Oklahoma Farm Bureau supports State Question 777, commonly called the Right to Farm Bill, and the organization is doing all it can to encourage voters to do the same when they mark their ballots Nov. 8.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau director of field operations for public policy Mark Yates gave members of Stillwater’s Frontier Rotary Club an overview Thursday, outlining why the organization supports adopting an amendment to the state constitution that would limit the state’s ability to regulate farms and ranches.

Yates discounted concerns he says have been raised by opponents of the bill, who charge that the amendment benefits corporate agriculture more than small farmers, would decrease water quality and would deregulate agriculture.

Model language for the Right to Farm Bill was written by the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is an organization with members from industry that writes free-market oriented legislation and sponsors meetings with elected officials.

Although ALEC-written legislation is generally characterized as a way for corporations to influence state laws, Yates said Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s support for the measure comes from its membership, which he characterized as primarily being family farms.

He called the State Question 777 a proactive attempt to prevent actions like other states have seen. Guaranteeing agricultural producers can maintain currently accepted practices helps keep food prices lower, Yates said.

He cited a move by the California legislature to increase the amount of space required for chickens used in commercial egg production as an example of a law that had unintended consequences, reducing production and driving up costs.

It led to much higher prices for eggs produced in California, he said.

Frontier Rotary will be looking at the other side of Right to Farm August 25 when former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson talks about why he doesn’t support the constitutional amendment.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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