Ag-Related Ballot Initiatives

With the 2012 election wrapping up, it was imperative to also look at amendments and ballot initiatives that could have influenced ag policy and practices.

Proposition 37
Voters in California and North Dakota rejected two ballot initiatives that were opposed by agriculture groups. Californians rejected Proposition 37, that would have mandated genetically modified foods (GM) to be labeled as such.

The opponents of Proposition 37 did not so much directly attack the notion of consumers’ right to know. Instead, they said Proposition 37 was worded in a way that might lead to red tape, rising food prices and a flurry of lawsuits against food companies and supermarkets.

Backers of Proposition 37 called these claims misleading, arguing that consumers have the right to know what is in their food.

With 95 percent of precincts having partially reported by early Wednesday morning, the measure was trailing by 53 to 47 percent, according to the California secretary of state.

Measure 5
Meanwhile, North Dakota voters rejected Measure 5, the proposal that that would have created a felony penalty for malicious cruelty to a dog, cat or horse.

Veterinarians, animal shelters and others who care for and about animals found themselves on opposing sides in the fight over Measure 5. It was supported by North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty and would make it a Class C felony to “maliciously and intentionally” harm a dog, cat or horse.

It would not have applied to production agriculture or to lawful activities of hunters, trappers, licensed veterinarians or scientific researchers, or to people acting in defense of life or property.

North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states without a felony animal abuse penalty.

Both sides spent heavily to promote their respective call for a “yes” or “no” vote on Measure 5, with campaign finance reports filed with the secretary of state’s office totaling well more than $1 million by last week.

Much of the funding for the measure came from the Humane Society of the United States, which opponents sought to discredit as a radical organization.

“Their agenda is to change how animal agriculture functions and works and to stop the ‘exploitation’ of all animals in the United States,” said Doug Goehring, state commissioner of agriculture.

Measure 5 was defeated 67 percent to 33 percent.



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