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right-to-farm

Sarah Vap and her parents, Dave and Barbara Jacques on their farm and ranch in Osage County. The Jacques family strongly supports a 'yes' vote on State Question 777.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday soundly rejected State Question 777, a ballot measure that would have made farming and ranching a state constitutional right. The final tally was roughly 60 percent against and 40 percent in favor of the amendment — a difference of more than 290,000 votes.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson at the 'No on 777' watch party at Aloft Hotel in Oklahoma City.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday rejected State Question 777 — known by supporters as the right-to-farm amendment. The final vote was 60-40 against the measure, which would’ve elevated farming and ranching to a constitutional right.

Sarah Vap and her parents, Dave and Barbara Jacques on their farm and ranch in Osage County. The Jacques family strongly supports a 'yes' vote on State Question 777.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Oklahoma voters go to the polls next week, they’ll decide on State Question 777, known by supporters as the right-to-farm amendment. The measure would make farming and ranching a constitutional right and make it harder for the Legislature to enact laws that further regulate the agriculture industry.

The ballot question seems simple on the surface: Do you support the right to farm? The answer for many Oklahomans, however, is more complex. Environmental and legal considerations complicate the issue, and it has become very culturally and politically polarizing.

A combine crew from South Dakota harvests wheat near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Support for State Question 777, which would make farming and ranching a constitutional right in Oklahoma, has slipped in recent weeks, according to a SoonerPoll survey commissioned by The Oklahoman.

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.

Oklahoma City Council member Pete White, left, and council attorney Kenneth Jordan in a council meeting at City Hall.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The Oklahoma City Council passed a resolution Tuesday formally opposing State Question 777, which is commonly known as the “right-to-farm” amendment. The proposal would add a new section to state law guaranteeing farmers and ranchers can operate without interference unless the state has a compelling reason to get involved.

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.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Gov. Mary Fallin signed election proclamations Monday for five state questions that will now be on November’s general election ballot.

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.

StateImpact’s Logan Layden visited with OETA’s Lis Exon for the August 5 edition of Oklahoma News Report, after moderating a panel discussion on State Question 777 for the Oklahoma Policy Institute earlier in the week.

The discussion centered on the scare tactics being used by both sides of the right-to-farm issue: whether national animal rights groups are trying to force all Oklahomans to become vegans, or if Big Ag wants a license to pollute at will.

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.”

Save the Illinois River President Denise Deason-Toyne at No Head Hollow public access point on the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma could become a right-to-farm state if voters approve State Question 777 this November. But opponents are gearing up for a legal fight to keep the issue off the ballot.

In January 2015, drought stricken Waurika Lake was dangerously low.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

There’s a $1 billion hole in the state budget that has consequences for Oklahoma’s environment and natural resources. A controversial state question could pit farmer against farmer. The ground beneath Oklahoma is shaking — figuratively and literally in 2016 — and StateImpact is on it.

Bethany Hardzinski / KGOU

On Tuesday, the first organized resistance to Oklahoma’s “right-to-farm” movement gathered at the state Capitol to voice their opposition to State Question 777, which will put the issue before a vote of the people in November 2016.

Some background: right-to-farm is the idea there’s a guaranteed, unalienable right for farmers and ranchers to earn a living free from government intervention.

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

The right-to-farm bill got through the legislative process last week. That means voters will have a chance to decide next year whether to give farmers and ranchers broad protections against future state laws that might interfere with their operations.

But opponents say right-to-farm is a license that allows big ag to harm animals and the environment. But where do actual Oklahoma farmers and ranchers stand on the issue?

If passed by the Oklahoma legislature, the right-to-farm amendment to the state constitution wouldn’t appear on the ballot until November 2016. But the Humane Society of the United States is trying to kill the controversial issue in its crib.

'Right To Farm' Overview

Mar 23, 2015

State Impact reporter Logan Layden discusses controversial Right-to-Farm legislation. A bill making its way through the legislature calls for a constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from making certain regulations concerning farming and ranching practices. The U.S. Humane Society argues the regulations are needed to protect animals and the environment.

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