Saint Louis, Mo. — Supporters and opponents of Amendment 1, the so-called “Right to Farm” ballot language, will be working voters at the polls until the last minute, and a recent poll shows the issue is too close to call. Remington Research Group, a Kansas-City based polling firm, found the issue polling at 48 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed with 12 percent up for grabs.
That wasn’t the story only a few short months ago. Supporters like Rep. Casey Guernsey, admits that even a few weeks ago, conventional wisdom said Amendment 1 was a lock. But opposition, like Missouri’s Food for America, re-doubled a campaign against the measure, thanks in no small part to generous funds from the Humane Society of the United States.
“Supporters of Amendment 1 took for granted our campaign and our grassroots organization has definitely made this race too close to call,” said former Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell, who currently works with the Humane Society. “We’re also going to get more ‘no’ votes in areas like southwest Missouri than supporters anticipated. They underestimated the depth of opposition to this language.”
At the core of the issue is whether or not the fairly innocent-sounding language would, in fact, open the door for corporate farming and industrial polluters without legal recourse. Guernsey characterized the Humane Society’s tactics as a “smear campaign.”
“They are either ignoring or lying about state statute,” Guernsey said. “Corporate farming is expressly prohibited in the state of Missouri. People want to talk about this Monsanto bill, and guess what? Monsanto is not a corporate farm. That’s not what they do. It mystifies me the amount of misinformation that has plagued this issue.”
For Guernsey, there is one upside to 16 editorial page denouncements and the Humane Society’s vigorous lobbying in opposition: it solidifies some support.
“When a paper like the Springfield News-Leader recommends a ‘no’ vote, that probably helps us,” Guernsey said. “Farmers in these areas know that these editorial boards are out of touch and completely taken over by liberals. They are so far out of touch and everybody knows it.”
Both Maxwell and Guernsey said that turnout in different parts of the state would decide the issue. In some counties in rural Missouri, there are few races on the ticket to attract voters, while both St. Louis and Kansas City have contentious regional primaries.
Maxwell maintained that the growing trend was against the measure, and that conservative voters wouldn’t take changing the constitution lightly. Guernsey characterized the effort as an attempt to energize rural voters to overcome “liberal spin.”
This year’s turnout, as hard as it will be to predict, will decide the fate of Amendment 1.
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email email@example.com or via Twitter at @CMReischman