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When Larry Dills bought his hunting permit, he had no idea that his personal information would be used by the Missouri Department of Conservation as part of a mailing list sold to the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation (AWF) for $50,000.
Dills, a farmer, from Rogersville, spoke at the Ozarks Property Rights Congress meeting in Mountain Grove on April 28. He told the group that last fall he received a solicitation letter from AWF. The letter asked him to buy $25 tickets for a drawing raising funds to assist moving elk to Missouri. “I wrote to AWF asking where they got my name and address. I suspected it came from the Conservation Department, so I also wrote them a letter asking if they had released my name,” he said.
Dills never heard from AWF, but he got a letter from MDC Assistant Director Tom Draper who said that yes, MDC had released names of everyone who bought a hunting or fishing permit. He said they were required by the Missouri Sunshine Law to give out that information on people over the age of 16, if it was requested.
“The Missouri Department of Conservation wasn’t honest about the deal. All we read in the paper was that the Appalachian Wildlife Fund was donating $50,000 to the MDC. They gave the Department $50,000 and the MDC gave the AWF this mailing list,” Dills said. “In effect the AWF bought a mailing list for $50,000, then used the mailing list to try get the $50,000 back or perhaps more. They weren’t giving a donation, they were looking for Missouri hunters and fishermen to make the donation.”
Dills added that you can write a letter stating that you do not want your information released. Marshfield State Representative Lyndell Fraker is introducing legislation to restrict the distribution of personal information by the MDC.
Randel Agrella, from Baker Creek Seed, spoke briefly on the lawsuit filed against Monsanto. The suit was filed in March of this year on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations by Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.
Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at: http://www.pubpat.org/ assets/files/seed/OSGATA-v-Mon santo-Complaint.pdf.
Ag-legislation passing through the Missouri General Assembly was also under discussion. Doreen Hannes encouraged members to contact Gov. Jay Nixon and urge him to veto HB 209 which has passed the legislature and is on the governor’s desk for signing. “HB 209 is, in effect, statewide zoning,” she said. It gives counties the ability to, “enact ordinances to provide for the abatement of a condition of any lot or land that has the presence of rubbish and trash, lumber, bricks, tin, steel, parts of derelict motorcycles, derelict cars, derelict trucks, derelict construction equipment, derelict appliances, broken furniture, or overgrown or noxious weeds in residential subdivisions or districts which may endanger public safety or which is unhealthy or unsafe and declared to be a public nuisance.”
Rural residents can be fined for anything visible from the road that city folks might consider “visual pollution,” she said. It will give counties who sign onto this an easy route to collecting more revenue. It only takes two out of three commissioners to agree to this.
Hannes said that the bill has other parts that open up the whole state to Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). It takes away local control to stop something like a huge hog operation from cropping up next door. And it lets corporate agriculture expand by what amounts to eminent domain. It makes the playing field for small farmers extremely unlevel.
Bob Parker discussed the pitfalls of the State Of Missouri getting into the real estate business. The Missouri House passed HB 458, the Missouri Farmland Trust Act and sent it on to the Senate Agriculture, Food Production & Outdoor Resource Committee. Senator Chuck Purgason is on that committee. Parker recommends that citizens contact their senator and express their concerns.
This bill creates “the “Missouri Farmland Trust Act.” The purpose of this section is to allow individuals and entities to donate, gift, or otherwise convey farmland to the state department of agriculture for the purpose of preserving the land as farmland and to further provide beginning farmers with an opportunity to farm by allowing long-term low and variable cost leases, thereby making it affordable for the next generation of farmers to continue to produce food, fiber, and fuel.
“The department of agriculture is authorized to accept or acquire by purchase, lease, donation, or agreement any agricultural lands, easements, real and personal property, or rights in lands, easements, or real and personal property, including but not limited to buildings, structures, improvements, equipment, or facilities subject to preservation and improvement. Such lands shall be properties of the Missouri farmland trust. . .”
The Act gives the Missouri Department of Agriculture authority to appoint a five-member board to oversee the trust and determine who will be able to lease these properties.