Wendy Reuer, Published August 02 2011
UPDATED: Amendment aims to protect North Dakota farmers and ranchersFARGO – A proposed amendment to the North Dakota Constitution is designed to ensure protection of the state’s largest industry, supporters say.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger and the state attorney general have five to seven business days to draft a petition title, which must fairly represent the measure and must be included on the petition circulated for signatures of qualified electors. The petition title will be provided to the sponsoring committee no earlier than Monday and no later than Aug. 10.
The two-sentence amendment reads, “The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.”
The North Dakota Farm Bureau is promoting the petition, which is backed by 25 members of a sponsoring committee.
Eric Aasmundstad, president of the Farm Bureau and a farmer near Devils Lake, said the amendment is not aimed at any particular group or threat.
“We know there are a lot of forces out there that probably aren’t as friendly to the business of agriculture as we are here in the state of North Dakota,” he said, “and we want to make sure this business has constitutional guarantees.”
He said the law could help against overregulation or lawsuits such as those from environmental groups.
Aasmundstad said the amendment’s use of “modern farming and ranching practices” means to protect science-proven methods.
“We’re putting an emphasis that has strong science behind them,” he said.
The sponsoring committee will need to compile 26,904 signatures to place the measure on the ballot.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530