On 12th June 2024, Oklahoma’s Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law a measure that gives chicken farmers “immunity” from prosecution for polluting Oklahoma waterways. Senate Bill 1424 stipulates that if companies or farmers are following state laws, they cannot be sued, even if their actions cause environmental harm. However, the pollution of chicken waste while not following safety guidelines will be a misdemeanour with a fine of no less than $500/day or more than $10,000/day. 

In 2005, Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a suit against 13 poultry companies and subsidiaries for improper litter disposal, but this type of suit will no longer be possible now the new law has been passed. In 2023, US District Judge Gregory Frizzell in Tulsa ruled that Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. and other companies polluted the Illinois River, caused a public nuisance, and trespassed by spreading manure on land in eastern Oklahoma.

This is not the first time the governor has shown his support for the exploitation of and cruelty to chickens. He recorded a video that played at a rally on 12th November 2023 in which he showed support for the cockfighting community and signalled he would support their efforts in the upcoming legislative session. He also stated that the Oklahoma Game Foul Commission brings an exciting sport to the state. He said in the video “We need to protect the thousands of game foul farmers in Oklahoma and lift our rural and municipal economies.” It is currently a felony to engage in cockfighting in the state, but the cockfighting fraternity is trying to change this. 

With this political landscape, it is not surprising that Oklahoma is one of the least vegan-friendly states in the US. Using the year’s data from Yelp, HappyCow and the US Census Bureau, US states were ranked in 2022 for their highest score of vegan-friendliness in terms of the amount of fully vegan restaurants per capita, and Oklahoma turned out to be at the bottom.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.