Big Ag Gets Ag-Gag Envy, Helps Bring In 'Seed-Preemption' Laws Across The US
from the local-democracy,-who-needs-it? dept
As multiple Techdirt stories attest, farmers do love their “ag-gag” laws, which effectively make it illegal for activists to expose animal abuse in agricultural establishments — although, strangely, farmers don’t phrase it quite like that. Big Ag — the giant seed and agricultural chemical companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, and DuPont — seem to have decided they want something similar for seeds. As an article in Mother Jones, originally published by Food and Environment Reporting Network, reports, it looks like they are getting it:
With little notice, more than two dozen state legislatures have passed “seed-preemption laws” designed to block counties and cities from adopting their own rules on the use of seeds, including bans on GMOs. Opponents say that there’s nothing more fundamental than a seed, and that now, in many parts of the country, decisions about what can be grown have been taken out of local control and put solely in the hands of the state.
Supporters of the move claim that a system of local seed rules would be complicated to navigate. That’s a fair point, but it’s hard to believe Big Ag really cares about farmers that much. Some of the new laws go well beyond seeds:
Language in the Texas version of the bill preempts not only local laws that affect seeds but also local laws that deal with “cultivating plants grown from seed.? In theory, that could extend to almost anything: what kinds of manure or fertilizer can be used, or whether a county can limit irrigation during a drought, says Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. Along with other activists, her organization was able to force an amendment to the Texas bill guaranteeing the right to impose local water restrictions. Still, the law’s wording remains uncomfortably open to interpretation, she says.
You would have thought that farmers would welcome the ability to shape local agricultural laws according to local needs and local factors like weather, water and soil. But apparently ag-gagging activists to stop them doing the same is much more important.