farm operation

On August 6, Missouri narrowly passed the “Right-to-Farm” amendment by 2,500 votes.

Section 35 Article 1 of the Missouri Constitution will soon read:

That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy.  To protect this vital section of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.

Right-to-farm measures have been generally used to protect agricultural operations from nuisance suits filed by neighbors due to unavoidable noise, dust, and odors.  Missouri farmers and ranchers were already protected to a degree from nuisance suits by Missouri statute Section 537.295, which led many to wonder why a constitutional amendment was necessary.

Proponents of the amendment rightfully argue the amendment makes farming a constitutional right on par with other constitutional protections.  Therefore, future legislation and local initiatives limiting agriculture would be more difficult to adopt and apply.

A win for agriculture for sure, but a limited victory.  A farmer’s right-to-farm is still subject to local and state authority as conferred by Article VI of the constitution.  Furthermore, the amendment is unlikely to reduce the number of nuisance claims since the amendment does not increase the protections already provided under Section 537.295.