Since it snowed or rained across most of Oklahoma last week, I will give you all a break from talking about water for just a bit. However, this is not to say in any way shape or form that the recent rain and snow has anything to do with fixing our long-term solution to drought in Oklahoma.
This week I want to discuss an issue at the Capitol with you that many of you are intimately familiar with. This problem comes in many different shapes, sizes and colors. It has been moving in from Texas at an alarming rate and is now in all 77 counties. We have sustained thousands of dollars in losses to this problem and it continues to be an issue. We have trapped it, shot it and made money off of it. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s not Longhorn fans. Rather, it’s wild pigs.
For years, we have been trying to address this issue of how we manage the wild hog population. Many of you have seen the damage this ever-roving pack of wild pigs has caused. They have torn up your crops and uprooted your land, and some even claim they are the cause of the lost quail population in Oklahoma. Whatever the case, we at Oklahoma Farm Bureau want this problem taken care of. These domesticated animals have run free and it is time to put Pandora back into the box.
If you have been to the coffee shop in the last few days, you have no doubt heard the commotion about a bill at the Capitol trying to solve some of the problems we face. One such bill is House Bill 1104 that is trying to find a solution to getting rid of feral pigs. This bill has gone through many changes and will continue to evolve until passed and signed by the governor.
Let me be clear on what OKFB is demanding on this bill: Today you cannot move pigs around the state without first having them tested. We do this on all pigs so we do not introduce sick pigs into our industry or our livestock showing world. We do this because it makes sense and protects all of the people involved with pigs.
We also allow people with a pickup and a trailer to load up wild pigs and haul them all over the state and dump them out. This is the equivalent to playing roulette with all six chambers loaded. We are working on House Bill 1104 to make sure that if these pigs are going to be rounded up and transported that all of them are first tested to ensure they are free of any diseases. It has been the Wild West in terms of how we treat these destructive animals, and it is time we stop. This bill, as it stands today, will not put people out of business or outlaw the shooting of wild hogs. It will just make Oklahoma agriculture safer as we move into the future.
This bill gets Oklahoma one step closer to getting this issue under control. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to call the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Public Policy Department at (405)530-2681.
Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s Legislative Update is written by John Collison, OKFB’s Vice President of Public Policy and Communications