Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oklahoma votes against creating a constitutional right to farm and ranch

One of the more unusual items on the ballot yesterday was defeated yesterday.

It would have applied strict scrutiny to laws related to farming and agriculture. The laws would have to demonstrate a compelling purpose purpose in order to be sustained.

- Click here for Ballotpedia's detail on the proposal.
Amendment design
State Question 777, which was placed on the ballot by the Oklahoma Legislature, was designed to require courts to rule on any law regulating farming and agriculture passed after December 31, 2014, by employing "strict scrutiny." This means that courts would have to overturn any challenged agricultural or livestock regulations that are not necessary for protecting a “compelling state interest.” This would make any law restricting or regulating the farming industry in the state more vulnerable to lawsuits, which would likely result in fewer government regulations over the industry.
In other words, State Question 777 was designed to require the courts to apply the same standards to lawsuits concerning agriculture and livestock as in cases concerning free speech, gun ownership, and religious freedom.
Arguments of supporters and opponents
Supporters argue that State Question 777 would allow farmers to defend themselves against unjust laws or laws that would harm the industry, make the state more attractive to farmers, and allow consumers to decide best farming practices through free market competition.
Opponents argue that State Question 777 would be used to prevent the state and local governments from passing laws to protect small farmers and provide reasonable regulations regarding food and water quality, environmental protections, and animal cruelty. They claim the amendment would give large, corporate farms an advantage over small, local farms.

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