Farm Bureau seeks ‘Right to farm’ Amendment

An Oklahoma farm leader would like the Legislature to consider a constitutional protection amendment for farmers, following what voters in North Dakota did in this month’s elections when they approved a right to farm amendment in their state constitution.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling likes the idea.

“I’m really interested in doing that,” he said when asked by The McCarville Report about the North Dakota constitutional amendment that guarantees the right of farmers to take part in modern agriculture. 

The measure arose from attacks by animal rights activists and those fighting modern applications of technology and chemicals in growing crops. The amendment also bars any law that would limit their right to use agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.  “We have a tremendous concern in the state for the protection of our producers,”added Spradling.

Oklahoma already has a livestock preemption law that was signed by Governor Brad Henry in 2009. Under the law, the State Agriculture Department is responsible for enforcing a uniform standard for the care and handling of livestock. But the three-year old Oklahoma law does not apply to any modern application to crops. In other words, the law protects North Dakota farmers from social movements that are fighting genetically modified crops or food ingredients.

Spradling, who wants to meet with other statewide farm leaders such as those representing the Farmers Union and the American Farmers and Ranchers, thinks it’s a case of rural versus urban.

“We have to educate people about the practices we employ,” he explained. “We’re being told that by 2050, we’ll see a 34 percent increase in the world’s population and there’ll be a worldwide demand for twice as much agricultural production.”

The rancher from Sand Springs believes the use of technology will have to be used to achieve the goal….technology that will develop plants that will use less water. “American farmers will be asked to do more as the population increases.”

Spradling thinks the prospect of introducing a measure in the legislature won’t be difficult. “I don’t think we’ll have a bit of a problem getting a friendly legislator.”