Jim Geyer, Horace, N.D., Published November 02 2012
Letter: Measure 3 a Trojan horseInitiated Constitutional Measure No. 3, the measure guaranteeing farmers and ranchers the right to engage in modern farming and ranching practices is a Trojan horse on behalf of someone – unknown to me – trying to pull a fast one. The second sentence of the amendment says: No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” What does that mean?
For instance, it could mean large hog confinement operations would not be subject to state or local regulation for air, water or land contamination A hog operation with 100,000 hogs moving in next door? Too bad. Genetically modified crops or animals would get no state or local control. Damages to your farm next door? Too bad.
Read literally, the amendment would not allow the state to regulate the width of ag equipment on state highways. Fifty years ago, chisel plows were 12 feet wide. Now they can be 80 feet. They fold up, but would they have to if the amendment passes?
A Bismarck Tribune editorial on Oct. 17 disagrees with my reading of the amendment. The Tribune says “the amendment does not, in itself, override the state’s authority to manage land use and to delegate planning and zoning authority to cities, townships and counties.” This is a constitutional amendment. It can override laws and regulations. When the amendment says “No law shall be enacted,” the amendment’s intent is clear that “modern farming” – whatever that means – is not to be limited by state or local government. At best, the amendment is vague.
A vote “no” hurts nothing; a vote “yes” will enrich a large number of lawyers arguing over the amendment’s meaning.