Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Oklahoma Right-to-Farm Legislation About More Than Agricultural Practices

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

KOMUnews / flickr

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemeyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.

Oklahoma voters have at least a year before seeing ads for and against state questions on the ballot in November 2016. But you might want to get used to hearing this phrase now: right-to-farm.

It’s a divisive national issue that’s made its way to the Sooner State, one that puts agriculture at odds with environmentalists and animal rights advocates.

In Missouri, it was a fight between two sides that loathe each other. The right-to-farm amendment narrowly passed there in 2014, and not until after a recount. Part of Missouri’s constitution now reads like this: “The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.”

That sounds innocent, but the language is broad. There is plenty of room for allegations like the one suggested by former Missouri lawmaker Wes Shoemyer.

“There will be challenges of anything you can think of in the court system,” Shoemyer says. “Whether folks in the middle of the cities, say they’ve got a little patch of ground and decide they want to farm. Can they raise hogs and cattle right in their own backyard?”

Now Shoemyer works with the Humane Society of the United States, a main funder of the right-to-farm opposition in Missouri, and enemy of Farm Bureaus across the country who’ve pushed similar amendments in Indiana, North Dakota, and here in Oklahoma.

Next stop, Oklahoma

A bill proposed by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, would, if passed by voters, change Oklahoma’s constitution to say something very similar to Missouri’s. It adds: “The legislature shall pass no law that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.”

John Collison with the Oklahoma Farm Bureau questions why the Humane Society is so concerned about agriculture. He says farmers are can be trusted to protect animals and the environment.

“We’re the ones that raise millions and millions of animals every single day, and take care of them,” he says. “They’re our livelihood. We’re not going to treat our business badly.”

But Cynthia Armstrong with the Oklahoma chapter of the Humane Society says many farmers resist animal-related regulations because they’re doing “the bidding of corporate agriculture.”

“They want to do business the way they want to do it, without regard to environmental concerns, animal welfare,” she says. “They don’t want any of that getting in their way.”

Agriculture isn’t all

Humane Society accuses Farm Bureau of being in the pocket of big ag. Farm Bureau, for its part, says it’s obligated to protect farmers from Humane Society-backed anti-GMO laws and chicken-caging regulations, like ones on the books in California and Oregon.

But the right-to-farm fight in Oklahoma is about more than agricultural practices. Rep. Biggs didn’t respond to StateImpact’s interview requests, but said as much when presenting House Joint Resolution 1012 in committee.

“Unfortunately we have an outside who has seen fit to kind of attack agriculture here in Oklahoma, go as far as to sue the attorney general who’s looking to protect us, to stop him from doing some of his actions,” Biggs told the House Rules Committee.

He’s referring to a lawsuit Humane Society filed against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, accusing him of harassment. Pruitt is investigating the Humane Society over fundraising allegations stemming from the 2013 Moore tornado, an ongoing court battle unrelated to farmers’ rights that seems to have fueled some of the animosity between both sides.

Complicating matters is the fact that Oklahoma already has a right-to-farm law on the books, which outlaws so-called nuisance lawsuits against farmers and ranchers from nearby residents over issues like noise, odors and pollution. All 50 states have some form of right-to-farm law, and the American Legislative Exchange Council — better known as ALEC — has been working to strengthen them.

But statutes are easy to change. The State Constitution isn’t. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester, was the only ‘no’ vote on Oklahoma’s right-to-farm amendment proposal when it was heard in committee.

“Forever’s a long time,” Condit says. “Ten, 15 years from now, if we vote this in and the Legislature comes up with a crisis with agriculture, their hands are tied.”

Condit says he’s received hundreds of emails urging him to vote “no.”

“I don’t know if I got any to say vote yes,” he says.

From Farm to Constitution

StateImpact asked a few Oklahoma farmers about what they think of right-to-farm, and couldn’t find any that were even aware of the issue — or the bill.

It’s not clear what a right-to-farm amendment would mean for Oklahoma, but North Dakota in 2012 became the first state to amend its constitution to include one. North Dakota State University Agricultural law professor David Saxowsky says that in the three years since it was added, the right-to-farm amendment has yet to be challenged.

“I don’t think anybody was on the verge of introducing any laws that would be struck down by this amendment,” he says.

Clarification: The audio version of this story says Wes Shoemyer now works for the Humane Society of the U.S. Actually, he serves on HSUS’ Missouri Agriculture Council, an unpaid position. A more correct statement would be that Shoemyer works WITH the Humane Society of the U.S. We apologize for any confusion.


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Comments

  • KaD

    What most people don’t know about the ‘Humane Society’ is they have the same radical animal rights agenda as PETA-NO human animal interaction whatsoever is their goal. No meat, no fur or leather, no pets. The HSUS operates NO shelters, contributes only 1% of the donations to shelters, has hedge funds outside the US, and their president admitted he ‘doesn’t even like animals’. http://www.humanewatch.org http://www.petakillsanimals.com

    • terryward

      knucklehead.

    • Janice Waltzer Curtis

      Where do you get your brain washed?

    • James Atkinson

      That you would cite the above two links indicates you need to educate yourself more about this issue. Both those sources are front groups to corporate lobbying, humane watch is Berman propaganda- just google and find out. HSUS is not supposed to give money to shelters. That is not their mission. They never say they do-again, look it up. Pruitt got sued because he is harassing HSUS. He took phony Berman propaganda (the ridiculous survey you cited) and used it as the basis of a state invrstgation-outrageous abuse of state police power. Again, look it it up-I did. I went to downtown and pulled the legal brief Pruitt used tax dollars to hire a law firm to write. You need to check this stuff out better.

    • James Atkinson

      Here yo go, KaD. I hope the link works. Can you believe Oklahoma’s AG similarly abused the power of his office and wasted tax dollars with his special interest vendetta:

      http://m.gazette.com/secretary-of-state-humane-society-of-the-united-states-didnt-fraudulently-raise-funds-in-colorado/article/1564146

    • Amor Terra

      So what? They’re entitled to their “agenda,” just as you’re entitled to yours. If you think they abuse funds, report them to the IRS and try to get their nonproft standing revoked. Or better yet, start a facebook page to expose what you believe to be their “wrongdoing.” And if they’re killing animals inhumanely or for no good reason, by all means, report them. We already have laws that prohibit that, in case you hadn’t noticed.

  • ricky

    Farmers raise animals to make a living. Activists raise money by attacking the farmers. It doesn’t matter how the farmer does his work the activist will always contend that is never enough

    • Janice Waltzer Curtis

      Asinine. People should care about the treatment of animals on farms. Maybe you think it is great when ranchers starve and abuse their chickens, hogs, cattle or horses? Happens ALL the time in Oklahoma and it is possible the constitutional change will give them the right to do anything they want to do with no legal consequences. Nothing like red morons voting to put corporate written laws in state constitutions. ALEC has run Oklahoma since the reds took over control of the state.

    • James Atkinson

      How can you call an industrial animal confinement operation so polluted that 1,000 of the hogs die of poison gas farming? See:

      Over 1,000 Hogs Die in Confinement Pit Gas Accident Near Tracy
      Posted: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 at 11:54 am
      Author: KNIA/KRLS News – Dr. Bob Leonard
      Print Version

      HSUS is not against farming; it is against that. Smith Farm is the worlds largest hog producer. Do you know what country is the majority owner? The Chinese, run by the Communists. That is who you are sacrificing your clean air and water for to do this “farming.” If you do not think it is immoral to lock up animals so they cannot move their entire life and are poisoned by their own waste; if you think it is okay to pass a law (Iowa ag-gag) to cover it up and hide it because you know the public will not stand for it when they find out (I guess forget about free speech); then maybe you will care you are doing for a company Wall Street sold to China because they have so destroyed their own land, air, and water they are coming after rural America’s. Wake up, people. Educate yourselves by following the money. Scott Pruitt AG of Oklahoma is for sale to the highest bidder. He is a disgrace to the state.

    • Amor Terra

      And big agribusiness, who is behind this amendment, raise animals to make a buck. Their only legal reason for being is to make a buck–to maximize their shareholders’ investment. They don’t care about the land or the animals–they care about money. And leaving industry to regulate itself is NEVER a good idea–remember how the banks were going to voluntarily fix everything without reinstating Glass-Seagall? Yeah–how’s that going?

  • laurelladesborough

    The Oklahoma Right to Farm Act is an important idea that needs to be put in place to protect farmers and ranchers from the ongoing assault of the animal rights organizations who are working to eliminate animal agriculture. They have no shame in stating this is the case. So, I hope that all animal owners and breeders and members of the public will support this legislation. It is needed. What we don’t need in the US is efforts by the animal rights orgs to put in place regulations that do not help the animals or the animal owners and breeders. This law will help protect animal agriculture.

    • James Atkinson

      Your post is completely misguided. Anyone who has any sense of decency understands factory animal production is most definitely NOT farming. Family farms in the traditional sense (clean water and air and open space in rural areas) cannot compete with these industrial animal gulags so true ranchers and farmers are hurting themselves supporting this corporate-backed initiative in Oklahoma. Ask yourselves this: why should agriculture get special treatment in the state constitution no other industry or business receives? What is that all about, huh? The fact this industry is doing something so controversial it thinks it justifies a constitutional ammendment ought to send up red flags to thinking voters. We all have to eat and taxpayers give billions in subsidies to corporate agriculture annually but apparently that is not enough so we prohibit free speech with ag gag laws and ammend the constitution with right to “farm?” People who think for themselves wonder what is going on here.

      • laurelladesborough

        Maybe you need to do more research about farming pracitices and about farms. I come from a farm background and am familiar with many normal animal husbandry practices that are just fine. This idea that the Right to Farm Act is about protecting big ag is one of the selling points of the radical animal rights agenda. You are either an animal rights advocate OR you are misinformed about this law. When the HSUS has spokesmen who openly have stated that they are working to eliminate animal agriculture, that should be a wake up call. Now, in California, HSUS managed to get some of their “ideas” put into laws. Result: Cargill, one of the largest poultry farmers has moved their operation to China. Now, if you think those Chinese workers are going to treat poultry better than US farmers, you are probably smoking something! These animal rights laws have ONE purpose: to eventually eliminate the use of animals. Period. They know they cannot do it quickly, so they do it incrementally, with lots of propaganda along the way, including editing videos, placing spies on farms, etc. This is a total invasion of the privacy of the farmer and rancher. Next they will be sending drones over ranches, which hopefully will get shot down!

        • James Atkinson

          I worked on a farms in Idaho from 4th grade on moving irrigation pipe, cleaning animal pens, hoeing beets, picking rocks off spud diggers, driving swathers, bucking bales, etc. None of what you wrote is correct nor makes logical sense. I have never once heard or read anything from the HSUS about ending animal agriculture. Please provide the source for your claim. Tens of millions of California voters passed state ballot initiatives outlawing a few of the most egregious factory farming practices despite massive spending by corporate agriculture in opposition. Californians made these changes; not the HSUS. What you say about Cargill does not make sense. Since when are eggs shipped from China to the United States? California produces more agricultural products than any other state. Of the ten most productive agricultural counties in the United States, 10 are in California. The San Joaquin Valley is the single riches agricultural region in the world. Do you really think Cargill could abandon this market? If the HSUS is destroying California agriculture, how come it produces about twice the output of second largest producer which I believe is Texas? The abdominal treatment of animals in factory farms has been documented from myriad independent sources and opposed by veterinarians writing in professional journals. What you are defending as “animal husbandry” is no such thing: it is horrific industrial-scale cruelty that no one has a right of privacy to engage in. If this is just traditional farming and ranching practiced for hundreds of years, why the need for ag-gag laws and a special set-aside in the state constitution? These practices are against the law in Europe; Why would the HSUS or anyone else for that matter want to fly drones over thousands of acres of sparsely populated rural land? I hope you will do some investigating besides believing what the Farm Bureau tells you.

          • Jenna Rose Anderson

            Just want to say thanks to James for providing such informed answers. I went to OU Law and am a small ag supporter – I could not have said any of this better myself. Thanks James!

          • laurelladesborough

            I don’t get my information from the Farm Bureau. I get my information from the media at large and from individuals who have been on the receiving end of the HSUS b.s. As for the HSUS wanting to end animal agriculture…you might take a read at some of the statements in that regard. Go to http://www.bewareanimalradicals.com and see for yourself. If that doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of books out there that delineate the activities of the HSUS and other anti-animal orgs.

          • James Atkinson

            A link to something you found on the internet is not a source. Your mind is closed and you are making irrational posts but to inform readers who are interested in learning I am going to post a couple links: These links will take you to named sources you will recognize and can verify:
            http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/18/the-sleazy-war-on-the-humane-society.html
            http://m.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/rick-berman-funded-oscar-night-slam-humane-society
            http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1379715.
            I do not know who is behind what you posted but these published sources will give interested readers the idea. With millions of homeless pets destroyed in shelters every year that you would post that link is offensive to me and other volunteers who donate money and time to reduce the death and suffering of companion animals. You do not seem to want to think critically about anything you are posting. How exactly are dogs “The next endangered species?” when millions–mixed and pure bred–destroy annually because they are unwanted? This so-called right-to-farm ammendment enshrines in the constitution puppy mills which anyone who cares about dogs knows are revolting. Don’t believe me? Here is a link to the USDA web page where you can read inspection reports and violations: https://acis.aphis.edc.usda.gov/ords/f?p=116:203:0::NO. I have nothing more to add to this thread. State Question 777 is a special interest con job with potentially disastrous implications. It is not in the interests of the vast majority of Oklahomans. For the record, I earned my PhD from OU, own a house in Norman, vote in Cleveland County, pay taxes in the state, and have no conflict of interest either for or against the measure.

          • innertrader

            YOU STATE that “A link to something you found on the internet is not a source.” Yet, you post “links” on the internet (highly liberal in propaganda) that you claim will take you to “sources.” IF there are “sources”, why didn’t you refer directly to that “source”? I think that speaks for itself. Meanwhile, this country has FAR LARGER PROBLEMS, that your “links” have supported in creating, that we should be focused on.

          • James Atkinson

            In the electronic media era, there are protocols for publishing sources. While admittedly I did not follow exactly American Psychological Associaion (APA) format, if you view the link you will find author, date, year from a recognized, transparent source. The “internet” is not a “source” as have pointed out, therefore it is not liberal anymore than is a sheet of paper. Many people do think this is an important topic, especially the industry-backed groups who went to great expense and trouble to get it on the ballot and have spent at least 10x what the opposition has promoting it. How the typical Oklahoman can see this measure as good for them, their families, or their state–not to mention billions of living sentient creatures–is simply beyond my capacity to understand.

          • Amor Terra

            Last I checked (and I was a lawyer before I was a farmer), HSUS, PETA, and whoever else are free, in this “Constitutional Republic” to express their ideas without interference from government. You do NOT have a right to be protected from IDEAS, unless you’re one of those “special little snowflakes” that folks are always deriding.

          • laurelladesborough

            Protected from ideas? Hahaha. I am well protected from the insane controlling ideas of HSUS because I grew up on a farm, I know about animal husbandry and I know lies and deceits when I see them. I know of the lawsuits launched by HSUS against federal agencies to force them to take actions that were NOT the intent of Congres. I know of the HSUS volunteers running around in Oklahoma collecting $$$ for HSUS and acting like it was for local humane societies. As for as HSUS, it isn’t ideas they put forward, it is pure propaganda.

          • James Atkinson

            You keep repeating the same false statements over and over and over again despite the posting of credible evidence directly refuting your claims. You do not understand federal administrative rule-making, nor do you understand the Supremacy Clause and federal preemption. Your thinking is a textbook example how remarkably effective global agricultural conglomerates have been in conning and misdirecting low information voters like yourself.

          • laurelladesborough

            James Atkinson. You allege false statements. However, all my statements are based on facts. Anyone who does their homework will find published comments by the HSUS leadership that they want to eliminate animal agriculture, eliminate pet ownership (although Pacelle has recently tried to take back those statements but actions speak louder than words). In addition to published statements, we have the actual records of HSUS initiating lawsuits against federal agencies in order to bring about their agenda. They have sued both the USFWS and the USDA to force changes in regulations or laws to control, restrict or prohibit ownership of specific species of harmless birds, animals and snakes. Now, anyone who wants to know the facts…the facts are THERE.

          • James Atkinson

            You posted propaganda about HSUS. Those statement are so frequently repeated on the internet that HSUS volunteers created a website to debunk them.

            http://www.whoattackshsus.org/

            Wayne Pacelle published an article today (Nov 4, 2016) in the Weekly Standard, very conservative newspaper and blog, that also refutes your statements.

            http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/a-big-tent-approach-to-treating-our-food-the-right-way/article/2005236

            You might want to give it a read.

          • laurelladesborough

            James Atkinson. Don’t make me laugh. Do I have to print a bunch of quotes from Wayne Pacelle or from his “farm experts” to show you the truth? Clearly, the HSUS has a program to eliminate animal agriculture. They have PUBLISHED that statement, more than once. Pacelle himself has stated he has no special liking for animals. This is not about attacking the HSUS. It is about facts. Pure and simple facts. And the fact of the matter is that the animal rights orgs have been working since the seventies at least, with routine propaganda, with lawsuits against federal agencies to push their agenda, with large numbers of lobbyists walking the halls of Congress, with special booths at all legislative conferences pushing their anti-animal beliefs and veganism, putting millions of donor dollars off shore in the Cayman islands, putting thousands of dollars in their administrative staff retirement funds and putting ONE CENT PER DOLLAR for care and welfare of animals. Those are FACTS. HSUS has gone so far as to set up state agricultural councils and bring farmers onto those councils, where the farmers finally left when their eyes were opened to the devious designs of HSUS re agriculture. I have to believe you are working for HSUS due to your comments, either as a true beliver or a paid operative.

        • Amor Terra

          I am a farmer and I raise animals. I haven’t had any PETA activists come after me, and I’ll bet you haven’t either. As for their “goal:” How is it that YOUR viewpoint–that animals may be raised for their products–is deserving of greater protection under the law than the viewpoint of activists who say they should not be. It is an IDEA, the expression of which our Constitution protects, just as it protects your right to express your ideas about animal husbandry.

          You and others pushing this amendment keep saying you need this extraordinary protection because animal activists “say” they want to end animal agriculture. NOT ONE PERSON has given an example of an animal activist doing something to their animals or interfering with their animal operations for which those people were not prosecuted under existing laws that protect people’s property.

          • laurelladesborough

            Amor Terra. Wrong. Animal activists have been arrested and prosecuted under the AETA…which is a federal law to prosecute radical animal rights activists who disrupt animal enterprises and destroy property, including animals. If you are unaware of this law, and you SAY you are a farmer, then maybe you need to educate yourself. I have been watching these animal rights radicals since 1985 and they have damaged property, burned down a new research facility at UC Davis, broken into pheasant farms and released birds to die, set farm trucks on fire, broken into mink farms and released mink, broken into a research lab in N California and released all the mice that were part of a long term research project for humans, turned off the electricity to hog barns so the hogs died, and on and on. Maybe you are not getting all the news…

          • Amor Terra

            Thanks for not reading, and for making my point. I SAID, you can’t give an example of these groups interfering or harming animal operations where they WEREN’T prosecuted under existing law (which indicates other laws are needed). And you provide examples of groups BEING prosecuted (which indicates that existing remedies are adequate). Like most idealogues, you are so blind in your stridency that you can’t even read, much less think.

          • laurelladesborough

            Here is the problem. Being prosecuted under present law does not necessarily correct the problem. Example: A mink farmer’s minks are released. They are domestic animals, not knowing how to fend for themselves. Many killed on roadways. Some starve. Others killed by other predators. The animal rights activists who released the mink go to jail, have a court date, and end up spending time in prison. However, the mink farmer has now LOST his critters, LOST his income and that is NOT replaced by sending those s.o.b. activists to prison. So, this person has been harmed and the harm has not been corrected. The only correction was punishing the ARs. Get the difference? The dead and lost animals were NOT replaced and no monies were provided to the farmer for those animals. In some cases the animals being worked with are rare and as such are irreplacable. But then, the ARs who “care” so much about animals, really do NOT care a bit about animals. They care about their agenda of NO ANIMAL USE.

          • Amor Terra

            I was an attorney for quite a while, and you seem to have missed that there are two kinds of law–criminal, which you describe, and civil, which you seem to have forgotten about. Before, during or after those trials/fines/prison, if the farmer sues the individuals who let the minks out, or any organization who encouraged, or funded, or assisted them, they’d get paid for the value of the minks. Not to mention that no piece of paper, constitutional or not, stops people from doing bad things if they’re determined to do so. You know–how people still murder other people and drive drunk even though they’re illegal. Fortunately, the citizens of OK have spoken on this god-forsaken “amendment,” and for once, good sense prevailed. Now, if you and other like you are still worried about animal activists, you can go lobby the very conservative state legislature for some actual common-sense protections for family farmers to no be overburdened by state regulation or activist interference, instead of handing the big-ag companies carte blanche to suck the state dry.

          • laurelladesborough

            I am well aware of the difference between criminal and civil cases. I am also well aware that in order for an individual who has been “harmed” by a radical activist that the harmed person has to have the funds and an agreeable lawyer to take their case. In many cases, activists seek out the elderly, the single persons, and individuals who may not be in a position to deal with a lawsuit. That is why special laws may be needed which address this type of crime. It is not the same as stealing a car. When you cause animal disruption, whether death or destruction of specific identification of each animal, then you are causing a long term harm even if an animal is recovered. Or in the case of some birds and animals, the critter has been de-sexed…thru drugs or operations, thus destroying its ability to reproduce. If this is a rare critter, the damage may not be able to be addressed adequately.

          • Amor Terra

            An animal used in agriculture is common personal property. They’re not works of art, ancient artifacts, etc. If a rare breed, they are perhaps valuable, but money damages would always compensate for their loss. And yes, just like everyone else who is the victim of a crime or a civil wrong, you have to pursue your remedy, with or without a lawyer. I can guarantee that if an animal rights group is implicated (deep pockets), and there’s a criminal conviction or plea (certain win), and significant damages, a lawyer would fall all over him/herself to take such a case and get some easy money. Not to mention that most responsible people who run a business have this thing called “insurance” that would cover such losses. I’m not sure why every other type of business person in the U.S. has to take risks that someone might propose regulation that would make their business more cumbersome, but somehow the farm industry thinks it’s entitled to some “special snowflake” protection that no one else on god’s earth gets.

            And in any event a constitutional amendment would do NOTHING to stop people who would do such things from doing them. NOTHING. If they’re willing to commit a criminal act, it’s not going to stop them because it’s in a constitution instead of the statutes that are already there. The ONLY people/entities that SQ 777 (RIP) would have hampered was state and local governments–not animal activists doing illegal activities. The reason this POS amendment was proposed was in reaction to recent state and local legislation that either restricted chemical spraying more than federal law, and/or required GMO labeling–it’s nothing whatsoever about activists stealing/freeing/harming animals. Your argument is ridiculous, nonsensical and illogical, not to mention reactionary. And thank goodness, it is now moot as well.

          • laurelladesborough

            Just one point….you said: Your argument is ridiculous, nonsensical and illogical, not to mention reactionary” Well, I don’t think it is reactionary, nonsensical or ridiculous to be concerned because there are so many incidents where the AR radicals are harming farming activities that several states have passed laws to protect farmers. Here is just a short list of the AR attacks: burned down a new research facility at UC Davis, burned a whole fleet of trucks at one animal facility, released various kinds of farm animals from farm facilities, etc. When these kinds of activities are taking place, there is clearly a problem. This isn’t standard criminal activity, this is radical domestic terrorism, plain and simple, and has been so described by state attorney generals.

          • Amor Terra

            And, once again, those kinds of activities are already illegal both in civil law and criminal law–everywhere–and an amendment like the one just defeated in OK would do NOTHING to stop them, because such an amendment is a restriction on state and local GOVERNMENTS, not activists. You cannot possibly be as obtuse as you sound and still be able to remember to breathe.

      • Herbert Tennyson

        You are not an Oklahoman or you would know how stupid your argument sounds.

        • Shawna

          I am an Oklahoman and I think his argument is pretty good.

          • Amor Terra

            Me too. And I’m a farmer as well.

      • laurelladesborough

        James Atkinson. Are you a farmer? Have you no clue that the animal rights radicals are out to ELIMINATE animal agriculture? When the animal rights radicals, who have no clue about appropriate animal husbandry practices, sneak onto farms and try to find or actually create situations which LOOK to the average person as abuse, then publish videos and comments in order to make farming more expensive or actually unworkable, then we need laws to stop them. These radicals don’t give a damn about animals. They want to control humans…and turn us all into vegans! Check out the domestic terrorists that the Feds are watching…animal rights terrorists!

        • James Atkinson

          Anyone who has made an effort to educate themselves from credible sources understands what you have written is without merit. You are, of course, entitled to your views, even if they are devoid of facts. That your post and that of Mr. Herbert Tennyson are mostly ad hominem conveys to readers the weakness of your argument. The one favor I do ask of you and others who wish to sellout the state’s land, air, water, and morality to this unprecedented usurpation of citizens’ rights, however, is this: Please do not sully and pervert the word “farmer” and the wholesome images and memories it conjures by conflating it with industrial animal agribusiness.

          • laurelladesborough

            James Atkinson. Do me a favor. Please let me know what you recommend to protect farmers in Oklahoma from the animal rights agenda. As a farmer, I am very knowledgeable about the dangers of the HSUS in this state and in other states. These people have an anti-farm animal agenda. Are you aware of that? If not, please get up to date on it. Now, my whole issue is this: How can farmers in Oklahoma protect themselves from the assaults of the HSUS on animal agriculture? If you have a better way than the present proposed legislation, please publish it on this site. That is the critical issue.

          • James Atkinson

            I agree with you–this IS a critical issue we are all concerned about for different reasons. It is important to remember this is NOT legislation. There are already many laws on the books protecting agriculture and balancing its interests against the rights of everybody else in Oklahoma. If necessary, more laws can be passed, repealed or modified through the normal legislative process. This is an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution, an extraordinary attempt to give unique protections to businesses; vital businesses, but businesses nonetheless. This measure equates business practices with issues involving personal liberty like free speech and the right to an attorney. That is why the opposition to 777 is so widespread. If you will post to this site specifically what you are fearful of in terms of the “assaults of the HSUS on animal agriculture” I will strive to answer you concerns truthfully.

          • laurelladesborough

            James Atkinson. You have not answered my question. My whole point about this amendment to the Oklahoma constitution is one thing: What protection do farmers, animal breeders and keepers, or any entity working with animals have in this state from the assaults of the HSUS. And please do not insult me by saying I am closed minded or that I am following the humanewatch website. I have been around a damn sight longer than Berman and I have SEEN what the HSUS can do. I have seen their lawsuits to force changes in federal laws passed by Congress. I have seen their IRS docs where they put a lot of the dollars donated for animal welfare into their Cayman Islands investment accounts, as well as into huge retirement fund benefits. ONE PERCENT of each dollar goes for the animals. Oh, and the rest for lobbying Congress and suing responsible animal enterprises. The HSUS, PETA, ALF and these other radical orgs want to eliminate animal ownership, animal farming, etc. Goodwin, who works for HSUS has stated that they plan to eliminate animal agriculture. Could anything be more clear than that? As for laws on the books, small farmers do not have the funds to go to court when they are attacked by HSUS, ARC, etc. So, it appears to me that you are speaking up for the animal rights radicals, just as Amor Terra and Terry Ward have done. So, I am waiting to hear your plan on protecting farmers and animal owners from the HSUS juggernaught against animal agriculture.

          • James Atkinson

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4c9cc18b4b0eedf59a9db91451d31d775375163282762fa68a5e219e5c714022.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8d9941e38c9fc982aad4002a0e8bc9fad445e8f743b2cf5ae676b4afd9407bae.jpg

            You are posting blatantly false, undocumented statements. You do not even understand the missions of the organizations you are haranguing. I have attached screenshots from Charity Navigator refuting your statements about expenses. This is conversation is has no constructive purpose. Goodbye.

          • laurelladesborough

            Okay James. You have played your hand. I also note that the HSUS was taken to task for MISREPRESENTING their actual work on their tax forms for including PR work as part of their program expenses. I know very very well that the HSUS has sued federal agencies to force changes in the regulations under laws passed by Congress. I know very well that they put into federal agencies their followers: Dr. Susan Leiberman was one. Sarah Conant is another. She is in enforcement division and fined a family for raising rabbits. The fine was $93,000. for raising and selling a little over $500. worth of rabbits. Now tell me about the wonders of the HSUS. This organization is totally anti-animal agriculture. One of their officers, Goodwin, has publicly stated that their mission is to ELIMINATE animal agriculture. You cannot make this stuff up. It is out there. And HSUS has now lost their special rating on charity listings. I now see why you are speaking up for HSUS…you are probably a follower OR a worker in the trenches for this ungodly radical group.

          • James Atkinson

            Madam, this is not a game. WHO took HSUS to task for
            misrepresenting their tax forms? WHERE is your evidence for any of this? 77.1% to “Program Expenses” is for animals; not the 1% you posted previously. That figure is calculated by Charity Navigator, and has zero to dowith the IRS. These financials are externally audited. Of course advocacy groups want to comment on regulations promulgated by federal agencies; that is the process by design. You can hardly claim agriculture is underrepresented; they receive billions is taxpayer subsides annually. I have no idea what you are talking about with respect to enforcement–private advocacy groups have authority to enforce anything. If you are referring to APHIS under the USDA, what is enforcement action report #? They are public record; you can retrieve it from the link I previously posted and what has that got to do with this discussion anyway. This amendment would cannot supersede federal regulations. I have made every effort to engage in a policy discussion with you involving facts and you have posted only innuendo and specious accusations.

          • laurelladesborough

            James Atkinson. This is not a game alright. I have reported facts. period. Here are a few HSUS quotes for your reading pleasure. “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals…To this day I don’t feel bonded to any non-human animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Wayne Pacelle quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 251, before joining the HSUS. I am sure you are aware that Pacelle is CEO of HSUS. And this “It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership.” Elliot Katz, President “In Defense of Animals,” Spring 1997: My point is simple: The animal rights leadership want to eliminate animal agriculture, pets, and any relationship with animals. So we should be wary of their support for or against any proposed legislation, amendment, or other type of law regarding animals since they want to eliminate those animals from our lives.

          • laurelladesborough

            You better check Charity Navigator’s latest remarks re HSUS.

          • Amor Terra

            You seem to have little understanding of what this amendment is, or what it can or would do. First, regarding your little anecdote about the rabbits was done by the USDA, and they fined the family because they didn’t get a required license to sell rabbits. I think it’s ridiculous, but this amendment would do less than NOTHING to stop abuses like that, since a state amendment can’t stop federal regulation. In fact, in the absence of the opportunity for state regulation (because of this amendment), someone seeking to address a problem or stop a practice would HAVE to go to the Feds. So instead of having Oklahoma lawmakers or regulators decide the issue, it would default to the Washingtonians. Just what everyone needs–a bunch of fat cat lawyer/politicians in DC to tell everyone what to do. Great idea.

          • laurelladesborough

            Don’t ever tell me about the good things the ARC does. They are evil incarnate. They invade homes where appropriate animal care exists, they rip up cages, they KILLED a goose because “geese shouldn’t be pets” and they KILLED a chicken because it was blind and “had no quality of life” in their opinion. Scotlund Haisley is lucky he hasn’t been shot by an animal owner for the atrocities he has committed. Then taking a bunch of parrots from a home where they were well cared for and they ended up at the Bailey Foundation where they were STARVED TO DEATH, along with some dogs, cats and other animals. ARC is evil incarnate…their reputation is well known. If you support these people, you are obviously a member of the animal rights cult followers…brainwashed to think that ARs do good work for animals when the fact is, they harm animals.

          • Amor Terra

            A) You must not have finished filling out that application for empress of the Universe, so at least until that’s approved, you don’t tell me what to do or not do; B) Unlike you, I am not an idealogue, so I am able to take each action of a person or group and evaluate it independently on its merits–the story I cited to looked to me like they did a good thing, taking animals from a neglectful situation and placing them in shelters where they will have proper care and hopefully acquire loving homes. It seems that, if anyone here is brainwashed, it is you.

          • laurelladesborough

            Amor Terra. I am not an ideologue. And I am aware of the meaning of that word. I have simply WATCHED the activities of many animal rights organizations, their propaganda which sounds really fine, unless you know what is behind it, (generally seeking donations to fund their large salaries). While these AR groups like ARC like to put forward positive stories about their escapades, the real question remains: what happens to those animals AFTER the ARC has intervened? In the Tennessee case, many died of starvation because they were sent to another facility where the worker just got tired of caring for them so they starved to death! ARC seeks positive PR. In the Tennessee case a local newspaper person who had visited the facility previously and KNEW the condition of the critters indicated there was no problem! ARC creates its own stories. This is the kind of action that gives them the positive PR, whether or not it is true.

          • Amor Terra

            Yeah, I’m sure those liberal hippies at Fox News are all over planted stories by animal rights activists.

        • Amor Terra

          Please…tell me, a fellow farmer, about the last time “animal activists” came on your place and did something to or regarding your animals.

    • Amor Terra

      This constitutional amendment (not a law, laureladesborough), will leave the state regulators and the public almost completely unarmed when agribusiness uses practices that pollute land or water to save a buck, or to use a chemical that harms people–until or unless they can conclusively “prove” that the harm is all from the ag practice. It is basically arguing that the ag industry should regulate itself. That worked so well with the banks after they repealed Glass-Stegall that you want to repeat it, huh?

      Remember how long it took for it to be “proven” that cigarettes were dangerous? Remember how the tobacco industry kept claiming that there was not “scientific proof” they were killing people? You know, for about 30-40 years. You want to give legal authority for agribusiness to poison people for short term gain, until forty years of research is done? Ah, what the heck–after our kids are dead from leukemia or something, we can always have a lawsuit, right?

  • Harlan

    The global corporations behind this amendment — Tyson, Cargill, Monsanto, Smithfield, JBS — are afraid of democracy, they decimated rural Oklahoma economies and put independent farmers and ranchers out of business.

  • Jenna Rose Anderson

    For what it’s worth, I want to express support for the anti-777 crowd. I think the fact that these laws have already been passed in a few states is an indication that there is a large, corporate entity involved. This just can’t be described as some sort of grass-roots movement by small Oklahoma farms seeking protection from the state of Oklahoma, although that’s what their website would lead you to believe. I don’t support large corporate farms and these laws seem to be in their best interest alone. Also and perhaps most dangerously, I think this would disadvantage the farmers that insist on treating their animals and their land with honesty and integrity, because they will be forced to compete in a market full of farmers (both big and small) that do not have the same commitment to good stewardship.

    • Amor Terra

      Of course it’s not about small farmers. It’s so that huge agribusiness corporations can do anything they choose to for short term gain and leave the mess for someone else to clean up. Like spraying chemicals that have already been accepted as carcinogenic in numerous other countries on your food and communities until or unless “science” in this country (which is beholden to industry) gets around to definitively proving that they’re killing people. Then, your consolation prize, after your kid is dead from leukemia, will be to sue them.

  • Amor Terra

    Here’s the real deal. Look at this quote: “John Collison with the Oklahoma Farm Bureau questions why the Humane
    Society is so concerned about agriculture. He says farmers are can be
    trusted to protect animals and the environment.”

    When is the last time that an industry could be “trusted” to regulate itself? If you want to give carte blanche to huge agribusiness corporations, who, like all corporations, are in it for a buck, not for the public good, to decide every last thing about the food you eat, with no recourse to do anything about it, then go ahead and vote for this amendment.

  • laurelladesborough

    I am not for corporate or small farmer abuse of animals. But, I am for strong laws on the books to protect ALL animal owners, breeders, keepers, etc. from the assaults of the animal rights ideologues. That includes PETA, HSUS, ARC, ALF and numerous others. While many of the animal rights orgs talk about animal abuse and animal welfare, those are the “covers” for their real agenda. First, to make money by appealing to the compassionate members of the public by asking for donations to “save” dogs, cats, etc. Where does that money go? For instance, in the case of HSUS a lot of that money goes to overseas investment funds, to huge retirement funds and to salaries. Then there is the money that goes to the many lobbyists working the halls of Congress to get laws passed to restrict, control and prohibit many different animal uses. We are not talking about laws to protect animals from abuse, but that is the “appearance” given to those laws. The fact is that many of these laws do nothing for the animals but do restrict humans. The idea is to control humans ability to lawfully and reasonably “use” animals, whether as pets or for food. Information on these matters can be discerned by reading the HSUS IRS forms. Then there are the more radical animal rights groups, ALF, ARC, etc. For instance, ARC (Animal Rescue Corps) will stage raids on decent animal owners, remove or kill their animals, all under local laws which they have twisted to meet their goal. In the process they kill on the spot any critter they deem “not to have a quality of life.” Now this is cruelty and arrogance combined. ARC is disgusting and thankfully is being sued by some animal owners who were targeted by ARC. Bottom line, animal owners need legal protection from these radicals. So, my question is what kind of protection do farmers and others have against these crazy radicals who would rather see animals dead than alive in our homes and farms?

    • Amor Terra

      You have the same protection as everyone else if someone destroys our property–the protection of the law, which doesn’t permit people to destroy property that belongs to someone else.

      • laurelladesborough

        Amor Terra. B.S. When the animal rights radicals have infiltrated both the USDA and USFWS and some local humane societies and animal controls, then responsible animal owners do not have protection from the radicals. That is why right to farm laws are being passed in states. When the radicals break down doors, take away your animals, keep them in terrible conditions so that many die, and meanwhile charge you for their care and won’t let your veterinarian see the animals, I certainly don’t think that is protection for your animals or the animal owners. It is SUPERFICAL protection of the animals and meanwhile making sure they get poor care, if sick allowed to die, etc. There are far too many cases like this happening right now. Farm animals, dogs, cats, snakes, rabbits, birds, etc. are being confiscated on “pretend” abuse (such as showing the judge photos of poor care that aren’t even of the animals in question!). This is fascism. This is radical animal rights in action in the USA, and sometimes in collusion with authorities.

        • Amor Terra

          No private organization can legally seize animals they don’t own. If they do, they’re subject to prosecution for theft, and to civil lawsuit as well. If you’ve got an issue with the animal cruelty laws, talk to your legislature, city council, county board, or whoever’s laws you’ve got a problem with.

          And while I’ve read about abuses by some animal activists, I’ve also read about and seen evidence, including first hand evidence of horrendous abuses of animals in “agriculture.” There should be a BALANCE between commercial practice and humane, reasonable treatment of animals, and right now, there are an awful lot of thumbs on the scale in favor of the commercial end of things–i.e. ag gag laws and criminalizing whistleblowing on the awful practices that exist in large factory farms.. THAT is what is fascism.

  • James Atkinson

    I have made several lengthy posts on this page about State Question 777. Posting in not something I usually do; however, this is a National Pubic Radio sponsored page which may attract citizens seeking accurate information to decide how to vote. Mendacity (telling lies) and ad hominem attacks (name-calling) are all I read in the posts in favor of this measure (@laurelladesborough). Here is an excerpt of the exact text from the ballot:

    “This measure adds Section 38 to Article II of the Oklahoma Constitution…
    • The right to make use of agricultural technology,
    • The right to make use of livestock procedures, and
    • The right to make use of ranching practices.
    These constitutional rights receive extra protection under this measure that not all constitutional rights receive. This extra protection is a limit on lawmakers’ ability to interfere with the exercise of these rights. Under this extra protection, no law can interfere with these rights, unless the law is justified by a compelling state interest-a clearly identified state interest of the highest order.”

    The technologies used by businesses and industry to produce the goods we buy–economists call it a “production function”–have evolved massively over time. Goods used to be made in ways that are unthinkable today–children working in sweat shops or coal mines, horrific cruelty and unsafe food as brought to light in Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle. Read the actual text of State Measure 777 above and ask yourself, “Now what is it about the agricultural industry that requires language put into Oklahoma’s constitution that gives it protections on par with habeas corpus (having to do with the legality of arrest, imprisonment, or detention), and that no other industry has?”

    • laurelladesborough

      Just where do you think modern farm technology came from? Here is a clue. University farm research. Colleges and universities have classes and research facilities that are related to care and welfare of farm animals. I will use just ONE example: laying hens. Why are laying hens kept 4 or 6 to a small cage with a wire base set on a slight slant? Here are the reasons. The wire base means the hens are not standing in their own fecal material. The slight slant to that wire base means the eggs roll out of the cage onto a conveyor belt, thus the eggs remain clean and not covered in feces. So what is the difference with hens in large open barns where they mill about on the floor? Well, for starters, the eggs are laid on the floor, in the fecal material!!! Then when you have a large flock of hens milling about, the “pecking order” takes over. You have various boss hens who start picking on other hens. Any hen that gets a peck and then there is blood, that hen is cannibalized by the other hens…eaten alive if you want to be factual. And with these hens walking about in fecal material, pecking in it, they pick up bacterial infections. So now you have sick hens in the flock. So, free range equals sick hens, dead hens and dirty eggs. Get it? How do I know this? I was raised on a farm. We had flocks of hens. This is the reality. All that b.s. about “they can’t stretch their wings” or “they can’t turn around” etc. is simply propaganda for the members of the public who have NO real clue as to the behavior of adult hens in flocks. And, HSUS is trying to take advantage of that lack of information and put their propaganda out there so that there are fewer eggs produced of reasonable price and fewer people eating eggs. Doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the welfare of the hens or they wouldn’t be pushing for free range. Not to mention outdoor free range where the hens are taken by hawks and eagles. Propaganda works when the public doesn’t know the truth.

      • James Atkinson

        Lady, throughout this lengthy series of posts you have proven you do not understand basic facts about government, and, for some reason, are so absurdly paranoid about people who care about minimal standards of human decency when it comes to farm animals, that you are unable to think critically or logically about facts. You will never, ever convince me or the public that extreme confinement of farm animals is natural, necessary, acceptable, or moral–never. Avian Flu, ag-gag laws, pit gas deaths, foul air, poisoned water, cruelty that veterinarians decry in professional journals and more civilized countries have outlawed is what this amendment is about. It is greed, nothing more. It is human selling-out their souls by treating living creatures as they are in these gulags, and giving away their clean air and water and food to Chinese investors. Why is it agriculture needs his constitutional amendment when no other industry does? Do you seriously think Wayne Pacelle is that big a threat? Do you even know what foreign interests own these hideous factory farms? The sad reality is we are all going to suffer because people like you would rather indulge your prejudices and crackpot theories than put the same energy into educating yourself.

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