Drew Edmondson would not want the vote over State Question 777 held today. But in a month, he and other opponents are ready to finish their fight: “We’ll continue our work against 777 and by Nov. 8, I believe a majority will see that this proposal is not in the state’s interest.”
Organizations from both Democrat and Republican parties agree with him.
Edmondson, the former state attorney general from Muskogee who led restrictions against excessive poultry litter application in Oklahoma, said in an interview with MuskogeeNOW.com that he was against the so-called “Right to Farm Bill” from the first.
“When I saw 777 come along, I knew I would be against it,” Edmondson said. “I fought a lot of battles to protect the state’s water from hog farm spillage and poultry litter application in Eastern Oklahoma.”
Edmondson said 777 has the capability of undoing the work that he and others concerned about water quality have accomplished, as well as cause other harm to Oklahomans. He said that this law could potentially allow corporations to employ new herbicides, pesticides and genetically altered organisms, and the state would be next to helpless in regulating those uses.
“We don’t know what will be done in the future, and we would not be able to regulate those things that might come along,” he said.
Proponents of SQ777 have called the amendment proposal the Right to Farm, touting it as protection for small family farms. But Edmondson said everyone already has an inherent right to farm in Oklahoma and there are adequate laws now protecting farms and farmers, including protection from nuisance lawsuits.
Edmondson also discounts the claim that SQ777 originated with small farm operators.
“It’s totally sponsored by big corporations,” Edmondson said, adding that their interest is in creating unregulated oversight of huge industrial farms, not protecting any rights of small family farmers.
“We would be powerless to react with any new regulations” to the practices of huge corporate farms, Edmondson said. The proposal also could overturn any farming legislation approved since Dec. 31, 2014, and Edmondson said there has been important legislation passed since then.
Last week, the presidents of the Cherokee County Republican and Democratic Women organizations signed a joint resolution against SQ777. Ed Brocksmith, a founding member of Save The Illinois River, said the signing was significant, and praised the women for their vision and action.
“STIR has a long-standing position of protection for the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake,” Brocksmith said. “We will oppose anything that prevents us from demanding accountability in those watersheds.”
For more on opposition to SQ777 go to www.votenoon777.com/ and this PDF.
You can read David Gerard’s writings and see more of his drawings at DavidGerardArt.com.