(Editor’s Note: NonDoc agreed to publish Point/Counterpoint pieces on State Question 777 from two organizations, Oklahoma Farmers Care and Oklahomans for Food, Farm and Family. The first group supports the ballot question, and the second opposes it. While both organizations missed their agreed-upon deadline of Aug. 31, one group made its subsequent deadline and the other group asked for multiple extensions without ultimately submitting a piece. NonDoc presents the Yes on SQ 777 group’s piece here.)
When two sides are fighting like cats and dogs on an issue, I think you have to take a close look not just at what the sides are saying, but who is on each side.
Who supports State Question 777, aka the “Right to Farm” bill, and why? Who is financing the opposition?
Before I get into that, let me tell you about my family. My husband and I, along with my in-laws, raise and grow a variety of farm products near the northwest Oklahoma town of Fairview. On our place at any time you might find wheat, canola, grain sorghum, cattle and more. While I may live in the western part of the state, I grew up on a farm in Muskogee County, where we raised crops like soybeans, spinach and sweet corn, which we sold to members of surrounding communities.
As young farmers, my husband and I know that farming is not an easy job, especially with the state of the farm economy right now, but there’s no other way we’d rather make our living, and I hope that someday our children will have the option to make their living off the land as well. SQ 777 is about protecting this farm for our children — so the next generation can make a living raising our food just like my husband and me and our parents.
‘More than a job or industry’
My husband and I are family farmers, and we support SQ 777. Nearly all the farmers and ranchers we know support SQ 777. The member-led organizations that we give our time, effort and financial support to are in favor of SQ 777 because they represent our interests. Here is a list of the farmer-led organizations that support SQ 777:
- Oklahoma Farm Bureau
- Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association
- American Farmers and Ranchers
- Oklahoma Pork Council
- Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council
- Oklahoma Poultry Federation
- Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association
- Oklahoma Grain & Feed Association
- Oklahoma Agribusiness Retailers Association
- Oklahoma Cotton Council
- Oklahoma Sorghum Association
Why do organizations, from sorghum and cotton to cattle and pigs, all support SQ 777? Because they know how important SQ 777 is to their farmer and ranch members. Because families like mine are standing up for the Right to Farm.
This is about much more than a job or an industry. Agriculture is our way of life. Opponents are trying to make SQ 777 out to be some kind of corporate welfare, but the family farms in our community are our community, and SQ 777 is about protecting those families and that way of life.
Humane Society of the United States funds opposition
But what about the opposition? The “No” on SQ 777 campaign has gotten a lot of press lately, but there is one organization that time and again provides the financing for anti-agriculture ballot initiatives: the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Not to be confused with our local shelters, HSUS is a national fundraising powerhouse that brings in over $135 million a year (a miniscule portion of which is actually spent on direct animal care).
Don’t just take my word for this. Do you own research, and check out the opposition’s website. HSUS and their “Legislative Fund” are right there as sponsors, next to the Sierra Club:
Some of HSUS’ recent projects include spending nearly $750,000 on a failed ballot initiative in North Dakota (that’s more dollars than there are North Dakotans) that the farming community opposed. When Missouri passed their version of Right to Farm in 2014, HSUS funneled over $650,000 through their front group, Missouri’s Food for America. In 2008, HSUS financed Proposition 2 in California to require all eggs sold in that state (including those raised outside of California) to abide by California regulations. This initiative is expected to raise the price of eggs substantially, and we can all thank HSUS for that. According to Ballotpedia, HSUS spent over $4 million to pass Proposition 2.
Here in Oklahoma, HSUS has made the largest contribution to their front group by far: a $17,500 contribution. That’s just the beginning, however.
So, is it any wonder that farm families like mine are standing up and saying we need proactive protection from the deep pockets of HSUS?
‘We want our way of life to endure’
SQ 777 isn’t some blank check or insider favor. Farmers and ranchers support this question because we want our way of life to endure. We want to be governed by Oklahoma standards, not California standards. If you really want to know the truth on SQ 777, just look at who is supporting each side. Ask farmers what they think. Don’t wait for an HSUS-funded ad to show up on your TV.
When you go to vote on Election Day, I hope you’ll stand with my family and my community, and vote “Yes” on 777.