The Enid Regional Development Alliance voted today to support State Question 777, also known as “Right to Farm.”

The ERDA voted to show support for the agricultural industry in Enid and Northwest Oklahoma, according to a press release from the ERDA.

Tom Evans, ERDA chairman of the board, said agriculture is the backbone of the area’s economy.

“The Enid Regional Development Alliance voted to support SQ 777 to show our great ag-related employers in Northwest Oklahoma that we support their efforts to feed and clothe the world,” he said.

Enid is home to several agricultural companies, including Hanor Companies, AdvancePierre Foods, Johnston Seed, Consolidated Grain and Barge, ADM and more, as well as thousands of family farms in Northwest Oklahoma that contribute to the economy, according to the release.

Passage of SQ 777 will allow agriculture to continue to grow in the region, according to the release.

ERDA Executive Director Brent Kisling said Enid supports agriculture.

“I am pleased that our board has recognized the importance of agriculture in Northwest Oklahoma and has made a statement in supporting their efforts,” he said.

The state question has gathered support from several state organziations, including the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Pork Council, the Oklahoma Cotton Council, the Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council, the Poultry Federation, American Farmers & Ranchers and the Oklahoma Wheat Growers’s Association, as well as several state legislators.

SQ 777 would amend the state Constitution to provide additional protection for farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma.

Similar right-to-farm amendments were passed in Missouri in 2014, and North Dakota in 2012.

State Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Mulhall, coauthored the bill and said it is to prevent out-of-state activist groups from dictating farming and ranching practices.

Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, said this state question not only protects the freedoms of farmers and ranchers, but also protects the freedoms of every Oklahoman to choose food.

“This allows us to continue to do what we do to produce safe, affordable food,” he said. “We believe it also protects consumers because one of the greatest freedoms we have is the freedom to choose food. Maybe they want food produced a certain way. If you want to eat organic beef, get after it, but don’t impose it on the rest of us.”

The Right to Farm movement has gathered significant opposition, too.

The Oklahoma Stewardship Council, headed by former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson, has taken a stance against the right-to-farm bill, calling it a “right-to-harm” movement instead and citing pollution and animal abuse concerns.

“I think it would impact any future effort to protect the waters of the state from discharges by the industry,” Edmondson said. “Any new standards on surface application of wastes would be presumed to be unconstitutional, new standards of air pollution would be unconstitutional.”

Organizations against the state question include Oklahoma Animal Welfare League, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Tulsa, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Oklahoma Coalition of Animal Rescuers, Save the Illinois Rover and the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle

Written by:  Sally Asher