Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

10 Reasons to Oppose ‘Right to Farm’ Amendments

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page.

I grew up on a dairy farm and currently live in a small town in a farming area. I have spent my 50-year professional career working in agriculture, mostly with farmers and people in rural communities. I think farmers have the same "right to farm" as other Americans have to pursue any other professional occupation. However, I don't think real farmers deserve, need, or even want special constitutional privileges. Here are ten reasons for opposing "right to farm amendments."

1. Agricultural producers already benefit from special right to farm "legislation" in all agricultural states. These laws protect farmers from frivolous nuisance suits brought by uninformed or intolerant neighbors who have moved into traditional farming communities.

2. People in rural communities who have the greatest concern for the future of family farms and rural communities are opposing right to farm amendments. National organizations, such as the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Sierra Club, support rural opponents because they don't think agriculture should be exempt from public accountability for their actions.

3. Right to farm amendments are but the latest and boldest tactics of corporate, industrial agriculture to protect itself from growing public concerns about the overall integrity of the American food system. Previous tactics include Right to Farm laws of 1970s and 1980s, veggie libel laws of the 1990s, and ag-gag laws of the 2000s.

4. There is no economic justification for exempting industrial agriculture from the environmental and public health regulations. Industrial farms have not lowered the prices of meat, milk, or eggs in the past 20 years, and about 30 percent of U.S. production is now diverted to exports, keeping food prices high for Americans. It has driven independent producers off their farms and destroyed the economies of rural communities.    

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