Right to Farm or Right to Harm?

Right to Farm or Right to Harm?

In this Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 photo, cattle surrounded by dirt and dead grass can be seen following a tractor to be feed with hay on David Bailey’s farm, in Dawson, Ala.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Right to Farm and Ranch Amendment, or State Question 777, is another issue you will see on your ballot on Nov. 8.

This bill will prevent the over-regulation on Oklahoma farmers and ranchers without compelling state interest and will maintain that no restrictions be made on any agricultural method. The bill reads:

“The rights of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. The Legislature shall pass no law which abridges the right of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.”

The Right to Farm amendments passed in North Dakota in 2012 and in Missouri in 2014.

Mareta James works in the Agricultural Education Department at Missouri State University and said she believes strongly in the Right to Farm.

“I was in support of the Right to Farm Act in Missouri in 2014,” James said. “To me it’s simple: The Right to Farm Act protects our farmers, primarily from anti-farming interest groups.”

The question has caused some controversy and has sparked worry from environmentalists as well as animal rights activists. The Humane Society of the United States called the Right to Farm Act the “Right to Harm” in an advertisement opposing SQ 777.

There are local groups that oppose the bill as well, including the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, Oklahoma Coalition of Animals, The Humane Society of Tulsa, Oklahoma Sierra Club and the Oklahoma Coalition of Animal Rescuers.

Opponents of the piece of legislation claim that it will harm not only the environment and animal welfare, but family farmers and food safety as well.

“A majority of farmers want the best for their animals and the best for their land,” James said.

However, opponents’ concerns extend past animal welfare and into water supply. The worry is that the State Question would make it harder to protect drinking water from pollution by animal waste disposal, which is something the state has had to deal with in the past due to pollution runoff from Arkansas.

But despite these concerns, proponents believe that we owe the Right to Farm to our farmers.

“They truly are our unsung heroes,” James said. “They feed, clothe and fuel the world, so we should be advocating for them.”

Whatever your view on this controversial state question is, go have your voice heard on Nov. 8 by voting.

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