Agriculture today is probably one of the most misinterpreted industries in America, and given the debate on State Question 777, even more so in Oklahoma.
The amendment language, up for a public vote on Novembers ballot, characterizes agriculture as the stabilizing force of Oklahomas economy.
In fact, it represents about 1.1 percent of the states GDP and only reaches that level when combined with forestry, fishing, hunting and other services. Approximately 90 percent of that 1.1 percent is produced by 1.6 percent of the farms. The state records a total of 80,000 farms.
The state already has a right to farm law on the books, one of the first states to do so. That law was amended in 1992 specifically to allow industrial farming operations. Over the past decade, the number of agriculture jobs in Oklahoma has shrunk by nearly 70 percent. That is more than double the loss of agriculture jobs during the Dust Bowl decade. Foreign corporations now own more than 325,000 acres of Oklahoma agricultural land.
SQ 777 proponents claim the amendment is needed to protect Oklahoma farmers and ranchers from radical animal rights and environmental groups. History tells us the threat is of a different nature.
Currently, the state constitution does not single out a specific industry, profession, vocation or trade and forbid the Legislature from passing laws that restrict what that industry does and the way they do it. SQ 777 would be the only amendment that removes the Legislatures right to act.
As an example of how bad this question is, the Legislature is already attempting to patch it with proposed legislation to declare water a compelling state interest.
Additionally, SQ 777 itself would bar any law passed after Dec. 31, 2014. Although the state Legislature might have a legitimate interest in public safety, public health or water, a law that advances a state interest interferes with constitutional rights will, therefore, be rejected as unconstitutional.
This amendment would give the highest level of personal freedom and the right to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices to global corporations like Tyson and Seaboard.
This measure leads to an abuse of American rights and a corresponding lack of accountability and stewardship to animals and our environment. Corporate agriculture would be a protected class.
Cynthia L. Archiniaco Oklahoma City
It seems like every other week, there is news of another turnpike being proposed for Oklahoma. Its kind of crazy when you think about it; Oklahoma already ranks second highest in the nation for number of and miles of turnpikes.
When I discovered the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) had decided what was best for us over in eastern Oklahoma County without consulting us first, I started paying attention. I live in Newalla, and we are under threat of a 21-mile turnpike loop through our community. It is becoming obvious that OTA is desperate; it is about to tank and go under if it doesnt start another land and home grab from hardworking Oklahomans.
So OTA is doing a shotgun blast with proposed turnpikes in hopes that one sticks. The folks in eastern Oklahoma County and others affected are telling OTA to take a hike. No more turnpikes, OTA. You have been dishonest in your dealings with Oklahomans for decades.
You said toll roads would become free roads when paid for, but Oklahomans will always pay.
Paul Crouch Newalla