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Mikkel Pates, Forum Communications, Published November 06 2012

66 percent for ND ‘Right-to-farm’ policy with majority of precincts reporting

Measure 3, the North Dakota “right to farm” constitutional amendment measure, had 66 percent of the vote as of press deadline Tuesday, with 71 percent of precincts reporting. The measure was spearheaded over an entire year by the North Dakota Farm Bureau.

If passed, nothing statutorily would change.

“It would have to be a legal challenge” over some agricultural practice, said Jeff Missling, Farm Bureau executive vice president. “Hopefully, it would never have to be used.”

Missling said the measure was a proactive effort to defend against certain outside groups, especially the Humane Society of the United States, which he said incrementally undermines livestock and other agricultural practices. The measure would prohibit any law that “abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern production and ranching practices.”

He said the organization spent more than $150,000 in the effort, which came from state and county organization coffers. The only outside, unsolicited donation was $500 from the North Dakota Grain Growers, which supports genetically modified organism technology in crops. The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and about 50 other agriculture groups, including the North Dakota Ag Coalition, came out in favor of it.

The North Dakota Farmers Union was the only organization publicly against Measure 3, and spent about $50,000 internally and externally in opposition of it, said Woody Barth, the organization’s president. The NDFU said it is contrary to many of its policy positions and is redundant to state laws.