There’s a lot that could be said about last night’s election, and it’s certianly going to affect the legislation coming out of Washington in a big way for the next two years at least. However, I think there is one very clear, very direct ag story that happened last night.
I’m talking about Missouri Proposition B. The “puppy” bill. First, I don’t claim intimate knowledge of the bill, secondly, I’m aware there’s no direct language in the prop discussing farm animals. Yet, I’m also aware that several Missouri farm/animal groups opposed the measure, including Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, and Missouri Farm Family Agricultural Alliance.
I have spoken to few farmers or anyone in these organizations about the issue, but it seems obvious to me it’s once again the core challenge of out-of-state special interest groups whose budget is more about money/politics than actual animal welfare that intend through ballot measures to write the rules on animal care. This is good for neither the well being of people or animals.
But, the point isn’t what I think on the topic. The point is the voters, and here we have a critical, critical lesson. Study this map a bit. Notice the incredibly strong urban/rural divide? You can see individual county votes by moving your mouse over them. Basically a few thousand votes made the difference, and yet, in many, many rural counties 70 to 80%+ votes were in opposition. Yet, in the Kansas City and St. Louis metro area, 75-78% of the voting was in support. I don’t even know that I’ve seen liberal/conservative candidates generate that wide of gap.
So, we have work to do! This clearly demonstrates the intense need for agriculture advocacy, of sharing the modern ag story with those far removed from the farm. I don’t think it’s going to be successful to wait until there’s a ballot initiative in your state, than try to explain why your opposed. No we have to start at a much more basic level. One thats harder to get and maintain motivation to do. We have to re-connect with a population that doesn’t understand how their food is grown. We also have to seriously consider how to assure a skeptical public that there is laws/regulations in place that do offer reasonable animal care standards. I’m watching initiatives like the Ohio Livestock Standards Care Board closely on this topic.
I’ve been involved in this less than a year, but this morning, studying this map, I see clearly and plainly the work that needs done. And being a farmer, I know of no other way to go about it than rolling up the shirt sleeves and “agvocating” another day, something it seems will simply be part of my operation for the rest of my life. Will you join me?