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Oklahoma Voters Crush Deceptive, Overreaching “Right to Harm” Power Grab

Animal advocates and family farmers are celebrating the defeat of Oklahoma’s State Question 777, with more than 60 percent of voters opposing the measure. Despite a multi-million dollar campaign by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and other corporate factory farming interests, Oklahoma voters across rural, urban and suburban areas of the state saw through the measure and rejected this power grab.

State Question 777 was referred to the ballot by politicians seeking to amend the state constitution with a so-called “right to farm.” It would have protected corporate interests and foreign-owned big agribusiness at the expense of Oklahoma’s family farmers, land and animals, and prevented local communities from passing laws to protect clean water and public health. The measure was so broadly worded that it could have prevented future restrictions on any “agricultural” practice, including puppy mills, horse slaughter and raising gamefowl for cockfighting. In the end, former governors Brad Henry, Frank Keating and David Walters, along with four-term Attorney General Drew Edmondson, opposed the measure.  Cities and counties across Oklahoma also urged defeat of the measure, along with the Inter-Tribal Council of Five Civilized Tribes.

“We are grateful to Oklahoma voters for standing against factory farming and against an abuse of power,” said Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “No industry is above the law or should have special rights, and voters sent that message clearly to corporate agriculture.”

The HSUS and its coalition partners were successful in banning cockfighting in Oklahoma by ballot initiative more than a decade ago, despite the opposition by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. With tonight’s defeat of “right to farm,” animal advocates have won all the ballot measures they’ve fought in the Sooner State.

Also tonight, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3, to ban the extreme confinement of farm animals in small crates and cages, and the sale of products from confined animals, sending a separate, strong message to the factory farming industry across the country. Voters approved that measure with 78 percent support, winning in nearly all of the 312 towns and 39 cities in the state.

 

Media Contact: Anna West: 240-751-2669; awest@humanesociety.org