State Question 777, more commonly known as the Right to Farm, is a proposition that will give extra freedom to farmers and ranchers. This freedom will allow farmers and ranchers to continue in their practices against laws that will infringe on the farmers’ “right to make use of agricultural technology, the right to make use of livestock procedures and the right to make use of ranching practices.”
There are two differing sides on this issue. The group in favor of the bill is composed mostly of farmers and ranchers who hope to continue doing their job without the ever-present threat of the government making new laws against their way of life. While this State Question will make it harder for lawmakers to create new laws concerning farming, it does not stop them. Instead, new laws must be justified by a state interest that needs to be solved through a law on agriculture and pushed through that way. This law will promote small and large farmers to continue what they have been doing without fear of sudden change. Oklahoma resident and small farmer Stacy Lee stated “we truly don’t need any more obstacles by legislation to perform our tasks.”
The other side of this issue is the people against the bill. This group is composed of animal rights activists, environmentalists and farmers who view the bill as help for large corporations and not smaller groups like themselves. According to these people, the State Question will allow large scale farming operations to go about completing actions that could potentially be harmful to animals and also Oklahoma water and plants. In a letter to the Editor of the Tulsa World, Barry Switzer, former head football coach of University of Oklahoma and large dog owner, stated that “if State Question 777 passes, it will make it easier for puppy mills to exist.” This is because puppy mill operators will be able to classify themselves as farmers and the puppies as livestock. Through this, they will be under protection of State Question 777 and have a stronger defense against the law. Like the puppy mill operators, cockfighting will also be in the same boat.
This State Question is too broad to be effective in what it is trying to accomplish. Instead of protecting and helping small farmers go about their jobs without the fear of losing their livelihood, it will instead help larger corporate farmers to go about doing things that are not safe.
According to the Kirkpatrick Foundation a private Oklahoma based philanthropic organization focused on animal welfare stated these two things that could happen with this State Question.. Large farming corporations could potentially use a drug called Ractopamine which causes neurological tremors or death in animals which in return creates leaner meat. It also has potential human health concerns. This drug is currently legal but if this state question passes, it would be harder for the law to outlaw this drug in the future. This state question would also make it harder to produce labor laws on people who work on farms which has the second highest rate of death in the country.
I don’t think it is ever a good idea to give any sort of group a shield against potential problems. Instead, there should be multiple laws and state questions that allow the common populace to vote on such issues.