Urban voters helped nearly defeat 'right to farm' amendment

Aug 8, 2014

Credit Kyle Stokes / KBIA

Looks like Missouri’s “Right to Farm” amendment was nearly killed by urban voters. After advocates like the Farm Bureau poured more than $1 million into ads, voters Tuesday narrowly approved the ballot measure by just one quarter of a percent.

The Missouri amendment aims to protect farmers and ranchers from new legislation that would change or outlaw current practices. It was backed by commodity groups, like the Missouri pork and soybean associations, and opposed by environmentalists, animal welfare groups and some small farmers.

During the home stretch of the state’s primary election, more urban groups, like Kansas City’s Great Plains SPCA, took a stand against the amendment which may have contributed to the push that nearly defeated the measure. Rusty Rumley of the National Agricultural Law Center says urban and suburban voters are key in seemingly rural issues.

“They’re always going to have a role to play. You see this a lot with the traditional right to farm statues because that’s usually being played out on those suburban fringes, between where urban areas meet the rural areas,” Rumley says.

Metropolitan areas, including Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia generally opposed the amendment, whereas rural counties tended to favor it.