Keeping an eye on ballot initiatives and activist activities in North Dakota
By Steve Dick
With the Nov. 6 election just a few weeks away, it is easy to focus on the presidential and other high-profile races. However, we’re also watching closely ballot initiatives and activist outreach in other states, especially in North Dakota.
As we’ve seen in states like California, ballot initiatives can introduce costly and unnecessary regulations for farmers, as well as trigger expensive and high profile battles to educate voters. In North Dakota, there are two ballot measures related to animal care and food production.
Measure 5 (North Dakota Prevention of Animal Cruelty Initiative 2012) would make it a class C felony for an individual to maliciously harm a dog, cat, or horse. Measure 5 is funded by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which is known for its anti-agriculture stance. A broad-based and growing coalition named North Dakota Animal Stewards that represents farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, pet owners, animal shelter workers, and sportsmen and women, is working to oppose the measure. Visit their web site or Facebook page for additional information.
Measure 3 (North Dakota Farming and Ranching Amendment 2012) calls for a constitutional amendment that would block any law “which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” The amendment is sponsored by the North Dakota Farm Bureau, and more information is available at North Dakota Feeding Families.
It is important for South Dakota’s agricultural community watch these activities closely. In fact, in an interview with Brownfield radio network, a leader of the Missouri Farmers Care Coalition speculated that South Dakota might be next on HSUS’ list of targets for a ballot measure in the next few years.
We have to build good foundation of trust with our neighbors and communities so that if a ballot initiative DOES come to our state, South Dakotans won’t be swayed by inaccuracies from HSUS and others.
It starts with all of us … every conversation with friends, neighbors or family members makes a different. Invite your neighbors to tour your farm, share information with church or club members, and don’t be afraid to jump in to social media conversations about how food is produced. If you need help answering questions, or would like support for tours or open houses, please contact me or Kelly Nelson at Ag United, or any one of our coalition organizations.