Missouri's constitution already guarantees state residents the rights to freedom of religion and speech and the right to own guns. On Tuesday, residents will go to the polls to decide whether they should guarantee the right to farm, The New York Times reported.
A proposal known as Amendment 1 will be taken up in a statewide vote on Tuesday, leaving Missouri poised to change its constitution to guarantee the rights of its people to "engage in farming and ranching practices."
The debate over the proposed amendment has roiled Missouri for more than a year, with supporters saying it would end what they see as meddling by outsiders in its business practices.
Opponents have protested that the amendment would be a boon for large industrial farms that would like to avoid potential laws controlling their treatment of animals or the environment, allowing them to pollute the land, extend the use of genetically modified crops and freely experiment with the use of antibiotics in livestock, a trend that has concerned scientists.
"There is a lot of uncertainty with respect to how the amendment would actually work in practice," said Erin Morrow Hawley, an associate law professor at the University of Missouri who specializes in agricultural issues. "You could see a state law challenged based on this constitutional amendment. But the biggest aim is to prevent new state laws coming in from outside the state. The idea is to create another legal tool to stop that."