The Oklahoma Farm Bureau supports an amendment to the state constitution to protect the farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma, said Mark Yates, director of field operations for public policy with the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

State Question 777 or the Right to Farm will be on the state ballot in November. Yates wants voters to be informed about SQ777 when they cast their ballots in November.

Let the market drive farmers and ranchers, he said.

Hannah Nemecek, director of public policy communications, said the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture would still be able to regulate farms and ranches in the state under SQ77.

Legislation was passed in California two years ago to change the dimensions of chicken cages after a group lobbied the state legislature to allow the chickens more room. California farmers realized after the bill passed that it would be more cost effective to take two chickens from their cages and redo the cages’ dimensions, Yates said.

“What California experienced was the production of eggs went down by half and the cost of those eggs rose almost by 40 percent,” Yates said.

The result of additional regulations has caused more Californians to purchase imported eggs, he added. Now Californians are imposing regulations on imported eggs because they were losing money. This means Oklahoma egg exports to California would need to be raised in the same environment as in California to prevent harm to California’s economy, Yates explained.

Additional legislation was passed in Hawaii mandating all food production to be free of genetic modification. Yates said there is no scientific proof that genetically modified food has ever harmed humans.

“But there’s a lot of people out there that like to throw around scare tactics and say GMOs are bad for you,” Yates said.

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau supports SQ777 to prevent Oklahoma from being regulated by burdensome “feel-good legislation,” Yates continued.

“There’s no evidence to support the fact that chickens felt better because their cage is bigger,” he said.

All existing state farming and ranching regulations, policies and statutes shall remain on the books with the passage of SQ777, Yates said.  

“We see it as a consumer choice bill,” Yates said.

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau is supportive of Edmond consumers who already have the freedom as to whether or not purchase all organic eggs, nongenetically-modified eggs, or other eggs regulated by Oklahoma law.

“We don’t want this feel-good legislation to regulate the marketplace,” Yates said.

He pointed out that 26 percent of all Oklahoma children are food insecure. They go to bed at night not knowing where their next meal is coming from, he said.

“The last thing we want to see is this feel-good legislation come in and make food less affordable for families,” he said.

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