The North Dakota Farm Bureau is taking the “right to farm” to the state constitution. The Farm Bureau likely has the the 27,000 signatures necessary to get a proposal on the ballot in June or November 2012 which will likely read:
“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.”
The proposal is a reaction to the recent HSUS ballot measures in Ohio and California which regulate livestock care standards in addition to recent collaborations between HSUS and various ag associations including the United Egg Producers, Ohio Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Farmers Union. North Dakota farmers are specifically concerned with idealistic but irrational regulations proposed by outsiders with no connection to North Dakota agriculture.
Opponents to the amendment argue that the amendment is too broad and ambiguous. The broad language may have serious ramifications to the rights of those who live next to the farms protected by the amendment. For example, an organic farms may be barred from recourse if their farm is contaminated by a neighboring farm using “modern farming and ranching practices.”
The North Dakota Farm Bureau has responded an individual’s right to farm does not give the individual a blank-check to farm however he/she desires. Regulations and nuisance laws governing farm siting, bio-tech crops, or pesticide would still apply.
This issue will be closely monitored as other ag based states will follow suit if North Dakota is successful.
For more information on this issue and the arguments presented by both sides please check out Blake Nicholson’s Associated Press article which you can link to here.