Right-To-Farm Tulsa Town Hall Meeting Draws Dozens

Monday, March 28th 2016, 10:54 pm
By: News On 6

People gathered at a town hall meeting Monday to discuss the future of farming in Oklahoma.

State Question 777 on the November ballot is designed to protect farmers and ranchers from over-regulation, but some at the town hall asked if it’s actually about the right to farm, or the right to harm.

About 100 people showed up to learn more about the proposal. Supporters said it protects the state's agriculture industry from too much regulation, but opponents said regulation can actually be good.

Scissortail Farms is a greenhouse in west Tulsa that grows leafy greens using hydroponics. Co-founder John Sulton said he got into farming because he cares about where food comes from and what people are eating.

That's why he said he supports food regulation, and why he's wary of the Right-To-Farm proposal.

"I think it sounds great on the surface in the name, but it stops there. We really believe in food safety and putting a lot of practices in that; a lot of people have put a lot of thought and time into, and continue to," he said.

Supporters of the bill, including John Collison and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said Right-To-Farm would protect farmers from unnecessary rules and regulations that could hurt business.

"We went to the legislative body last year and asked them to put this, as a state question, to a vote of the people, to protect Oklahomans. Not just agriculture, but consumers," Collison said.

The proposal wants to add phrases like, "The rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state," to the state constitution.

Monday, at a town hall meeting in Tulsa, speakers talked about the dangers of giving agriculture so much power.

Sulton said customer safety and health should be top priority. If that means more regulations, he said, then so be it.

"We're a farm. Sure, we're a business, but at the end of the day it's all about the people who are eating our products, and they need to be safe," he said.

States like Missouri and North Dakota have already passed similar Right-To-Farm laws.