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Farmers, ranchers, sportsmen now oppose dog-racing ban

A coalition made up of Florida’s farmers, ranchers and sportsmen have teamed up to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending live dog racing in the state, according to a Monday press release.

But a main supporter of the racing ban said their argument doesn’t hold water.

Amendment 13, which would need at least 60 percent approval on the November ballot, would ban betting on greyhound racing by the beginning of 2021.

The coalition — made up of Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the NRA, Unified Sportsmen of Florida, Future of Hunting in Florida and Florida Sportsmen United Political Committee — asks Floridians to “consider the impacts on our businesses, our food providers and our rights to hunt and fish, and vote no on Amendment 13.”

“Amendment 13 could have wide-ranging impacts on Florida’s farmers and our ability to provide food for Americans,” said Dr. Liz Steele, a veterinarian in Zolfo Springs, a member of the Florida Farm Bureau and a member of the executive committee for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

“I am seriously concerned about adding language like this to our state’s Constitution,” Steele added. “For our farms, for our families, for our dinner tables, vote ‘no’ on Amendment 13.”

Using a previous argument of the Florida Greyhound Association, the coalition notes that the amendment itself says the “humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida.”

“This type of vague, undefined declaration in Florida’s Constitution is likely to be exploited by activist groups to bring lawsuits against family farms and sportsmen,” the release says.

“Amendment 13 could seriously hinder the rights of Floridians to hunt and fish,” said Bill Marvin, chairman of the Future of Hunting in Florida.

“Adding this language to the Constitution could destroy our culture,” Marvin said. “Not to mention, it would eviscerate our state’s reputation as the Fishing Capital of the World, which draws thousands and thousands of tourists to our waters every year.”

It calls Amendment 13 supporters “extreme animal rights activists who have expressed their desire to shut down family farms and ban hunting and fishing.”

“This amendment is a Trojan Horse,” said longtime Tallahassee NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. “We cannot be fooled. This is an attack on our rights as Floridians and as Americans.”

Carey Theil, Senior Advisor to the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, said greyhound breeders “have lost the debate over whether dog racing is cruel and inhumane.

“As a result, the industry is now trying to fool voters by hiding behind this phony ‘coalition’ which is, in reality, a stalking horse for the greyhound industry,” he said in a statement.

“The Florida Constitution already states that the inhumane treatment of animals is a concern of Florida citizens. Further, the false argument being promoted by these front groups was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court only a few weeks ago.

“In a 6-1 decision, the Court found that the purpose language ‘bestows no rights, imposes no duties, and does not empower the Legislature to take any action.’ ”

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Andrew Gillum Andrew Gillum

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