By Garrett Hawkins

It’s become cliché at this point to say that an election provides the opportunity to shape the future of government. From the top of the ticket to the last item on the ballot, you repeatedly hear how important it is to be an informed and engaged voter.

But hear me out, because this time, it really does matter. And it’s more important than ever to be paying attention.

In Missouri, there are important races everywhere you look. From selecting the next United States Senator to a ballot initiative that wants to add nearly 40 pages of text to an already-bloated state Constitution, your input on November 8 will help shape the course of local, state and national history.

At Missouri Farm Bureau, we’ve never shied away from fighting on behalf of our members. Farm Bureau members have a direct and influential voice in the political arena through our Political Action Committee (PAC). Every county Farm Bureau has a say in who they appoint to their regional PAC, hammering home the grassroots mission of our organization. Our leadership takes its cues from our members, who once again have chosen to stand behind a number of candidates and against a disingenuous initiative petition designed to circumvent the robust legislative process and deceive and deflect from the true meaning of what – and who – is behind the cause.

At the very top of the ticket, MOFB is supporting Attorney General Eric Schmitt in his race for our open U.S. Senate seat. Schmitt earned Farm Bureau’s endorsement by standing up for rural Missourians and fighting against government overreach. As Attorney General, he’s tackled the opioid crisis, pushed back against California’s Prop. 12 regulation and gone head-to-head with the Biden Administration to stop its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Schmitt knows that our economy is stronger when America leads on energy production. He doesn’t just come with words; he turns those words into action.

MOFB’s PAC has also put its support behind the reelection campaigns of U.S. House members Ann Wagner, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Sam Graves and Jason Smith, while also endorsing two new candidates in Eric Burlison and Mark Alford. At the state level, twelve individuals seeking either a first-time spot or reelection to the Missouri Senate have also garnered endorsements and deserve your vote.

Marketed as a marijuana legalization initiative, Amendment 3 has generated incredible misinformation and brought in millions of dollars to confuse voters on the amendment’s true purpose. MOFB members have made it clear through our policy development process that our organization does not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. However, the poorly vetted details of the proposed marijuana program raise additional red flags that could cement bad policy in our State Constitution.

Organizations and individuals from all over the political spectrum have spoken out against Amendment 3. Governor Mike Parson, the Missouri NAACP, Missouri Sheriffs United, the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Missouri Hospital Association and publications like the St. Louis American have penned their opposition. The Missouri Republican Party is opposed. Even the Libertarian Party, which is typically supportive of drug legalization, is opposed. The Democratic Party has voted to stay neutral on this poorly crafted ballot initiative even though its party platform supports legalization.

Amendment 3 continues to garner diverse opposition not only because of the traditional concerns about health and safety, but also because it creates a constitutionally protected monopoly for the current medical marijuana license holders who are bankrolling this proposal. Nearly everyone has a problem with this initiative. Even organizations and individuals who support the initiative state it’s “not perfect” but say they are willing to look the other way to advance the marijuana agenda. Inserting an everlasting, rambling, 39-page amendment to the Missouri Constitution with this many questions is concerning. MOFB urges everyone to cast a ‘no’ vote on Amendment 3.

For both the present and the future, every election is important – even ones without a battle for President. Take time to gather information that’s important to you and your family, and make the effort to vote on November 8.

Garrett Hawkins, a farmer from St. Clair County, is President of Missouri Farm Bureau.