assembly has placed Constitutional Amendment 1 on the November ballot. Supposedly designed to assure the right to farm for Missouri citizens, its vague wording is bound to favor corporations, even Chinese corporations, over Missouri family farms. That’s because Supreme Court rulings that a corporation is a person play into the hands of Amendment 1 supporters of corporate food control.

Amendment 1 in Missouri could grant even the worst corporations the right to do whatever they want when they claim to be “farmer” or “rancher.”

Some say we can never return to the days when family farms produced the bulk of what we eat. That will be true so long as Missourians continue to elect those who favor the politics of big food. Missouri voters can reverse that trend. It’s time they did.

Richard R. Oswald of Langdon, Mo., is president of the Missouri Farmers Union.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s