Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The right to harm

 A nasty piece of legislation passed the Oklahoma house and senate recently. Question 777, misleadingly named the right to farm bill. This question is slated to go on the ballots for Oklahoma voters in 2016.
 The right to farm, this sounds fair doesn't it? It doesn't sound so good  when you read the fine print and understand what this is really all about, and what it's real objective is. 
 Question 777 wants to amend the Oklahoma state constitution so that no changes or regulations can ever be imposed on the farming or ranching industry in the state. Basically this will give the farm bureau, along with the department of agriculture, free reign to do anything they want within the state under the guise of farming or ranching. The vaguely worded question 777 doesn't leave anything off the table, anything that falls under the farm bureau or dept. of agriculture is fair game for them to do as they please. How would you all like to see Oklahoma's land taken over by huge corporate "farms"? Ever seen a factory hog farm? They are utterly disgusting. These corporations would be free to run these so called farms in any way they please. This means goodbye to the small independent farmer. The guy I see selling homegrown potatoes from the back of his truck, how will he compete with the likes of Monsanto ? The ranchers who maintain modest herds of cattle won't have a chance against the huge unregulated factory farms. Of course there won't be any restriction or regulation of pollution that might come from these giants, whether it is in our water, land or air, it's part of "the right to farm" and laws can't be imposed to regulate it. These giant "farming" corporations would be free to use Oklahoma's  resources any way they want. Are people really ok with that?
 Now, let's talk about what is really at the heart of this initiative. Animal rights activists. Oklahoma, in general, has such a deep hatred for animal rights activists that they would pass a dangerous piece of legislation like this just to keep these activists from the state. To a point I can understand this, animal rights activists can get pretty extreme and animals do have a place in the farming and ranching industry. However, on the other side of that coin, Oklahoma does have a lot of issues around the humane treatment of animals that need attention. Without the activists bringing these issues to light, they would never change. If this measure passes it's unlikely we will ever see the end of gas chamber "euthanasia" in the state.  Without any oversight, puppy mills will flourish. Animals  will be freely available for scientific research. We will never see the desperately needed shelter reform or increased access to shelters. What is so "extreme" about any of this?
 In Oklahoma, pretty much anything animal related falls under the department of agriculture. The same department working so hard to push this legislation into law. For a state that prides itself on strong Christian values, the principles  of helping and caring, the "Oklahoma standard" certainly doesn't extend to the animals of the state.
 A vote for issue 777 will be a huge setback for the state. The potential harm that could be done if this becomes law, is truly frightening. It's time for Oklahoma to drop the "us against them" mentality, join the 21st century and start improving the quality of life for ALL its residents.