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Claremore Daily Progress 

SQ 777 foes change tactics after challenge dismissed
By D.E. SMOOT
Muskogee Phoenix

Plaintiffs whose pre-election challenge to
the constitutionality of the so-called Right to
Farm Amendment was dismissed as untimely
by the Oklahoma Supreme Court shifted gears
to focus on community outreach and educating the public about its impact if passed.
State Question 777 would carve out constitutional protections for “citizens and lawful
residents of Oklahoma” engaged in farming
and ranching activities. It would prohibit lawmakers from passing any laws that might
infringe upon the rights of that limited class
“to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.”
Save the Illinois River President Denise
Deason-Toyne said educating the public “is
the key” to prevent passage of a legislative
referendum she and other critics contend
would cripple efforts to protect and preserve
the state’s natural resources. STIR, a grassroots coalition of clean-water advocates was
the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking the
removal of SQ 777 from the general election
ballot in November.
The justices affirmed an Oklahoma County
District Court Judge Patricia G. Parrish’s dismissal of STIR’s legal challenge, but for a different reason. Parrish found the measure constitutional on its face, a ruling rejected by the
high court in favor of an argument based upon
a separation of powers.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court ... basically stated it will not inject itself into the legislative process by deciding the validity of
legislation before it is enacted,” DeasonToyne said. “This ... is not a decision on the
merits of our claims — it just is basically stating that our challenge shouldn’t be heard
unless and until SQ 777 becomes law.”
STIR’s challenge, which was joined by a
state lawmaker, a family farmer and a property owner who co-founded the Tahlequahbased coalition, laid out four arguments upon
which they believe SQ 777 is unconstitutional. They said the legislative referendum would
unconstitutionally bind, or hamstring, future
Legislatures, addresses more than one subject,
violates separation of powers, and is unconstitutionally vague.
Supreme Court justices made it clear the
issues raised in STIR’s challenge “remain
unadjudicated and intact.” The opinion left the
door open for additional challenges that might
be “brought under the federal or state constitutions by a proper party if” voters approve
the controversial measure.
SQ 777 proponents, which include corporate agricultural interests, contend the constitutional protections sought are needed to protect the interests of farmers and ranchers
believed to be under attack by animal rights
and environmental activists. They also have
put forth an argument that passage would
ensure an affordable food supply.
Opponents argue the measure would allow
corporate interests to engage unimpeded in

activities and employ technology that would
harm the environment and consumers.
Requiring lawmakers to prove future laws
dealing with agricultural activities are narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest, critics say would make it nearly impossible to regulate the agricultural industry and its
practices.
Deason-Toyne pointed out the ironies of
the court’s decision to allow SQ 777 to remain
on the general election ballot.
While the ruling gives voters a voice in the
decision to approve or reject the measure, she
said its passage ultimately would rob them of
that voice.
“If SQ 777 becomes law, people will lose
that voice when it comes to regulating farming
(and) ranching agricultural practices,”
Deason-Toyne said. “It will be entirely up to
the courts to decide whether there is a compelling state interest which would justify state
regulations — we will lose our voice.”
SQ 777 is scheduled to be presented Nov.
8 to voters along with several other ballot
measures and candidates competing for federal, state and local offices.and is unconstitutionally vague.
Supreme Court justices made it clear the
issues raised in STIR’s challenge “remain
unadjudicated and intact.” The opinion left the
door open for additional challenges that might
be “brought under the federal or state constitutions by a proper party if” voters approve
the controversial measure.
SQ 777 proponents, which include corpo-

Property of OPS News Tracker and members of the Oklahoma Press Association.

rate agricultural interests, contend the constitutional protections sought are needed to protect the interests of farmers and ranchers
believed to be under attack by animal rights
and environmental activists.
They also have put forth an argument that
passage would ensure an affordable food supply.
Opponents argue the measure would allow
corporate interests to engage unimpeded in
activities and employ technology that would
harm the environment and consumers.
Requiring lawmakers to prove future laws
dealing with agricultural activities are narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest, critics say would make it nearly impossible to regulate the agricultural industry and its
practices.
Deason-Toyne pointed out the ironies of
the court’s decision to allow SQ 777 to remain
on the general election ballot. While the ruling
gives voters a voice in the decision to approve
or reject the measure, she said its passage ultimately would rob them of that voice.
“If SQ 777 becomes law, people will lose
that voice when it comes to regulating farming
(and) ranching agricultural practices,”
Deason-Toyne said. “It will be entirely up to
the courts to decide whether there is a compelling state interest which would justify state
regulations — we will lose our voice.”
SQ 777 is scheduled to be presented Nov.
8 to voters along with several other ballot
measures and candidates competing for federal, state and local offices.

The Cheyenne Star

Aug
11

Oklahoma Cattlemen
Supports State Question 777

2016
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, August 4, 2016 - State Question(SQ)
777, Oklahoma's Right to Farm, is
a state constitutional amendment to
protect Oklahoma's family farmers
and ranchers, including small, local
and organic farms, from unreasonable government interference
and attacks by out-of-state special
interests.
Right to Farm will not overturn
all agriculture regulations or existing
laws.
"We intentionally included language in the state question to preserve existing regulation. The State
Question would not give farmers
and ranchers a blank check but ensures reasonable regulations," said
Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's
Association (OCA).
All families have to deal with
rising food costs. According to
Kelsey, SQ 777 will allow Oklahoma's family farmers and ranchers
to do what they do best: grow great
tasting, nutritious food that families
can afford.
SQ 777 will protect our natural
resources. According to Kelsey,
Right to Farm will ensure that
farmers and ranchers have access
to the latest tools, techniques and
technologies; allowing them to grow
more abundant and nutritious food,

while using less land and fewer natural resources.
"Language is included that allows
the legislature to act on issues of a
'compelling state interest'. Clean
water and safe food clearly are
compelling state interests to most
Oklahomans," Kelsey said. "OCA
and other agriculture groups pushed
for legislation that was passed this
session for water to be considered
a compelling state interest." The
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Oklahoma.
OCA, together, with several other Oklahoma agriculture organizations urges a yes vote in November
2016 for SQ 777. To learn more
visit oklahomarighttofarm.com.
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association is the trusted voice of the
Oklahoma cattle industry and exists
to support and defend the state and
nation's beef cattle industry. The
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and membership encourages you to
join us in our advocacy efforts to ensure less government intervention,
lower taxes and a better bottom line.
For more information about OCA
membership or activities visit www.
okcattlemen.org.

Property of OPS News Tracker and members of the Oklahoma Press Association.

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ons2@yahoo.com.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Right to farm protects
against outside interest
As constituents, we get to send state
senators and representatives to the State
Capitol to make the best decisions for the
future of Oklahoma. In 2015, our legislators decided one of our state’s leading
industries, agriculture, needed constitutional protection. Both urban and rural

legislators overwhelmingly passed HJR
1012 to put State Question 777, or the
Right to Farm, on the ballot.
Yes, that means our state lawmakers
believed protecting farmers and ranchers
to be of utmost importance. Critics of the
Right to Farm claim it ties the hands of
legislators. If this was the case, why did
the overwhelming majority of legislators
approve it?
Paul Muegge and his cohorts with the
Oklahoma Stewardship Council only want

to distract from the real issues. His group
is just one example of those from whom
we, as farmers, are trying to protect ourselves.
The Oklahoma Stewardship Council
does not represent family farmers. In fact,
the group’s chairs both are directly affiliated with the Humane Society of the United
States, Washington, D.C., based animal
rights activist group. The Stewardship
Council is nothing more than a disguise
by HSUS, whose ultimate goal is to put

Property of OPS News Tracker and members of the Oklahoma Press Association.

an end to animal agriculture.
Without SQ 777, Oklahoma family farmers and ranchers will remain vulnerable to
the attacks of these groups, whose aim is to
put farmers and ranchers out of business.
Don’t believe the lies of the opposition.
Stand with me and other family farmers
and ranchers across the state and vote yes
on SQ 777.
Thurman Rail, Carter County Farm
Bureau Board President
Ardmore