BEEF Daily

North Dakota Ranchers Fight For Their Futures


Here’s an explanation of two North Dakota ballot measures, both which will impact the way ranchers do business in the future.

On Nov. 6, U.S. voters will choose our nation’s leaders and hope those individuals will understand that agriculture is the backbone of the nation’s economy and that further regulations against farmers and ranchers will only weaken that backbone. On a state and local level, however, there are also battles to fight to protect the future of agriculture.

In North Dakota, there are two ballot measures related to animal care and food production that you should know about. Whether or not you live in North Dakota, similar versions of these two measures may be coming to your home state, so to better protect your interests in the future, it's important to understand the precedent being set now.

Measure 5 (North Dakota Prevention of Animal Cruelty Initiative 2012) would make it a class C felony for an individual to maliciously harm a dog, cat or horse. At first glance, most would agree that abusing animals should be punishable by law; however, this initiative isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

Measure 5 is funded by an out-of-state activist group, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), an organization known for its anti-agriculture, anti-hunting agenda. The measure would only apply to rare acts of heinous abuse, which rarely occur in the state, but many in North Dakota are concerned that passing this measure would set a precedent for future actions that would regulate ranchers out of business and drive up the cost of food.

According to the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA), “The measure only applies to dogs, cats and horses and leaves out all other species of animals. It will not improve animal treatment in North Dakota; in fact, without clear definitions, those doing right by animals could even be at risk of being charged with a felony. Your "no" vote does not mean you are an advocate of animal cruelty. Your no vote means you believe in a better solution for ALL animals. Visit to read about the alternative solution -- legislation that gives clear definitions and solutions for cruelty for all animals.”

On the NDSA website, there are several links to editorials and supporting information against Measure 5, and there is also information on the North Dakota Animal Stewards, a growing coalition representing farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, pet owners, animal shelter workers and sportsmen. Check it out here.

Measure 3 (North Dakota Farming and Ranching Amendment 2012), sponsored by the North Dakota Farm Bureau, calls for a constitutional amendment that would block any law "which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.

According to North Dakota Feeding Families, “Protect food choices for you and me, vote YES on Measure 3. To keep our food choices abundant, safe and secure, we need to do more to safeguard the practices our farmers and ranchers use to grow our food. That’s why we are encouraging North Dakota voters to vote YES on Measure 3, an amendment to North Dakota’s Constitution safeguarding modern farming and ranching practices. Measure 3 will be on the November 2012 ballot, and will read as follows: ‘The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.’”

KFYR-TV reports, “If the measure is passed, a new section would be added to Article 11 of North Dakota Constitution to prohibit any law that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to use agricultural technology, modern livestock, and ranching practices.”

Understand the key issues facing your state; be an informed citizen and vote. Your voice matters!

Where do you stand on these two measures? What issues are being voted on in your state? Let us know the challenges you face. Share your election updates in the comments section below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 9

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 17, 2012

Personally I'm going to be voting no on Measure 3 and yes on Measure 5. Here's the skinny, Farmers, especially small farmers who have a hand in day to day farming practices are rarely culprits of egregious harm to animals. That is certainly not the case of big agri-businesses, which are basically corporate farms - these types of farms employ a host of employees who may have the job simply because its a job. Like walking into a Menards, Lowes, or Home Depot wherein the sales clerk working in the plumbing, or electrical, or lumber, or gardening departments may not have a clue about that department beyond the basics. They often don't have the wherewithal to even care. That is usually the case in big agri-businesses, where moving animals about, or extracting a by product from the animal is simply a task, and it is precisely these types of situations where the owner/farmer/rancher is removed entirely from day to day operations, simply because they are too big for their britches. These measures are not an onslaught by anyone, certainly the HSUS is not an 'activist' group for Gods sake. Profit, if you are a true Christian is secondary to taking care of the blessings God has given us - in this case the form of animals who provide us nutrition. As a consumer, I depend on the quality of that nutrition, but I will not accept harm done to the animals for the sake of profit or greater production. Regulations, like this proposal, only increases business growth. When regulations are in place, whether in the form of legislation, policy, or otherwise will spur the 'certification' from some other business that compliance is met. That certification is then further inspected by a Government agency - which of course is comprised of fellow Americans. So, regulation like this is good. To think otherwise, I would have to conclude is Republican, or as I like to call it obstructionist, REPUGnant thinking.

on Oct 18, 2012

Anonymous: You are basing your decision on emotion rather than fact. I also suspect you are an animal rights activist and not a regular reader of this blog.
The vast vast majority of farm and ranch operations in the entire US are family owned and have direct owner managment and participation. I suspect virtually all their employees would vehomently disagree with you about your implication of them not caring about animals in their care. Producers PROFITABILITY depends on providing humane animal treatment and care.
You should be aware that many of the high profile abuse cases in recent years at animal processing facilities were video taped by animal rights avivist zealots who infiltrated the plants, but did not report the abuses they filmed until it was politically expediant to do so.
Shame on HSUS for condoning this and shame on them for misleading people. Their true agenda is elimination of all animal agriculture, end of argument.

Laura Beth Aaron (not verified)
on Oct 20, 2012

Yes, my goal is to treat every diet related disease with real medicine from plant foods. Hippocrates said, "Let Food Be Thy Medicine," and he did not mean animal fat, animal protein, and the only means of taking in added cholesterol, saturated FAT( even so called lean flesh)from animals, all animals.

Yes, our tireless goal is to save human beings from a manipulated, politically corrupt, unsustainable, bloody food system that we SEE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, has resulted in skyrocketing rates of diet related disease. Doctors who remove meat and dairy ARE reversing diseases and those suffering from them are decreasing and eliminating medications. We in this movement know that the foundation of western economics, livestock, how the , "west was won," is also how it is being lost as children are the living symptom of eating nutrient vacant, fiberless, chemically tainted,, hormone ridden, live virus treated, ammonia sprayed, genetically modified flesh and dairy.
On a planet with 30% land, 70% water, raising 70% of crops for farmed animals while human beings go hungry, is perverse and even more so when those involved spend every Sunday in church.
Really! Feed cows instead of children? Poison water! Cut down every tree in the rain forest for grazing. Slaughter every wild animal that wants to eat their true carnivorous diet ? Please. EVOLVE and raise something better for the greater good.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 18, 2012

Your rambling comment made very little sense. HSUS is definately an "activist group". They do very little to help animals and spend most of the contributions they receive on developing legislation and initiatives in "targeted states". They sent a young woman to ND to become a resident and spearhead the measure 5 campaign. (not verified)
on Oct 17, 2012

Why not be responsible for the abject cruelty that farm animals endure? Because of $$$$$$$. We need to pass all laws to protect animals against greed and horror that factory farming subjects them to -- and we need to advance to a vegetarian diet if we are to safe this planet, according to the UN and world scientists. Cruelty and money, perfect together. Stop the nonsense, and just say what you mean.

beefhappy (not verified)
on Oct 18, 2012

Certainly people could vote with their pocketbook by only buying products from the farms of their choice instead of passing legislation that does refer to any specific practices. So many rescue operations, small farms, individuals and even large farms keep thin and/or suffering animals while they attempt to bring them back to health that a few are bound to be entangled in careless legislation like measure 5. If you make a mistake tying a rescue dog or horse in a trailer and it injures itself in transport- that could be a felony. HSUS promotes the end of keeping animals as pets and as food so legislation it proposes is written vaguely in order to allow prosecutions that promote the agendas it promotes.

HorseGirl (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2012

The mere fact that Measure 5 is driven and funded by HSUS discredits this ballot initiative right off the bat! HSUS specializes in deceptive ballot initiatives. Something important for North Dakotans to consider: Animal cruelty is already a misdemeanor in ND. Do you really believe that increased penalties will be a deterrent? i think not.

Brent (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

This headline is irresponsible and misleading. ND ranchers are not in peril from measure 5. I'm not in favor of it, but the language within only applies to dogs, cats, and horses and excludes farming/ranching activity. What I want to know is what farmers and ranchers are afraid of that prompted the incredibly vague Measure 3. Instead of a simple paragraph that can be interpreted any way agriculture wants it to be, why not get the legislature involved and craft a bill that actually deals with the concerns the agriculture community has and outlines how it would be applied?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 31, 2014

The Humane Society states on their website that, we help animals by advocating (activist) for better laws to protect animals. By animals this group means any and all animals. Once they set in motion the case for dogs, cats, and horses, rest assured the livestock will be next. The part where it will become a class C felony is simply ridiculous. Basically misdemeanors usually end up in fines and possible jail time, however, a felony is a totally different level where you face prison time, not to mention probation etc.. etc.. So if there are already laws in place for animal cruelty then leave it at that. No need to increase punishment just to (as another commenter said) set a new precedence. I also agree with another commenter who states how you have to keep a horse tied to a post or whip a cow to make it move. Will that be breaking the law because if it is then everyone who operates a farm or ranch will all be found guilty according to the humane society. So I would vote NO on 5. However, I would vote YES on 3. I am all for farmers and ranchers to be able to continue using modern agricultural technology, modern livestock, and ranching practices. Lets face it, the global climate is starting to effect the farms and ranches. That being said, there has to be new technology involved to face these issues head on.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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