The statewide issue of Missouri's so-called Right to Farm initiative came to Callaway County Thursday night during a forum sponsored by Friends for Responsible Agriculture, a county organization in opposition to a potential Kingdom City hog farm.
Jeff Jones, spokesperson for Friends, welcomed the crowd of nearly 100 people to the forum at Hatton-McCredie Elementary School. Those in attendance heard from the Amendment 1 opposition - Wes Shoemyer, a former state senator and leader of Missouri's Food for America - and support - Dan Cassidy, the chief financial officer for the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Jones related Amendment 1 to his concerns of the potential hog farm operation that could bring about 10,000 hogs to Kingdom City on Horstmeier Farms.
He said if Right to Farm passes, it will put pressure on the family farmer. He added that it would create an "imbalance" between smaller-scale farmers and corporations dominating the food industry. Because of vague language, Jones said he thinks disputes between farmers could be settled in court and corporations with more money and time would always have the upper hand in defeating independent farmers.
Jones said Right to Farm would cause confusion over the power of an agreement between Gary Horstmeier and his neighbors signed more than a decade ago. The agreement states the Horstmeiers cannot build a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) within five miles of its existing facility. Jones previously told the Fulton Sun that the proposed site is within two-and-a-half miles of the existing facility.
A petition drive opposing the potential hog confinement garnered nearly 1,500 signatures, Jones said Thursday night. The Callaway County Commission will respond to that petition at today at a 9 a.m. meeting.