OKLAHOMA CITY – You’ve probably seen signs around town dealing with the so-called ‘Right to Farm’ state question.
State Question 777 would prevent lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate broad farming and ranching practices unless there is a compelling state interest. The so-called ‘Right to Farm’ bill would amend the constitution and create guaranteed rights for the agriculture industry.
Critics of the bill say that it would benefit corporate farms the most, and would hinder local leaders’ abilities to protect their communities from harmful practices.
“It’s bad timing. It’s bad law,” said Oklahoma City Ward 4 Councilman Pete White. “This is an effort on the part of big corporations to not have to follow regulations. I mean, there’s no question in my mind about it.”
Several communities across the state have voted to publicly oppose the bill.
Supports believe the bill would prevent nuisance laws from being passed.
“If clean water doesn’t rise to the level of being in the best interest of the public, I don’t know what does,” said Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council. “And, so, for arguments to be made that this will restrict the ability to regulate clean water, I think those are just scare tactics raised by those that are opposed.”
The Pork Council is one of at least nine local groups that have voiced their support for SQ 777.
However, Oklahoma voters were not in favor of the measure and struck it down.
With 1,300 of 1,956 precincts reporting, 58.4% of voters were against the measure, compared to 41.5% who supported it.
“On behalf of the more than 26,000 family farmers and ranchers, Oklahoma Farm Bureau wants to thank the thousands of Oklahomans who voted for State Question 777, Oklahoma’s Right to Farm. Family farmers and ranchers of Oklahoma work hard to provide the safest, most affordable food this Nation has seen. Although we are disappointed in today’s vote, we will not waver in our commitment to ensuring our family farmers and ranchers can continue to operate without fear from outside interest groups and provide consumers with choice when they go to the grocery store. This has always been the charge of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and we will continue in this endeavor,” said Tom Buchanan, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.