“We have never supported anything of this scale,” Special interest groups donate hundreds of thousands to controversial farm bill

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OKLAHOMA - A political action committee has raised more than $1 million in support of a controversial ballot measure we’ll vote on in November.

State Question 777 would amend our constitution to add broad protections for the agricultural industry.

Some said it would add too many protections that would really only help corporate farming.

A campaign finance report shows the two biggest donors supporting the measure are both big special interest groups who do a lot of lobbying at the capitol.

“We see a lot of the legislation coming off the east coast and Hollywood that are attacking agriculture, and this is going to stop that type of legislation in Oklahoma,” said Rep. Scott Biggs.

That’s the message from those behind 'Right to Farm.'

Biggs said it’s a preemptive measure to protect the industry from environmental and animal rights groups.

“98 percent of the farms in Oklahoma are family farms. Of that two percent, some of those are family owned farms that have been incorporated for business reasons,” Biggs said.

“Unfortunately, if you look at the pork industry, for example, that other 2 percent of farms sell over 90 percent of the product, and that’s justified by the USDA’s agricultural census data,” said attorney Bud Scott with Oklahomans for Food, Farm and Family.

An Oklahoma Ethics Commission report shows campaign donations to the police action committee raising money to promote the measure.

It’s chaired by Biggs.

The largest donor from April to July is the Oklahoma Pork Council, giving more than $76,000 and nearly $3,000 in-kind donations.

Since the beginning of the year, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau has donated $100,000.

“All of those organizations have a check off program. They’re funded by people who sell beef or sell pork as it goes through the process, a certain amount of those sales go to these funding programs for these kind of campaigns,” Scott said.

The executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council told NewsChannel 4 Tuesday his group plans to donate more money.

"We have never supported anything of this scale. State Question 777 is essential for the future of agriculture in Oklahoma," said Exec. Director Roy Lee Lindsey.

A right wing policy organization, ALEC, is pushing similar legislation all over the country, especially in the Midwest.

A similar measure recently failed in Nebraska.

State Question 777 is tied up now at the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

A decision that will determine whether it will keep it on the ballot has not been decided.

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