Right To Farm Question Means Heated Debate For Many

Wednesday, May 25th 2016, 5:05 pm
By: Grant Hermes

During drop off day at the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, small time Norman farmer Dustin Green is ready to get his produce from farm to table.

“This is a logistical nightmare that works every time,” Green said as he packed large leaf lettuce into coolers before they were shipped to customers that afternoon. But Wednesday there's something else on his mind come November voters could drastically change the way he works.

“The people that this is going to hurt are going to be like the one-acre market gardener up to 1000 to 2000,” Green said.

He's talking about State Question 777 named Right to Farm. If passed it would amend the state's constitution saying any regulation on farming or ranching would have to pass the same tests we use for freedom of speech and religion; essentially outlawing any regulation at all.

The test is called the strict scrutiny standard. According to the Oklahoma City based Kirkpatrick Foundation, regulations put up against strict scrutiny are struck down 70 to 85 percent of the time.

“This takes away our protection for our soil, our land, our water, our air quality and it gives protection to big AG corporations who have no business deciding how we eat,” Green said with a sigh.

But supporters say they're just trying to stop government overreach from harming farmers before it's too late.

We want to protect our family farmers and ranchers and give them an opportunity to continue to provide food for their families and food for our families,” Amanda Rosholt from the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching foundation said. The foundation tells the stories of hundreds of farming families in the state she added.

The measure is being backed by some of the state's and the country's biggest farming companies and conservative lobbies all looking to make Oklahoma's farming industry an example for the rest of the nation.

“We don't view it that it's about an industry. It's about individual family farmers and their opportunity to access technology to continue to raise food safely and affordably to serve all Oklahomans,” Rosholt said.