Below is an editorial Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan wrote for The Daily Oklahoman as part of a point-counterpoint article on the Right to Farm resolution currently passing through the Oklahoma legislature. We have included Buchanan’s text below. You can also view the editorial on the NewsOK webpage.
Oklahoma is a rural, agricultural state with a multibillion-dollar agriculture industry. It would seem logical for agriculture producers to have the right to produce food and fiber using the latest, research-proven techniques. That’s why Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm group, supports House Joint Resolution 1012, co-authored by state Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, and state Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud.
The resolution, which has passed in the House 90-6, would place on the 2016 general election ballot a proposal to amend the Oklahoma Constitution guaranteeing the right to engage in certain farming and ranching practices.
Makes good, common sense, right? As Will Rogers once said, “If sense was so common, everyone would have it.”
This resolution would make it more difficult for outside interests to come into Oklahoma in an attempt to dictate agricultural production practices. This is not an issue of water use and regulation, as certain urban and municipal interests claim.
The legislation protects our farming and ranching heritage, where agriculture ranks No. 2 as an economic engine for Oklahoma. This is no small thing in a state where we have produced food and fiber for more than 100 years.
This also will protect consumers as they stand the most to gain from a safe, secure and affordable food supply.
Don’t be confused by the professional, Washington, D.C.-based anti-agriculture extremists and their anti-agriculture message.
Some would have you believe it’s unnecessary to constitutionally protect our right to farm and ranch here in Oklahoma. This is a rural, agriculture-friendly state. This isn’t California, Washington, Oregon, or Hawaii, where anti-agriculture bills have been passed.
We believe that’s exactly why we do need to protect Oklahoma agriculture. While we are basically a rural state today, most of our population is several generations removed from production agriculture. The latest agricultural census indicated only 2 percent of Oklahoma’s population is directly involved in production agriculture. In 1960 that number was 4 percent. Since 1960, the total Oklahoma population has increased 61 percent while the percent involved in actual food and fiber production has decreased 15 percent. Demographic experts predict the trend will grow in the future.
Are you willing to bet 20 years from now the majority of Oklahoma residents will understand production agriculture methods and continue to support science-based agricultural research?
Similar proposals to protect domestic agriculture have passed in Missouri and North Dakota and are being considered by several additional states. Leaders in these states showed the vision and courage to protect agriculture.
Farm Bureau has been the voice of Oklahoma agriculture for almost 75 years, and we will continue to fight for issues such as HJR 1012.