Neighbors United says "Right to Farm" prevents Ameren line

Neighbors United members protest in Jefferson City in January. The group now argues the Right to Farm amendment makes the Mark Twain line unconstitutional. (Photo: KTVO)

The group opposing the Mark Twain Transmission Project is invoking a constitutional amendment to say the line cannot be built.

According to filings with the Missouri Public Service Commission, the chief opposition group to the transmission line, Neighbors United, has added to its argument the so-called Right to Farm amendment. The controversial measure, passed in 2014, says that "the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed."

Neighbors United leaders say the proposed route of the line would disproportionately hurt farmers.

"It runs through almost 400 farm parcels, and in most cases it either diagonally cuts through, or dissects or crosses over ponds on 58 percent of the farms," said Deborah Games, one of the group's leaders and longtime members.

In Ameren's rebuttals to the group's claims, the company cites testimony by Neighbors United's attorney in which he agrees that such a strict interpretation would prevent construction of any transmission lines in rural Missouri in the future.

Instead, Ameren says that while some parcels of farmland will be affected, the actual "right to engage in agricultural production" is not affected.

Final briefs have been filed in the case, and a decision from the PSC is expected soon.

PREVIOUS STORY IMark Twain Transmission Project creates sparks in Jefferson City

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