ALEC’S INFLUENCE ON THE RIGHT TO FARM – STATE QUESTION 777

Right-to-farm laws already exist in all states in America. In spite of this, ALEC developed model legislation around the mid 1990’s to expand these laws to cover larger farms to push the corporate farming agenda. In the case of this particular model bill the aim was to undermine existing local farm laws to make it more difficult to regulate pollution, noise, and animal welfare.

At some point after 1996 the model bill was changed into an amendment to the state constitution itself. This is the equivalent of State Question (SQ) 777 which is being voted on in the Oklahoma November ballot.

The intention with all ALEC proposals is that the model be taken back to the state where legislators develop it into a proposal specific to the state. That is the reason nearly identical language is seen in many of these proposals.

We can see this very clearly by looking at the history of similar proposals in other states that have passed right-to-farm amendments. In 2012, The North Dakota Farm Bureau was instrumental in having a proposal drawn up with near identical language to SQ 777. The North Dakota Feeding Families Committee was in charge of the petition to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot before the election that year. Despite opposition from the North Dakota Farmers Union, the amendment was passed with a vote of just over 66 percent.

In 2014, a Missouri State Representative sponsored an amendment with near exact wording to SQ 777 which was placed on the primary ballot the same year. The state Farm Bureau supported the amendment and the Farmer’s Union opposed it. The yes vote won by just over 50 percent. The amendment has been challenged but the Missouri Supreme Court upheld it in 2015 with a majority opinion holding “the ballot title was sufficient and fair, there was no election irregularity, and the results of the election adopting this amendment are valid.”

In 2015, an Oklahoma State Representative sponsored a resolution to have SQ 777 put on this year’s November ballot. A majority of the House and Senate supported the resolution. An identical measure is to be introduced into Nebraska. The feeling in the Legislature is that there will not be a lot of opposition to such an amendment

The similarity in language of all of these proposals is objectionable when we consider what is at stake here. This is nothing more than a carefully orchestrated plan to let corporate agriculture run rampant so it can fill its coffers.

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