State Question 777, dubbed the Right to Farm by proponents but derided as the “Right to Harm” by opponents, has failed. Results released Tuesday night by the Oklahoma State Election Board reveal a margin of about 20 points, with 838,666 total votes (almost 60 percent) against the measure to 555,930 total votes (39.8 percent) in favor.
The gist of the proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution was as follows:
The Legislature shall pass no law which abridges the right of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.
From that rather innocuous-sounding language grew a heated debate that generated millions of dollars in advertising money from both sides.
While it might sound from the text like Oklahoma farmers already posses the right to “employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices,” the concluding phrase “compelling state interest” would have made it it exceptionally tough for lawmakers — and other entities like cities or counties — to pass regulations on agricultural industries in the state.
SQ 777 was one of this election cycle’s most heated campaigns, with experienced operatives and politicians on both sides losing their cool on social media. The pro-777 side even launched personal attacks against opponents, and both groups tried to claim the support of Oklahoma family farmers.
Since October of 2015, NonDoc has published several articles and letters regarding the contentious bill. Given that the conservative lobbying group American Legislative Exchange (ALEC) originally authored template language for similar legislation in 1996, critics have questioned the motive for outside groups to amend the Oklahoma Constitution.
Meanwhile, supporters of the measure touted the 777’s ability to protect family farms by enshrouding agricultural practices in ironclad law.