The American voters have spoken and the United States has a new president for the next four years. The outcome was surprising for most, good news for some, and upsetting for others. Only time will tell if the choice was the right one for the United States as a country.

Meanwhile, state elections had some controversial results of their own. A few legalized the recreational use of marijuana, others will now have stricter gun laws, and two states gave voters food for thought on agriculture.

In Oklahoma, a ballot question to protect state farms from new regulations unless there was a “compelling state interest” was rejected by 60 percent of voters. While the Oklahoma Farm Bureau was a supporter, one of the measure’s biggest opponents was a group known as the Oklahoma Stewardship Council, which included participants from various animal rights and environmental groups.

In Massachusetts, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question that phases out “extreme methods of farm animal confinement” even though it is estimated to increase their food bill by $45 per person per year. The new law, which goes into effect in 2022, prohibits any confinement of pigs, calves, or hens that would prevent them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely. The measure passed despite a heavy ad campaign by the National Association of Egg Farmers to show the facts about today’s modern cage layers.

The above ballot measures show that Americans are increasingly being allowed to choose how agriculture conducts business. Why? By voting in Donald J. Trump as their next president, many Americans declared they are tired of big government telling them what to do. So why are they telling American agriculture what to do despite being provided facts to the contrary?

Whatever the reason, it is agriculture’s responsibility now more than ever to educate consumers on where their food comes from, how food animals are raised and processed in the most humane way, and how the industry is striving to be sustainable while feeding a growing population.

December 2016 RENDER | back