We all have had some very important and major wins in the 2015 Legislative Session protecting LOCAL CONTROL and preserving “Our Right to Know”!
You Protected Local Control–
The anti-local control Agri-Ready language in Senate Bill 131 was removed this week and House Bill 882 died in the Senate. This legislation would have punished Missouri counties that have health ordinances that hold corporate agri-business accountable to family farms, rural communities and the people.
Also defeated–Senate Bill 553 and House Bill 999, bills that would have completely gutted Local Control and the ability of local elected representatives to protect the health and welfare of their constituents from corporate controlled factory farms.
You, family farmers, concerned consumers and local elected representatives stood up and spoke out letting legislators in Jefferson City know that taking away local control is not an option.
Protected Our Right to Know–Corporate and Government Accountability.
The bad anti-Sunshine Law language in House Bill 479 and Senate Bill 131 was also defeated this week. This legislation would have prohibited disclosure of ANY data collected for the purpose of animal health or environmental protection from release under the Missouri Sunshine Law.
This vaguely worded language: would have blocked access by Missouri citizens and the public to vital information about issues like factory farm pollution and waste spills, and could have led to harmful levels of corporate and government secrecy and could shield bad actors from accountability for irresponsible practices. Blocking citizen access to this information would have been a violation of basic democratic principles and could lead to a host of unforeseen and unintended consequences for our state.
Beat Back “The Pollution Protection Act”—
The “Pollution Protection Act”, House Bill 999 & Senate Bill 54 would have taken away constitutional rights of farmers and landowners to protect their property & property rights through the court system. Corporate lobbyists once again convinced some legislators of the need to protect a very small minority of corporate industrial livestock operations at the expense of the property rights of the majority of family farms and rural landowners. This bill finally died on Friday the 17th, the last day of the legislative session.
The Lousy News
Beef Check-Off Tax—A Pro-Corporate Tax on Missouri’s Cattle Producers.
The beef check-off language was passed in March in an omnibus bill and signed by Governor Nixon in April. This legislation will allow the Missouri Beef Council to hold a referendum to increase the Missouri beef check-off by taking a vote of a very small fraction of beef producers who could end up saddling all of Missouri’s 53,000 beef producers with this unnecessary and unpopular tax. The beef check-off is an outdated and obsolete program that serves only corporate agriculture and harms independent producers.
However, the good news is we can still defeat this bogus check-off in the referendum process.
Foreign Ownership of MO Farmland—Selling Out MO Farmers & Consumers
Pro-corporate ag lobbyists stonewalled repeated attempts to limit foreign ownership of MO farmland and even passed legislation that opens up more loopholes for foreign corporations to buy more and more Missouri farmland. Apparently, China-owned Smithfield Foods Inc. may need more land. Right now, over 200,000 acres of our MO farmland is vulnerable to multi-national corporate conglomerates, so next year we need to make sure the foreign ownership statute is re-written to close these loopholes and lower the amount of Missouri farmland that is available for foreign corporations to own and control.
Help us make an even bigger impact!
Supporting the right cause—Family Farms vs. Corporate Ag: All of your great work highlights the importance of Missourians (both rural and urban, farmers and consumers) making their voices heard in the policy debate in Jefferson City—without all your good work, Missouri would be a much different place to live. And, we need to grow our power even more!
For that reason, we are asking for just one more thing—Do you know someone who cares about farm and food issues? If you do, please ask them to sign up for our action alert list on our website at www.morural.org or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
THANK YOU again for all your great work this year—Your impact in the democratic process in Missouri is NECESSARY!