Every year, the first full week in February brings about a new legislative session in Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau public policy team has been working diligently to pore over thousands of submitted bills for the coming year.
The OKFB Board of Directors released the organization’s legislative priorities in January after Farm Bureau members set grassroots policy for 2023 during the 2022 OKFB Annual Meeting last November. These priorities include top issues such as rural infrastructure, landowner advocacy, marijuana and issues concerning Oklahoma’s future – many of which can be found in legislation available for consideration at the state Capitol this year.
While not an exhaustive list, the following are several top issues OKFB will be tracking during the 2023 legislative session.
County government and ad valorem taxes
After a review of submitted bills, one theme that often rises to the top each year is legislation relating to ad valorem taxes and the expansion of county government. Counties and municipalities often look to ad valorem taxes as a way to generate income, but Farm Bureau members have long opposed new or increased ad valorem taxes as farmers and ranchers are often unfairly impacted by property taxes when they possess a large amount of capital that does not always generate a profit.
Similarly, expanding county zoning authority and hazard mitigation districts is something Farm Bureau members oppose for many of the same reasons. With bills filed on both subjects, the OKFB public policy team will maintain an active role in the conversation at the Capitol.
A number of bills have been filed on marijuana regulation and usage in Oklahoma. OKFB members support the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority’s enforcement and compliance efforts as well as increased transparency in marijuana businesses.
However, with a referendum vote on State Question 820 in early March to potentially legalize the recreational use of marijuana, Farm Bureau members stand strongly opposed with firm policy against the content of the state question.
Animal care standards
OKFB is keeping a close eye on several bills relating to animal care standards, including changing housing practices in the hog industry and establishing certain rights for pets. The hog housing legislation comes in response to California’s Proposition 12, which expands the required space for breeding hogs and places restrictions on the pork that can be sold in California.
OKFB has taken an active stance against the requirements Proposition 12 sets through a “friend of the court” brief supporting pork producers in the case of National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, which is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Farm Bureau members feel animal housing and care standards should be a decision between the producer and his or her veterinarian rather than through government mandate.
OSU Veterinary Medicine
OKFB was pleased to see legislation filed in support of Oklahoma State University’s veterinary medicine program. With a shortage of large-animal veterinarians in rural Oklahoma, Farm Bureau members strongly support the land-grant institution’s endeavors to grow and improve Oklahoma’s only college of veterinary medicine.
Ways to stay involved in the legislative process
Farm Bureau members have the unique opportunity to stay informed and closely involved throughout the 2023 legislative session.
Members can quickly and easily advocate for agriculture and rural Oklahoma right from the farm or ranch by signing up to receive legislative action alerts. By signing up, you are opting to receive text message updates from Farm Bureau for policy initiatives. OKFB will send alerts only when your voice is needed most. Learn more about the OKFB Action Alert system at okfb.news/takeaction.
Weekly legislative Zoom calls
Tune in every Friday at noon during legislative session to hear weekly updates on what OKFB is doing at the state Capitol. Contact your field representative for information on how to get connected.
Lincoln to Local and legislative updates
Be sure to follow OKFB on Facebook and Twitter (@okfarmbureau) to watch Lincoln to Local, OKFB’s bi-weekly video series during session. A weekly written legislative update will also be posted to the OKFB website every Friday at okfarmbureau.org.
County Capitol visits
Contact your field representative to inquire about scheduling a visit to the state Capitol with your county. Visiting counties have the opportunity to speak with their legislators on important issues for agriculture and rural Oklahoma.