Lawton Meeting to be Held to Discuss State Question 777
One of the lessor known propositions on this November's ballot in October is State Question 777, an initiative that moves to alter the state Constitution and expand the right of corporate farming with in the state, possibly limiting the ability of local government's to regulate corporate agriculture. Opponents of the initiative are conducting a meeting in Lawton to educate voters on the proposal
The kick-off meeting, hosted by the Oklahoma Stewardship Council, is set for 7:00 p.m., on Monday, September 19 at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 209 SE Interstate Drive. Attendees will be given information and resources to engage in specific efforts in their local community to defeat SQ 777.
Opponents of the measure are asking for Oklahomans to learn more about the initiative, which they say would allow foreign-owned agricultural operations pretty much free run in a number of categories, including water and air pollution. The proposal would add section 38 to the Oklahoma State constitution, which would guarentee rights to engage in farming and ranching, including the right to make use of agricultural technology, the right to make use of livestock procedures, and the right to make use of ranching practices.
The measure, and the protections identified in it, do not apply to and do not impact state laws related to Trespass, Eminent domain, Dominance of mineral Interests, Easements, Right of way or other property rights, and any state statutes and political subdivision ordinances enacted before December 31, 2014.
According to Ballotpedia, the proposed amendment, designed after similar statutes in North Dakota and Missiori, is intended 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 right so citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state." It further mandates that 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."
Oklahoma Stewardship Council's biggest argument against the proposal is that the rights it seems to be adding to the constitution are not clearly defined by the ballot proposition. OSC is steadfastly against what appears to be a "blank-check" that has been placed on the ballot, and proponents are asking Oklahomans to sign it. OSC fears that, if approved, ballot initiative 777's language is so "expansive" would "tie the hands" of local, county and state governments, including their ability to protect surface and groundwater from pollution.