A state question seeking to enshrine the rights of farmers and ranchers in the state constitution will stay on the ballot, according to an opinion released Monday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Lawmakers put State Question 777 — dubbed “Right to Farm” by supporters and “Right to Harm” by critics — on the Nov. 8 ballot.SQ 777 would add a section to the Oklahoma Constitution that would create a constitutional right to engage in farming and ranching. It would protect the use of agricultural technology, livestock procedures and ranching practices. If approved by voters, it would make it more difficult to pass laws regulating the agriculture industry.
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. 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.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from groups that challenged Wyoming laws prohibiting trespassing on private lands to collect data. Groups including the Western Watersheds Project, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Press Photographers Association sued Wyoming last year. The groups claimed state laws prohibiting trespassing to collect data were unconstitutional. The groups said the laws, which allowed both civil penalties and criminal prosecution, would block people from informing government regulators about such things as violations of water quality rules and illegal treatment of animals.U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl of Casper dismissed the groups' lawsuit Wednesday, ruling there's no constitutional right to trespass on private lands.
"The ends, no matter how critical or important to a public concern, do not justify the means, violating private property rights," Skavdahl wrote.Skavdahl last winter expressed concerns about earlier versions of the laws, which the Wyoming Legislature had passed early last year. The earlier versions sought to prohibit collection of data on "open lands," a term Skavdahl said could be stretched to cover more than just private property.In response to Skavdahl's criticism, the Wyoming Legislature earlier this year revised the laws to specify they only applied to trespassing to collect data on private lands.Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead on Thursday said he was pleased with Skavdahl's dismissal of the groups' lawsuit."There has been a lot of misinformation about the intent of this law," Mead said. "The judge's ruling affirms that the issue at the heart of the matter is preserving private property rights — a fundamental right in our country."
This November, Oklahoma voters will have a chance to decide on the fate of the state’s agricultural industry. State Question 777 would add a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution relating to farming and ranching. Essentially, SQ 777 would guarantee the right to engage in specific farming and ranching practices. The “Right to Farm,” measure would add a new section to create state constitutional rights protecting the following farm and ranch management practices including: • The right to make use of agricultural technology, • The right to make use of livestock procedures, and • The right to make use of ranching practices.
Dupont and Bayer AG have teamed up to invest in a new fund that will back agricultural technology startups, becoming the latest companies to pile into the multibillion-dollar industry as farm profits shrink. The two chemical and seed companies along with venture capital firm Finistere Ventures and two others have launched a $15 million accelerator fund, called Radicle, that will back early-stage agricultural-tech companies. Of the $15 million, $6 million has been initially committed but the fund did not identify which companies would receive the monies. While small in size, it marks the second time DuPont's investment arm has taken a stake in the ag-tech arena since launching in 2003, according to fund officials.
It began on a whim: a challenge from a friend to branch out into politics and run for office. It blossomed into a decade-long career of fighting for local farmers, statewide education funding and mental health provisions for prisoners. Now Tara A. Sad, of Cheshire House District 1, is readying her exit from New Hampshire politics. The Democratic representative from Walpole won’t run for re-election to the statehouse. For Sad, political enthusiasm has never been in short supply. Over five terms in the House, she built a career characterized by strong support for local agriculture initiatives and a steady opposition to suburbanization of New Hampshire farmland. That passion paid off, vaulting Sad to the chairmanship of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee in 2011 and later its ranking member. It helped her establish a rapport across the aisle as a willing negotiator with principles, and it endeared her to her constituents along the Connecticut River, delivering her five elections with comfortable voting margins.
While minorities have made some political gains in recent decades, they remain significantly underrepresented in Congress and nearly every state legislature though they comprise a growing share of the U.S. population, according to an analysis of demographic data by The Associated Press. The disparity in elected representation is especially large for Hispanics, even though they are now the nation's largest ethnic minority. A lack of political representation can carry real-life consequences, and not only on hot-button immigration issues. State spending for public schools, housing and social programs all can have big implications for minority communities. So can decisions on issues such as criminal justice reform, election laws or the printing of public documents in other languages besides English. When the people elected don't look, think, talk or act like the people they represent, it can deepen divisions that naturally exist in the U.S.
There’s no doubt trade is critically important to the agricultural economy, particularly in places such as Manitoba where the productivity of farmers far exceeds the appetite of the resident population. As the province’s Minister of Agriculture Ralph Eichler pointed out Tuesday in his presentation to the Senate committee studying agricultural trade, two-thirds of the food products manufactured in Manitoba leave the province. Improved market access and fair trade rules are important. However, a recent discussion paper released by agricultural economists with the University of Guelph highlights just how complex achieving that has become in world vastly different from the one envisaged when the first big agricultural deal was negotiated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1995.
Bayer AG’s bid to buy Monsanto Co. for more than $60 billion has hit an impasse that could pose a challenge for the blockbuster agriculture tie-up. Bayer has offered to buy the U.S. seed giant for $62 billion including debt, or $122 a share, which Monsanto last month rejected as too low.
North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms. Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351. The law, signed into law in March 2015 by Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple, exempted dairy and swine production from the state's Depression-era corporate farming prohibition. The North Dakota Farmers Union and other groups that collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot said family farmers cannot compete with large agricultural firms with no ties to the communities where they operate. Supporters of the bill argued that dairy and pork operations are on the decline in the state and cannot survive without corporations that can finance expensive equipment and compete regionally, according to the Yes for Dairies & Pork Producers website. This February, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction barring Nebraska officials from enforcing the state's ban on farmland ownership by corporations. The referendum was the only measure on the state's primary ballot, which was dominated by a Republican fight for the governor's office. In the Republican primary for governor, Doug Burgum defeated North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, results on the state's election website showed.