Earlier this week, North Dakota voters made their state the first in the nation to enshrine a right to farm in the state constitution, potentially protecting state farmers from local regulations and nuisance lawsuits.
The election results are hardly a surprise given North Dakota’s reliance on agriculture. Supporters of the measure argue that it will protect farmers from current and future regulations, but opponents argue that the amendment was unnecessary and broadly worded. The approved amendment guarantees the right of farmers to engage in modern agriculture and “to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices.”
Supporters of the proposal painted it as a necessary step to protect the vital farm sector (while pointing out the difficulty that some states have had with animal rights referendums and government regulations). “It’s going to give us a big leg up on special-interest groups that come in from outside and want to tell us what to do and what not to do,” said Doyle Johannes, president of the state Farm Bureau. “They’re not going to stop. That was the big thing, to beat these people back. We don’t need outsiders coming here and telling us how to do things.”
Opponents have argued that the broad language of the amendment would not only prevent legitimate regulation, but also could open the state up to court challenges and tie up valuable state resources.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer