Local farmers weigh in on "right to farm" amendment

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COLUMBIA - Local farmers expressed mixed views on the "right to farm" ballot measure Saturday morning at the Columbia Farmers Market.

The bill has been surrounded by controversy. Some said it's positive because it would protect farmer's rights. Others think the bill is too vague. Some said it could be used to benefit large corporations and be detrimental to local farmers.

Deanna Thies, farmer and agriculture instructor, said she supports the bill because it would protect concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, where animals are kept and raised in confined areas. She said she thinks this is the best way to keep meat prices down.  

"If those facilities are set up correctly, if they follow the current regulations, you have very little smell. You have very little sound," Thies said. "The animals are happy and they're healthy."

Organic farmer, Jim Thomas, said he will be voting against the amendment because it is so vague he worries it could be used in ways it wasn't intended.

"I'm concerned about how some of the large biotech companies could use it to escape liability," Thomas said.

Missouri farmers, along with all other Missouri citizens, will have the chance to voice their opinions on the measure Aug. 5 at the polls.