Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ag Perspective: For SQ777

A few weeks ago, I reached out to two individuals who work in the agriculture sector to get opposing views on State Question 777, the Oklahoma Right to Farm Amendment. Both grew up in farm/ranch families, and continue to work in farming and ranching today.

This morning, Kenny Bob Tapp presented his arguments against SQ777, and this afternoon we hear from Jessica Sheffield-Wilcox arguing in favor of SQ777. My thanks to both of them for participating in this discussion.


Vote Yes on SQ 777, for Oklahoma’s Right To Farm
A Farmer's Perspective
by Jessica Sheffield-Wilcox

November 8th, 2016, Oklahomans have the chance to secure their freedom of food choice. State Question 777 (SQ 777), the Right to Farm bill, will protect Oklahoma’s farm family’s way of life and will allow every Oklahoman access to safe, affordable, abundant food. Right to Farm is not a Democrat vs Republican issue, but it is a chance for all Oklahomans to unite for the right to choose whatever food fits their current and future need.

SQ 777 is not retroactive, and it will not change any existing federal or state laws. SQ 777 will not allow foreign corporations to buy up farmland. In fact, it is illegal for foreign corporations to own production agriculture land in Oklahoma. Right to Farm will not allow our rivers and lakes to be polluted. Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers are among the top in the nation in voluntary measures taken to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff. [*1]

Farmers and Ranchers are consumers. We shop at the same grocery stores, buying our fruit, vegetables, and other staples just like everyone else. As consumers, we want choices. State Question 777 gives us a choice, so myself, or someone on a fixed budget can enjoy great food for the normal 9-10% of our budget, or the next person in line can enjoy spending 30% or more of their expendable income on their food choices for boutique labels.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the same group in trouble for raising thousands of dollars for “animal rescue” after the Moore tornado a few years ago, then using less than 1% for helping animals in need here in Oklahoma [*2][*3], is the main supporter for the opposition of SQ 777. HSUS has retained former Attorney General and failed gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson as their hired gun. Pushing their liberal agenda, Edmondson and the Kirkpatrick Foundation seek to hamstring Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers and are lining their pockets with HSUS’s ill-gotten funds under the guise of benevolent environmental warriors and champions of the small farmer.

Many have asked why do we need SQ 777? We need SQ 777 now due to our society being further removed from the farm with every generation. Few understand what it takes to grow a crop or to raise animals for food consumption. Less than 2% of the population farm and ranch, making it easier for extremist organizations like HSUS, PETA, or the Sierra Club to get an urban electorate to vote based on emotions and Chipotle-esque scare tactics instead of sound science. Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers watched as New York, California, and Maine, passed new laws and regulations that increase the cost of production and ultimately increase the cost of food to the end user. SQ 777 would allow Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers to continue to operate using scientifically proven methods, allowing us to continue to set the world standard for food safety and responsible stewardship.

My family has farmed in Muskogee County for several generations. We grow sweet corn for fresh markets, along with soybeans, corn, cattle, wheat, and hay. After obtaining a degree in Plant and Soil Science at Oklahoma State University, I married and moved to Major County where my husband I and grow wheat, beans, canola, grain sorghum, and cattle alongside his parents. His family has been farming in Major County since the Land Run. No one cares more for the land and their animals than a Farmer or Rancher. We understand that healthy, happy animals perform better, and that our water and soil is our legacy for future generations.

Join me in voting to keep the decision making in the hands of those who care the most. Farmers and Ranchers know too well the ramifications of burdensome, emotionally evocative regulations. Stand up for all Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers by voting Yes on State Question 777, for Oklahoma’s Right To Farm.

Respectfully,
Jessica Sheffield-Wilcox
Fairview, OK/Fort Gibson, OK

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