Every state has a “right-to-farm” law on the books to protect farmers from being sued by their neighbors for the routine smells and sounds created by farming operations. But this year, the agriculture industry has been pushing in several states to amend those laws so that they will effectively prevent neighbors from suing farms at all — even massive industrial livestock operations.
Cattle producers in Oklahoma lost $26 million in stock, fencing, and facilities to wildfires during April, estimated Derrell Peel, a livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.
Kansas will reap its smallest winter wheat crop since 1989 and neighboring Oklahoma will harvest half of its usual total because of a months-long drought in the Plains, crop scouts said on Thursday after touring the winter wheat belt.
Big Ag is back on the offensive in Oklahoma, less than a year after voters defeated a bill that would have stripped the state’s residents of their ability to regulate corporate farming. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to pay an additional $1 tax per head of cattle sold in the state, and will hold a Nov. 1 vote on the tax for Oklahoma cattle producers. Family farm advocates say that much of the money collected under such checkoff taxes is funneled to private industry groups that use it to promote the interests of corporate agriculture over independent farmers.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent 43 days out of a 92-day stretch from March to May in Oklahoma or traveling between his home state and Washington, according to a group of former EPA officials. "Based on congressional requests and a hotline complaint," the EPA inspector general's office said it will investigate Pruitt's frequent trips, reported the Oklahoman.
The industry-led Oklahoma Energy Resource Board has spent $50 million since the 1990s training the state's K-12 teachers to teach a science and math curriculum that critics claim is more industry promotion that real education.
Confirmed by a 52-48 Senate roll call, Scott Pruitt begins his first workday as EPA administrator today with plans to address agency employees at midday. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times and was a leading opponent of its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, a regulation that is reviled by farm groups who want to see it ditched.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt put "the brakes" on state pursuit of a water-pollution suit against poultry processors, said the New York Times in describing how Pruitt "will have the opportunity to engineer a radical shift" in federal policy if he is confirmed as EPA administrator.
One-third of the land growing winter wheat is in drought territory, triple the portion that was affected two months ago, says USDA's Ag in Drought report. Dry conditions are a threat to establishment — and potential yields — of the crop, which is planted in the fall, lies dormant during the winter and is harvested in the spring.
The proposed right-to-farm amendment to Oklahoma's constitution "was a little bit of a gamble and the gamble didn't pay off" in the view of agribusiness professor Derrell Peel of Oklahoma State University, says AgWeb. Voters rejected the amendment by a 3-to-2 margin in a rebuff of the farm and ranch sector last week.