With a possible recount looming large, Lucas Oil founder and CEO Forrest Lucas offered no quarter to opponents of Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1, at one point likening them to “terrorists,” during a Protect the Harvest press conference Thursday at the Missouri State Fair.
After a brief introduction by State Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, Lucas discussed the beginnings of the group.
“This thing started with Proposition B,” Lucas said. “The animal rights extremists, environmentalists, were having their way with the whole country. They were just walking through destroying everything everywhere. They came here talking about a puppy mill bill, but the puppy mill bill was bigger than that.”
Voters passed the Missouri Dog Breeding Regulation Act in 2010. According to Lucas, when Prop B passed Missouri produced about 45-46 percent of all the puppies sold around the county. The term “pets,” a term that was broadly defined in the constitution, created an umbrella under which farm animals could also fall.
“Here in Missouri, when they wrote the constitution they put in the word ‘pet’ and a ‘pet’ is anything that can live within 15 feet of your house. So virtually, every farm critter you have would come under this guise,” Lucas said.
While Lucas admitted the first part of the Act was clear — “You read the first part of it, it’s about taking care of the dogs and cats and making sure they are fed and watered and everything. We all got that.” — the real purpose of the Act was to enable state control.
“They tried to get this thing passed. Way down deep inside, the state, and ‘they’ with the state, would have had control of our animals. We would be out of the agriculture business in the state of Missouri. You could not afford to raise animals,” Lucas said.
Lucas formed Protect the Harvest, which, according to the group’s mission statement, was created to fight back and defend American families, farmers, sportsmen and animal owners from the growing threat posed by the radical animal rights movement.
“I learned a lot fighting them. What I learned is nobody else in the country was fighting against them, not as an organization,” Lucas said. “I knew I could, we already beat them here. I knew enough about them, I knew I had enough name, enough money so I could take on the battle and go on to the point where somebody who has millions to lose would come in and help us out.”
Right to Farm passed by more than 2,500 votes in Tuesday’s primary election, 498,751 voting yes and 496,223 voting no, a 0.2 percent margin.
“We beat them out on the federal level — we beat them on the state level. Now, one of things they are doing is slipping in on the county levels and getting little things passed through the county commissioners or mayors of small towns and stuff, where it’s hard for us to know all that’s happened. They are chipping away at us now, so this will stop that,” Lucas said.
“We as Americans should not even have to worry about having people out here to fight us, it’s like they’re terrorists. A terrorist is somebody who uses fear to get you to do something you wouldn’t do ordinarily.”
With Missouri law allowing for a recount for any item that wins by less than a 0.5 percent margin and opponents meeting Wednesday to discuss that possibility, according to the Associated Press, a recount may be in the works.
As Lucas was asked about that possibility, Parson stepped in, saying the purpose of Protect the Harvest was to spread the truth.
“Missouri on Tuesday was a perfect example of how we’ve got to bridge the gap even more between our urban colleagues and our rural areas. And we’ve got to do a better job of getting our message out, we really do,” Parson said.
“You can do that through organizations like Protect the Harvest and our ag companies, but the last thing, the last thing we need is division in the states. If we can get the facts out through Protect the Harvest or whatever means, I feel that’s how we are going to bridge those gaps. ”
Lucas then added that a recount appeared imminent, but it would not change the numbers.
“The recount is going to be there, you know that,” he said. “I feel that with a 2,500 vote margin, as narrow as that is, with today’s technology and everything we will be OK. I think it would be very tough for those numbers to change that much.”
Right to Farm passed in Pettis County by almost a 2-1 margin, 66.13 percent to 33.87 percent, but the measure was shot down in mostly urban areas. Lucas says one way to bridge this gap is to keep the price of food down.
“We have got to keep the price of groceries down for the poor people who can’t afford to get in a bidding war over eggs and hamburger,” Lucas said. “We are trying to take care of the common people and those are the people living in the cities getting this misinformation. They need to understand Protect the Harvest and the Farmers of Missouri are trying to protect them.”
More information on Protect the Harvest is available at protecttheharvest.com.