Why Vote Yes For SQ 777
There are many reasons to vote in November, including one of the least understood, but most crucial pieces of legislation relating to Oklahoma’s agriculture: State Question 777. It is important to know that this proposed constitutional amendment was drafted by rural Oklahomans for the benefit of ALL Oklahomans and the land we call home. YOUR elected representatives, both Urban and Rural Senators and Representatives, overwhelming passed this proposal by a vote of 124-13. This is a non-partisan, non-political proposal where the sole interest is to protect Oklahoma’s agriculture. It is about making sure that Oklahoma encourages and protects all Oklahoma farmers and ranchers while enabling them to continue to have the ability to provide for their families in their chosen line of work and deliver quality, safe and affordable food to fellow Oklahomans and those around the world. S.Q. 777 is designed to benefit Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, whether full-time, part-time or even gardeners and hobbyists.
The actual amendment in full states, Section 38. “To protect agriculture as a vital sector of Oklahoma’s economy, which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security and is the foundation and stabilizing force of Oklahoma’s economy, 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. Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify any provision of common law or statutes relating to trespass, eminent domain, dominance of mineral interests, easements, rights of way or any other property rights. Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify or affect any statute or ordinance enacted by the Legislature or any political subdivision prior to December 31, 2014.”
Through the commercials and speeches, there is often much “political spin.” Casting politics aside, what does this proposal really do and not do?
1. does NOT open the door to foreign ownership of agricultural land. (Constitutionally prohibited)
2. does NOT de-regulate puppy mills. (Statutorily regulated)
3. does NOT legalize cock fighting. (Statutorily prohibited)
4. does NOT change a single law currently in effect.
5. does NOT pollute our water or change a single water law.
6. does NOT prohibit additional laws to protect our water.
7. does NOT give agriculture any new freedoms.
8. does NOT affect county or municipal laws in any way. (legislative specific language)
9. does NOT allow for any anti-agriculture regulation without a compelling state interest, similar to the constitutional protections that rodeo, hunting and fishing currently have in Oklahoma.
1. does continue to provide for freedom of food choice.
2. does still provide for Oklahomans to make sure our food is safe and our water is protected; farmers and ranchers are the original Stewards of the Land.
3. does help to protect Oklahoma jobs, which is vital to our economy.
4. does protect Oklahoma farmers and ranchers from future adverse legislation from out of state special interest groups that do not care about Oklahomans or their values.
5. does help to continue to encourage future generations of agriculturists to become involved in agriculture by protecting Oklahoma rural values.
6. does restrict harmful, unscientific legislation that does not promote a compelling state interest from being passed by either political party.
Everything in this state question is intended to be in the best interest for all Oklahomans. However, this State Question is garnering a great amount of adverse, political publicity from several special interest groups. Oklahomans must remember, this is about Oklahoma, our food source and our farmers and ranchers, not political out-of-state special interest groups.
Vote YES, to support your local farmers, ranchers and all Oklahomans who enjoy a healthy meal.
Wade Christensen is a fourth generation farmer and rancher from Thomas, Oklahoma and managing Director of Christensen Law in Oklahoma City. He has served as Chairman of the National Governors Spouses Leadership Committee. While serving as Chairman, his National platform was entitled “America’s Farms: Feeding and Strengthening Communities.” Christensen highlighted the important role farming and ranching play in providing a safe and healthy food source in the U.S and throughout the world. He also highlighted the importance of the agricultural sector to the U.S. economy, national security and public health. Oklahoman and American culture celebrates farming and ranching as an important part of our history, but sometimes we don’t remember how important it is to our economy and our way of life today. Whether it is childhood obesity or global hunger, farmers and ranchers are helping to address some of the great issues of our times.