Protecting the rights of rural Oklahomans
By Rep. Casey Murdock
Rural Oklahoma is losing legislative seats because of population shifts to urban areas, but rural interests still must be protected.
One such interest is farming. Small family farms in rural areas make up the bulk of farming operations in Oklahoma. They put bread, milk, eggs, vegetables and more on our tables. They do business the way their families have done business for generations. Yet, some organizations, such as the Human Society of the United States (HSUS), want to add legislation onto the small farmer that makes it incredibly hard to maintain this profession that has been the backbone of rural society since God planted a garden in Eden.
Small, rural farmers have a harder time absorbing new regulations than corporate farms that have greater flexibility in adapting.
There are many examples from around the country of excessive regulations and the potential they have to hurt the Oklahoma farmer.
Take for example the California egg market. An article in Modern Farmer explains the problem. For years, the HSUS has pushed for California egg farmers to build “bigger, kinder cages for egg-laying hens.”
In 2008, California voters passed a law to meet the requirements. But then, California lawmakers realized the fly in the ointment: the law put their state egg farmers at a disadvantage. They had to absorb the prohibitive cost of upgrading all of their facilities while out-of-state producers weren’t burdened by the same regulations, allowing them to sell eggs in the state at a cheaper price.
In order to keep California egg farmers in business, the law was expanded to cover all eggs sold in the state and later a federal judge decided producers from other states had to comply. So now, egg producers around the country are scrambling to rebuild facilities to supply the eggs from 20 million chickens that Californians eat each day. The result: a possible egg shortage in California and higher prices while other markets face oversaturation and depressed prices. As one person quoted in this article points out, this leaves the farmer in a world of hurt.
This is just one examples of overregulation that has the potential to hurt family farmers.
HSUS has been marching across the county pushing their agenda one state at a time. We have to stop them here in Oklahoma. Agriculture is one of the main drivers of our economy and we have to insure that our farmers and ranchers are allowed to use the practices that have made them successful for generations.
The bottom line is this is an issue of freedom. The government doesn’t need to intervene in our daily lives with excessive regulations. As long as I’m at the state Capitol, I’ll fight against this kind of overreach.