The Oklahoma State Senate will consider a bill Tuesday to allow Oklahoma to sell some farmland it owns to Oklahoma-based agribustans.
The move comes as farmers in rural Oklahoma are battling drought and rising water bills.
The bill was proposed last month by Sen. Tim Moore, R-Lincoln, but died last week when it failed in a vote of 24-17.
The bill would allow a state agency to sell off some of its land in Oklahoma that could then be used for agricultural production.
The agency would be able to use the land to cultivate crops and grow vegetables.
The state Department of Agriculture would own the land.
Moore said the agency would use the proceeds to purchase farmland in the state.
The agriculture secretary would be responsible for approving the purchase of farmland and paying for the land, Moore said.
The agency would need to sell at least 50% of the land before it can be used.
The land could also be sold to a company for the purpose of manufacturing, Moore told The Associated Press.
“The goal is to make it as economical as possible,” Moore said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
“I don’t want to lose our land.”
The state Agriculture Department could also use the sale proceeds for water conservation, agricultural equipment and other projects, Moore added.
The legislation comes as drought and high water bills in Oklahoma have put farmers in a tough spot.
In June, a state court blocked a $1.5 billion settlement from an Oklahoma farmer, who sued to prevent a sale of his land for agricultural purposes.
The court said the sale violated the state constitution’s protections against eminent domain.
In recent years, the drought has forced many farmers to seek other ways to survive, like selling their land.
The drought has also been a financial drain on the state’s coffers.
In the fall of 2016, the state of Oklahoma announced it was halting all state-owned agricultural land purchases in response to an increasing water shortage in Oklahoma.
That included about 1,000 acres in the north central part of the state, where drought has led to a drop in water levels.