Presidential candidates aren’t the only choices on the ballot this November
During the 2015 Legislative session, the Oklahoma legislature passed legislation which created Oklahoma State Question 777 (SQ777), which will be on the ballot on November 8, 2016. If passed, it will amend the Oklahoma State Constitution with the following language:
This measure adds a new section of law to the State Constitution. It adds Section 38 to Article 2. It protects the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices. It prohibits the Legislature from passing laws that would take away the right to employ agricultural technology and livestock production without a compelling state interest.
While this seems like innocuous language, prepared for the betterment of farming in the state of Oklahoma, it is exactly the opposite. It is vague, far reaching and has great potential to harmfully impact family farms, water resources, wildlife and habitat, and human health.
The Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma (CCO) advocates for reasonable, rational environmental policies. It is an Oklahoma organization concerned with protecting Oklahoma.
CCO appreciates the contributions of agriculture to our state; importantly, CCO is not anti-agriculture. Rather, CCO is deeply concerned with the potential consequences of this particular state question. Accordingly, CCO seeks to educate Oklahoma voters about SQ777 so that voters may make an educated decision on Election Day.
Why is it important to know the impact of SQ777 on our state?
- SQ777 permanently ties the hands of the Oklahoma legislature of the right to protect Oklahoma citizens in the event agricultural practices cause harm to people or property
- SQ777 forces federal oversight. Oklahoma’s agricultural sector must still comply with federal law. Currently, Oklahoma agencies enforce and administer those federal laws. By hamstringing Oklahoma’s agencies, SQ777 practically ensures federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will resume enforcement of applicable federal statutes.
- Oklahoma agriculture already has a “Right to Farm” pursuant to 50 Okla. Stat. §§ 1-1.1, but they must still answer to the state legislature
- SQ777 opens the door for any large farm or ranch to draw unlimited amounts of water in the name of advancing agriculture technology
- SQ777 eliminates the possibility of local solutions to local problems. Communities will be prohibited from addressing potential problems created by agriculture because SQ777 denies those communities the right to make decisions and hold individuals accountable for impacts to quality of life, water quality, and water quantity
- SQ777 will hurt family farms. Large, corporate farms will have a competitive advantage as they will be able to exploit this constitutional amendment in the name of agricultural technology
- There is no definition for farming or ranching within the text of the ballot language. Farming could be anything from corn and wheat production to the sale of Oklahoma’s water
In light of the numerous issues with the language of SQ777, CCO urges Oklahoma citizens to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment.
Voting against SQ777 does not mean you are against agriculture
Rather, it is an indication that you value our state’s water resources and our state’s wildlife and natural resources and you demand more specific language to avoid the long-lasting repercussions likely to result from the current language.
Know before you vote:
- Attend a local event or town hall
- View and download resources including documents, videos and more
- Educate your friends, family and peers on the effects of SQ777
- Sign up for our e-newsletter for monthly updates
- Register to vote by October 14, 2016
- Most importantly: Vote NO on SQ777 on November 8, 2016
Receive monthly updates on our work in conservation, plus a full package of #SQ777 downloads from the CCO and our partners by signing up for our mailing list by clicking here.
Make an informed decision before you vote by visiting the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s resource center, which includes documents detailing both sides of SQ777, fact sheets and more.
For the latest news on SQ777, check out blog posts, events and more from Oklahomans for Food, Farm and Family on their website.
The Oklahoma Farm & Food Alliance is a nonprofit entity dedicated to strengthening the local food industry and enhancing access to healthy, locally produced food in Oklahoma. Learn more on their website.
Learn the facts about how State Question 777 affects our natural resources, family farms and wildlife at VoteNoOn777.com.
For more updates on State Question 777 and how you can make an impact on Oklahoma’s natural resources, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.