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Agricultural News

Right to Farm Clears Oklahoma Senate 39 to 6- Closing In on Statewide Vote in November 2016

Wed, 22 Apr 2015 05:29:04 CDT

Right to Farm Clears Oklahoma Senate 39 to 6- Closing In on Statewide Vote in November 2016 The Oklahoma Senate has approved legislation calling for a statewide vote on whether the right to farm and ranch in Oklahoma shall be "forever guaranteed." HJR 1012 was debated on the Senate floor on Tuesday for an hour, before the lawmakers passed the resolution by a 39 to 6 vote. The bill now returns to the House, where lead author of Right to Farm State Representative Scott Biggs will have to decide if he will accept the amendments to the proposal and simply have the House vote on the bill as amended or if he will request a Conference with the Senate to reconcile the differences.

HJR 1012 is similar to regulations already in place in North Dakota and Missouri. It was motivated in part by a law that went into effect earlier this year in California that requires eggs sold in that state to come only from chickens housed in cages that meet certain size requirements.

Opponents say they're concerned about unintended consequences passage could have on various agricultural operations.

Three of the lead farm groups in the state celebrated the Senate vote on Tuesday. Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan of Altus says that his group is excited about the Senate passage and congratulated Senator Jason Smalley and Representative Biggs for sheparding the bill through the Oklahoma House and now Senate. Buchanan adds that "this bill has broad support support across the state. This gives more protection for Oklahoma agriculture going forward and that's what this bill is about as that we can function and be a part of the Oklahoma economy."

The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association released a statement via email to the Oklahoma Farm Report in reaction to the passage of HJR 1012. ""With Senate passage of HJR1012-Right to Farm, Oklahoma is one step closer to continuing our strong agricultural heritage. Safe and wholesome food production is and should be a top priority for the state of Oklahoma. OCA is grateful to Senator Smalley for carrying the bill and to the Senate for passing the bill today."

Also providing comments to the Oklahoma Farm Report was Terry Detrick, President of the American Farmers & ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union. Detrick says of Right to Farm "AFR has been on board from the beginning with the concept of 'Right to Farm'. AFR is happy with the large majority vote in the Senate today. We would have been very disappointed if it had been a really narrow, divisive vote. It indicates a futuristic attitude on behalf of our legislature in cooperation with production agriculture and others as we determine to put measures in place that give assurance to consumers we 'can and will' continue to provide a safe, affordable and abundant food supply. No one cares for our land and our animals more than those who live it, love it, care for it, feed our own and a hungry world while leaving it better for future generations of farm and ranch families!"

Just ahead of the vote, the Oklahoma Democratic Party announced their opposition to Right to Farm legislation- and borrowed a phrase that the Humane Society of the US is using in TV ads attacking the proposal- calling the measure a "Right to Harm" bill.

The Chairman of the Democratic Party, Marshall Collins states "The proposal is so vague that not only is it confusing to legislators and voters, but it could also lead to a legal challenge in the court system. Oklahoma is considered a 'rural' or 'ag-friendly' state, and I can confidently say that the majority of Oklahomans support our local, family farms; however, what people don't understand about this bill is that it is based off of model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

"This legislation is not protecting the 'right to farm' of local farmers and ranchers but is instead promoting the 'right to harm' our communities, our environment, and the rights of our citizens."

Read the full statement by Collins by clicking here.

Shortly after the Senate vote that approved Right to Farm, Farm Director Ron Hays talked with John Collison, Vice President of Public Policy for Oklahoma Farm Bureau. His full comments can be heard by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.


Ron Hays talks with John Collison of Ok Farm Bureau about Senate Passage of Right to Farm
right-click to download mp3


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