North Dakota voters have approved a state constitutional amendment protecting farmer and rancher rights.
Now that the dust has settled on the election, I have a little more time to evaluate the wins and losses of this political season. One of the issues I closely watched was a measure that was placed on the ballot in my neighboring state of North Dakota. Measure 3 was the first ever state constitutional amendment that protects the right of farmers and ranchers.
The amendment protects "modern livestock production and ranching practices," and the yes vote has gained media attention from the San Francisco Chronicle to the Washington Post (WP).
Although critics say the measure is too vague, this broad amendment will help protect farmers and ranchers from out-of-state activist groups like the Humane Society of the U.S.
According to WP, “Voters in heavily agriculture-dependent North Dakota became the first to enshrine the right to farm in their state constitution, a move that some say could have far-reaching effects on genetic modification, land use and the way animals are raised.
“The amendment passed with two-thirds of the vote on Nov. 6, the same day voters in California rejected a measure calling for labeling on food products containing genetically modified ingredients. Farm groups also saw that proposal as an attack on agriculture because some of the nation’s most important crops, such as corn, are mainly grown with genetically engineered seeds.
“Opponents spent $46 million on advertising to defeat the California ballot initiative. In contrast, the North Dakota Farm Bureau spent only about $150,000 to promote its amendment."
Sure, this measure may be too broad and might have to be challenged if it overrides other state and local laws for farming and ranching, but it’s a step in the right direction for protecting and preserving agriculture in the state from animal and environmental activist groups. Will it be enough to counteract future legislation that might be presented by these groups? I’m not so sure, but I’m pleased to see that North Dakota is being proactive and taking control of the conversation about food production in their state.
What do you think of the measure? Is it a win for agriculture? If so, how long will it last?