Oklahoma Farm Bureau Condemns Lawsuit Against Right to Farm Amendment

OKLAHOMA FARM BUREAU CONDEMNS LAWSUIT AGAINST RIGHT TO FARM AMENDMENT

In a bold move yesterday, an environmental advocacy group has challenged the Oklahoma Right to Farm Amendment (State Question 777) – set to be voted on in November – with a lawsuit and calling it “unconstitutionally vague.” Save The Illinois River (STIR), along with Oklahoma Representative Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) and other parties, have filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court against the Oklahoma State Election Board and Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Their basis for this legal challenge is that they claim "State Question 777 would require Oklahoma courts to strike down any legislation that affects farming, ranching, and the use of livestock production practices, ranching practices, and agricultural technology, absent a 'compelling state interest.'" On State Question 777’s language, however, it specifically states that the Oklahoma legislature would be prohibited from passing laws, not striking down any existing laws. Several of the individuals involved in the suit claim that industrial farms would have the right to “expand and pollute Oklahoma waters” and that these so-called “industrialized factory farms” would have “near impunity within the state.” This has been an argument that has been rolled out by Right to Farm Amendment opponents in other instances, the most recent example before this coming from Missouri. There, groups such as Humane Society of the United States and its locally-organized opposition group ‘Missouri’s Food for America’ argued that very same point in an attempt to defeat Amendment 1, to no avail. Oklahoma, a heavy agriculture state, places a great deal of importance on ensuring that state legislators are the ones tasked with legislating farming and ranching, not out-of-state special interest groups. Via OK Ag Policy, here is Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan's statement which defends Attorney General Pruitt and condemns this environmental group for its accusations:

"Right to Farm was created and passed by Oklahomans to protect Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. The amendment has nothing to do with water interests in Oklahoma; its sole purpose is to protect farming and ranching. Water and its quality are of utmost importance to our state’s farmers and ranchers, as their livelihoods depend on it. Why would we support any measure that would jeopardize our state’s water? The group’s suggestions that State Question 777 will impede efforts to protect Oklahoma’s water quality are completely false. In fact, current state statutes and administrative rules, including those that ensure water quality throughout our state, will remain firmly intact after the passage of SQ777. These radical environmentalist groups have been defeated at the state Capitol and know they will be defeated at the ballot box. Thus, they have resorted to litigation to attempt to control the food choices of Oklahomans. Attorney General Scott Pruitt recognizes the importance of agriculture as the second largest economic driver in our state. We’re confident he will continue to protect the citizens of Oklahoma and their choices as consumers.”

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