Goats on a farm near Covington, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Question 777 would create a constitutional right to farm and ranch in Oklahoma, giving the agriculture industry unique protection from the state legislature. The ballot question concerns livestock and crops, but legal experts say the statewide measure will likely come down to lawsuits and courts.

In the weeks leading up to the November election, officials in cities and towns across the state have urged Oklahomans to vote no on SQ 777.

Trout Unlimited's Scott Hood prepares to release this small trout he caught during the group's fishing trip to the Lower Illinois River near the Lake Tenkiller dam in eastern Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Question 777 — also known as ‘right-to-farm’ — would give agricultural producers in Oklahoma the constitutional right to raise livestock and grow crops without interference from future regulations by the state Legislature, without a compelling state interest.

Opposition to the state question comes from multiple sources, but a diverse coalition urging a ‘no’ vote is united by a shared concern: water.


Farmers Wayne and Fred Schmedt watch a combine harvest wheat on their fields near Altus, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters will decide in November whether to change the state constitution with new language protecting the agriculture industry.

Dustin Green, owner of 10 Acre Woods farm near Norman, feeds a few of his 400 or so chickens.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters decide on State Question 777 in November. Supporters call the ballot initiative right-to-farm, but opponents prefer right-to-harm. It’s a divisive, national issue that’s made its way to Oklahoma, pitting agriculture against environmentalists and animal rights activists.

Nasty Fight

Cattle are moved after auction at the Oklahoma City Stockyards.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association is still struggling to find support for a statewide marketing program.

Ranchers and other agriculture producers have been very active in their collective support of State Question 777, which would amend the state constitution to stringently limit lawmakers’ ability to regulate the industry.

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and audience members listen to a presentation on right-to-farm at the April 19 meeting in Tahlequah, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

City leaders in Edmond adopted a resolution urging citizens to reject State Question 777. Their counterparts in Choctaw appear likely to do the same, and the Norman City Council has booked a presentation from an organization fighting against the question, which would amend the state constitution to include the “right-to-farm” and prevent lawmakers from passing legislation impeding farming, ranching and agriculture.

Black vulture

This is the centennial year of the Migratory Bird Treaty. The compact between the United States and Canada assures many birds can travel undisturbed, but the international agreement protects one species that’s a menace to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.

Hated, But Protected

Frank Lawrence is sick of the black vultures he’s been dealing with his entire life as a rancher in southeast Oklahoma.

A wind farm near Woodwoard and Harper Counties in northwestern Oklahoma.
Becky McCray / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association might push Oklahoma legislators to extend some of the rights afforded oil and natural gas properties to alternative forms of energy like wind and solar, the Journal Record’Brian Brus reports:

University of Missouri graduate student Drew Fowler shaves the plumage off geese before taking samples to test fat and protein storage in the animal.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media


The big flocks of snow geese flying over the Midwest each spring and fall may make for a pretty picture, but the booming population of those fluffy, noisy, white birds is creating an environmental disaster in Canada. And it’s partially thanks to decisions made by Midwest farmers. 


“The birds have grown exponentially, almost now to a concern that they’re causing destruction to their tundra breeding grounds,” said Drew Fowler, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri.

Wheat farmer Fred Schmedt stands in one of his family's fields south of Altus, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Heavy rains delayed the 2016 wheat harvest in Oklahoma, but the yield could be better than recent years. Many farmers, however, are still making up losses from a drought that climatologists warn could be returning.

It’s a hot, dry and relatively windless day south of Altus in southwest Oklahoma. Eight to 11 inches of rain has fallen in the area over the last few weeks, and Fred Schmedt is on his cell phone trying to keep large trucks and tractor-trailers off his field.

Researchers designed a new drone that can start fires, potentially useful to keep people out of harms way during prescribed burns of rangeland.
Ariana Brocious / Harvest Public Media

Every spring farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jumpstart the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires, which may help protect people and the environment.

On a warm spring morning, a big burn crew dressed in yellow and green flame-resistant clothing gets ready to set 26 acres of tallgrass prairie on fire at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Neb.

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and audience members listen to a presentation on right-to-farm at the April 19 meeting in Tahlequah, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Budget cuts and the death of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission were the thrust of mid-April’s regular meeting of the OSRC. But the real fireworks were around State Question 777, which you’ve probably heard referred to as ‘right-to-farm. What you probably haven’t heard it called yet is “State Question 666.”

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Dustin Green, owner of 10 Acre Woods farm near Norman, feeds a few of his 400 or so chickens.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Will Oklahoma be more like Missouri or North Dakota?

In Missouri, Right-to-farm — a constitutional amendment that broadly protects the agricultural industry from future laws and regulations — was a contentious fight that pitted farmer against farmer and forced a recount of the statewide vote. But in North Dakota, Right-to-Farm passed by a 2-to-1 margin.

Less than a month before the Iowa Caucuses, Hillary Clinton makes a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

For almost a year, presidential candidates have been crisscrossing Iowa, wooing voters in a state that relies on agriculture for about one-third of its economy. But even here, most voters live in cities or suburbs and don’t have a first-hand connection to the farm.

That makes it difficult to get candidates talking about food system issues from school lunches, to crop supports, to water quality. Yet these all fall under the federal agriculture department. If candidates aren’t talking about them in Iowa, it’s possible they’ll be left out of the campaigns entirely.