Measure 3 on the Nov. 6 general election ballot 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 of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.”
North Dakota voters should vote yes on Measure 3 and place that language in the state’s constitution.
Farming and ranching are critical elements in the state’s heritage and its economic future. Ensuring agriculture’s primacy makes good sense.
There has been a movement in Europe and parts of the United States to restrict farming and ranching practices based on changing urban sensibilities that are disconnected from production agriculture. Food politics that many North Dakotans would consider anti-agriculture get credibility in the nation’s large urban areas.
In other words, there’s cause for the North Dakota farm and ranch community to protect its interests. And those North Dakotans who do not depend directly on agriculture also have a serious stake in the continued practice of modern farming and ranching.
The language of the proposed constitutional 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. Guaranteeing modern farm and ranch practices, including production techniques and use of state-of-the-art technology, does not set aside environmental law or regulation of air and water quality.
What it does to is establish the essential parameters for state laws that may follow. It gives farmers and ranchers additional legal tools with which they can protect their way of life.
It’s true that the constitutional measure singles out agriculture for protection and not other legitimate businesses and industries. But farming and ranching — despite the oil boom in western North Dakota — always will be special element in the identity of the state’s residents.
Measure 3 was placed on the ballot by petition and by the signatures of more than 26,904 North Dakotans. That’s a respectable endorsement by rank and file citizens of this state.
Guaranteeing farming and ranching’s future in North Dakota is pretty hard to argue against. It’s part of who North Dakotans are, and who we want to continue to be.
Vote yes on Measure 3 on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.