Appeal Filed to Keep Right-to-Farm Measure Off Oklahoma Ballot

July 14, 2016 05:00 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Attorneys for opponents of Oklahoma's so-called "Right to Farm" ballot initiative have filed an appeal to try to keep the measure off the statewide ballot in November.

Attorney Heather Hintz tells The Oklahoman that an accelerated appeal was filed in hopes that the state Supreme Court will take up the case before an August deadline for the Oklahoma Election Board to print the November ballot.

"We are asking the Supreme Court to retain the appeal because it's a matter of public importance that has widespread public impact," Hintz said.

Nonprofit organization Save The Illinois River Inc., state Rep. Jason Dunnington and two private citizens filed a lawsuit in March challenging State Question 777, the "Right to Farm and Ranch Amendment." They say the measure, which would prevent lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate agriculture, is unconstitutional.

Opponents have said the measure could allow large farming corporations to set state agricultural policy instead of voters and their elected representatives.

Supporters have said the amendment would prevent animal rights groups from changing agriculture practices.

The lawsuit was dismissed in May.

State Rep. Scott Biggs authored a bill to get State Question 777 on the November ballot. Biggs said he believes the measure will protect Oklahoma farmers from restrictive laws.

"The lawsuit was nothing but a stunt by special interests to keep Oklahomans from having a voice, and this appeal is trying to do the same thing," Biggs said.

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