A proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing Missourians have a right to farm has hit some rocky ground in the Senate where critics say it poses dangers within promises of security.

House and Senate negotiators want to put an issue to the voters saying,  “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.”   Sounds simple, but Senate Sponsor Mike Parson of Bolivar tells colleagues it’s a question mark.  “I think you could throw all the answers in a hat and nobody knows,” he says.

But some senators know they don’t like the removal of language giving local governments power to regulate agricultural operations on health and environmental issues.  Senator Jolie Justus, who represents rural counties in mid-Missouri  has led opposition to the amendment without that wording, saying, “I had hoped that we were there and it looks like we’re not.”

Several counties have passed ordinances limiting big pig farms, for example.  She says the proposed amendment could keep counties from protecting local citizens from problems associated with those operations. 

Parson could not get a final vote on his bill but promises to keep working .  If the legislature approves the bill, the issue goes to a statewide vote.

Audio: Debate, part 1 :38:25

Audio: Debate part 2 42:12