A Right Worth Protecting in Oklahoma

A RIGHT WORTH PROTECTING IN OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Farming Rights   A new wave has been sweeping the nation. Well, not so much a wave as a trickling. Many call it slow progress, animal rights groups refer to it as a detriment. Its real name is Right to Farm, and Oklahoma may be the next state to see its effects. HJR 1012, the Right to Farm resolution, recently passed overwhelmingly in Oklahoma’s Senate. This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed it 85-7. It will now be placed on the 2016 ballot for voters to decide its fate. Farming Rights Amendments are relatively fresh in the agricultural legislative landscape. North Dakota would be the first state to enact such an amendment in 2012.  Known as Measure 3, it was added to the ballot that summer and received massive support, passing by a 2/3 majority. The measure protected an industry that needed it in an area where animal rights activists had attacked many times before. Seeing how the amendment played out in North Dakota and how it successfully allowed for agriculture to remain strong, Missouri became the next state to seek out an amendment. This led to a vicious battle in the state, with Amendment 1 ultimately prevailing. Missouri has officially joined North Dakota in securing protection for its most vital industry. A common question many ask is, “What’s the difference between Right to Farm Amendments and Right to Farm laws? We already have Right to Farm laws. Why do we need an Amendment?” There is a substantial difference. All 50 states have Right to Farm laws, which protect farmers and ranchers against nuisance lawsuits that come about when individuals move into a rural area where normal farming operations exist and find that those operations in some way cause conflict in their lives. For instance, one could move to an area where a hog farm operates, and then find that the smell is unsatisfactory. Before Right to Farm laws, the neighbor could sue the farm in order to shut down its operations. Now, these laws protect against that action because these operations (if following all legal requirements) are for the greater good. Right to Farm Amendments are a Constitutional protection that guarantees all citizens the right to forever conduct legal farming and ranching practices, some of which have been endangered by out-of-state special interest groups who want to restrict or even end them. The wars animal rights groups have waged against agriculture across the United States have made it abundantly clear that current laws in a majority of states are not sufficient to protect our nation’s producers from unwarranted attacks against their methods of growing or raising food for our burgeoning population. HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) is the primary culprit in most of these instances. They tend to demonize farmers and ranchers as people who care little about the environment, the animals they raise, or the health and well-being of the consumers of their products. That simply isn’t true. None of these claims are based in reality; HSUS has realized that appealing to emotions has not been a particularly fruitful strategy for them so they’ve moved on to using scare tactics on those who are uneducated about rural life. Their viewpoints tend to skew far more liberal, hence the reason they attempt to get so much legislation passed in heavily liberal areas such as California. Since California is a major market for agriculture, both in production and in importing from other states, it is seen as huge target. Their harmful egg laws (Proposition 2 and AB 1437), which regulate unnecessary cage standards on egg-laying hens, have done considerable damage already in the four months since implementation. Prices for eggs in California are well over double the cost per dozen, and any other state that does business there has seen its prices soar as well. This is an essential part of a multi-level plan for the animal rights agenda – make it costly for middle and lower class families to consume animal products, thus make the vegan lifestyle seem more appealing. California’s controversial egg laws are but one example of the influence animal rights groups can wield when they reach the right amount of the public and the legislators that represent them. This has become obvious to those in many rural states, where agriculture powers the economy. Enter Oklahoma. The state has been witness to a number of attacks from HSUS, especially in recent years. They’ve gone after multiple zoos in a blatant attempt to bankrupt them using undercover footage conveniently edited to suggest abuse of tigers, and were successful in one such instance. Last year, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent out a consumer alert and began investigating HSUS for potential deception in raising funds from Oklahomans for displaced animals following devastating tornado strikes in 2013. At the time, HSUS implied in advertisements that the money would go directly to local animal shelters, but a review done by Pruitt’s office found that little-to-no funds actually went to these shelters. They accused HSUS of "...using misleading or untruthful solicitations to take advantage of the generosity of Oklahomans..." This is no secret, at least to those familiar with their organization. They raise money under certain pretenses, but it all just gets funneled to their lobbying wing and political activities. In his Civil Investigative Demand, Pruitt sought to obtain documents from HSUS related directly to the group’s fundraising campaign in Oklahoma in the time following the natural disaster. In a surprising move, HSUS chose to sue Attorney General Pruitt in order to avoid having to give over their documents. It paid off in their favor, as a judge ruled that the group would be allowed to withhold 21 documents from Pruitt, while only having to turn over all or part of 3 documents. This lawsuit can only come off as a blatant move to avoid bad publicity, yet it would seem that in doing so they may have actually made things worse for them in the state. Scott Pruitt stood up for the citizens of Oklahoma and has a history of supporting one of its top industries in agriculture. The news exposure of the suit, which cost taxpayer money, brought to light for many that HSUS has a distrust for the agriculture industry and opposes anyone who supports it. With that in mind, Oklahoma lawmakers are looking at the precedent set by North Dakota and Missouri and have decided that this course of action is necessary in order to protect agriculture from a Washington D.C.-based organization with its destruction in mind. OK Representative Scott Biggs introduced this bill that would, if passed by the voters, amend the state Constitution the way in which Missouri did, adding “The legislature shall pass no law that abridges the right of citizens and lawful residents to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.” We commend the Oklahoma legislature for this bill and for their efforts in protecting the people of Oklahoma from outside attacks. This bill allows Oklahoma citizens to reinforce their message to animal rights groups such as HSUS that any attempt to dismantle their way of life will face strong opposition. If Oklahoma passes the Amendment, they could be the next state on the leading end in support of agriculture, and if population numbers continue to grow rapidly as they have been, agriculture will need all the support possible in order to supply it.  

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