BEEF Daily

North Dakota Votes To Protect Right To Farm


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?

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 14, 2012

This is likely only one battle in a war that isn't over.

William Ruckelshaus, the founding EPA administrator appointed by Richard Nixon, states that battles over contentious public issues are fought in three venues - legislative, public media, and the courts - and the loser of a battle in one venue simply begins another in another venue.

He recommends reading The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki and, based on his experience, states that only a well run collaborative decision making process will eventually take the heat out of such wars.

Dakota Sunshine (not verified)
on Nov 14, 2012

My family owns farm land in ND and I live on a farm in SD. I have been trying to tell the farmers in both states about Agenda 21, sustainable development, signed in by Bill Clinton in 1993. They will not discuss it, will not investigate because of their determined desire to vote democrat. I am glad to see by this article, that it is possible that someone is going to put light on this subject and the possibility that farming and ranching will be crushed under the right to own property and Agenda 21 and sustainable development. I hope that you will shed some light on this subject before it is too late. It does not matter what an individual state does if the feds are against it, I don't see how you fight it. This Administration is opposed to it.

Dakota Sunshine (not verified)
on Nov 14, 2012

I am glad to see that someone is looking into land ownership. This is an issue that many farmers and ranchers do not want to deal with or recognize that it exists. They feel that their right to farm/ranch cannot be taken away. Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development will do this and I feel very assured that this Administration will implement this. Even the movie 2016 brought forth Obama's agenda against private land ownership but all of my friends in agriculture voted for Obama. They don't care that this country is moving away from agriculture/ranching. Say it can't happen...I think if the nation stays asleep it can happen. People need to be reminded that Bill Clinton signed in Agenda 21 sustainable Development in 1993. The one world government is what this is being implemented under.

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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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