OKLAHOMA CITY - It’s the state question that’s been dubbed the “right to farm,” but some are saying it simply paves the way for big corporations to pollute Oklahoma's resources.
Opponents of State Question 777 gathered on the banks of the Oklahoma River on Friday afternoon, saying if the measure passes, it will keep the legislature and cities from being able to protect our water.
“777 says subject to no regulation, and we can’t stand that. Our lakes can’t stand it, our rivers can’t stand it. The health of our children can’t stand it,” said Drew Edmondson, former attorney general.
Edmondson has been an outspoken opponent of State Question 777 from the start.
The question guarantees businesses the right to engage in certain farming and ranching practices. It would also prohibit the legislature from passing laws against those practices without a compelling state interest.
Sen. Kay Floyd has now joined the fight against the measure as well.
“Under 777, corporate agriculture will operate however they choose with no requirement to respect the land or respect the water,” said Sen. Floyd.
Many mayors across our state are also opposed to it, including Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal.
“State Question 777 puts cities like Norman at risk. Because of the language of the bill, if State Question 777 passes, municipalities like mine will be unable to do anything to stop future harm to our land or to our water,” said Rosenthal.
Proponents of the state question say it is needed to protect the industry from extremist environmental or animal rights groups.
“Anything that is in law today stays in law. Municipalities are protected just like they’ve always been. They can still zone. It takes nothing away from them,” said Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers & Ranchers.
Detrick says farmers and ranchers would not abuse our natural resources because that’s what they use to make a living.
“We just want to be able to continue to produce the cheapest food anywhere in the world as we do today and we are not abusing our natural resources to do it and we don’t want to,” said Detrick.
Gov. Fallin signed House Bill 2446 into law the end of last session, declaring water to be a “compelling state interest.”
But opponents of the measure say under the state question, any law passed after 2014 is null and void and it still wouldn’t protect our waters.
The state question will be on the ballot in November.