AR Philosophy > Legalities
Constitutional Right to Farm? Or Legal Right to Torture Animals?

by Mac McDaniel
November 14, 2011

Farmers in North Dakota are seeking to add an amendment to the state's constitution that would guarantee the legal right to farm and ranch.
The North Dakota Farm Bureau hopes to bring the ballot measure before voters next year. The amendment would read:

"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."

The measure is largely a reaction to recent efforts by the Humane Society of the United States to bring animal welfare measures to ballots in states like Ohio. Farmers in North Dakota hope to cover their bases with a constitutional amendment in case HSUS shows up and attempts to curtail their business practices.

"Business practices," "modern livestock production," these are phrases that sound professional and harmless but anyone who has seen pictures or footage of CAFOs know that "agricultural technology" and "ranching practices" include dehorning, debeaking, castration, boiling animals alive, tearing newborn calves from their mothers and branding cows on their faces.

These euphemisms obscure the truth about what animal agriculture actually is: unmitigated cruelty, misery and death. The text of the amendment could more accurately read:

"The right of farmers and ranchers to slit the throats of animals so they choke on their own blood. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ 'rape racks' to forcibly impregnate cows, tear their babies away shortly after birth, kill the baby for veal and milk the mother to death for dairy products."

Let it be known that I am not siding with HSUS. I do not agree with their sentiment that animal use is inevitable and the only thing we can do is to try to give animals larger cages. I advocate nothing short of veganism. No animal use, however "humane," can be justified morally.

While I disagree with the HSUS's tactics, it's disgusting to see ranchers and farmers who react to growing public concern about animal rights by digging in their heels and trying to legally enshrine their cruel practices in a state constitution.

These farmers know that the tide is turning against them and they're panicking and doing everything they can to keep their cruel industry going as long as they can. But the animal rights issue will be solved by education and boycott, not through welfare legislation.

Its passage could be seen as a setback for the movement, but a constitutional amendment can't stop a grassroots movement to educate people about animal rights. A constitutional amendment can't stop a person from going vegan. A constitutional amendment can't stop a movement.

If you want to see the end of the "modern livestock production" and "business practices" of animal agriculture you have the power to save animal lives without a ballot referendum simply by going vegan.

Read more:

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,