A packaging change could stop the sale of Blue & Gold Sausage in the Muskogee School District.
Blue & Gold Sausage is a major fundraising tool for schools all over Oklahoma, but the company's planned show of support for 'The Right to Farm Bill’ could put students in the middle of a political battle.
“Blue & Gold Sausage is so popular,” Muskogee Director of Education Melony Carey said.
Blue & Gold Sausage is made only for fundraising efforts and can’t be found in stores, so selling the well-loved sausage, bacon and chicken products is a favorite fundraiser for many organizations, but especially for school groups like FAA.
“We get to scratch out a living in a way that's beneficial to a lot of folks, we think,” Blue & Gold Sausage President Brett Ramsey said.
Ramsey said, statewide, school groups raise about $4 million for their projects by selling Blue & Gold products each year.
For Muskogee's FFA, it brings in thousands of dollars each year.
“That money goes for such wonderful student activities,” Carey said.
But, Muskogee’s school district worries politics could get in the way of that.
Ramsey said his company backs State Question 777, also known as The Right To Farm Bill. Supporters of the measure say it will protect farmers and ranchers from over-regulation. Those against it say regulation is a good thing because it protects consumers.
“It's an easy thing to get behind an initiative that's purpose, from my perspective, is to protect the animal-agriculture industry in the state of Oklahoma,” Ramsey said. “I think we have the right to support those types of things that affect our industry.”
The company’s support of the measure isn’t the problem; it’s an idea Blue & Gold had to show its support.
Blue & Gold isn't in production now, but in the spring it ran some test packaging labels that dedicated a small corner spot for State Question 777’s logo.
“It's certainly not mistakable in terms of yes or no,” Ramsey said.
Carey said that would essentially turn student-sellers into campaigners in support of the measure. She said students can't sell any product swaying voters.
“While we advocate for people to vote, we don't consider it proper to tell people to vote yes or no on state questions or in any elections,” Carey said. “It's up to Blue & Gold what they do, but that would be a tremendous loss to us.”
Blue & Gold Sausage is a Jones, Oklahoma family business founded by Ramsey father, Don, more than 50 years ago. Its sole purpose is helping schools fund-raise
“Dad was a school [ag] teacher that didn't have all the funds he needed to let his program do the things they needed to do. That was back in the 60s, and today is exactly the same,” Ramsey said. “We're not at all going to put their districts in a bad situation by presenting a piece of propaganda that they're not aware of.”
Ramsey said the solution is simple - he won’t put any sticker of support on Blue & Gold packaging if it’s going to stop districts from using his products to raise money for worthwhile school projects.
“I think that's a completely fair concern for them,” Ramsey said. “If a school district doesn't want to be in that situation, we're not going to put them in that situation.”
Ramsey said production won’t start back up until around Labor Day. He said the company has considered running two labels and letting organizations opt in or out of the packaging that supports State Question 777.