The Oklahoma Senate passed three beef-related bills back-to-back with unanimous votes May 12. The Legislature has resumed activity following the Covid-19 recess, but only to pass the SFY2021 budget and hear a select number of bills. All three beef bills were selected for the limited docket.

“The Legislature’s decision to include three beef bills in a very limited docket, and senators’ unanimous approval, shows how urgent cattle industry issues are right now,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “I commend legislative leadership for recognizing the strain on Oklahoma’s cattle producers and prioritizing legislation that may give them additional marketing options in the future.”

Blubaugh also voiced recognition and gratitude for the lawmakers that authored the bills and pushed for the legislation to be heard.

“We have ranchers at the Capitol that want to help our industry,” Blubaugh said. “We’re grateful for their representation and pleased to be able to congratulate them on this bipartisan victory.”

Rep. Ty Burns (R-35) noted how visible Oklahoma’s cattle industry is to lawmakers right now and the timeliness of his Oklahoma Certified Beef bill.

“There’s definitely a lot of talk about Oklahoma beef and its producers at the state Capitol,” Burns said. “With the crisis going on, there’s no better time than now to pass this bill to promote Oklahoma beef. It’s a win-win for producers in the state of Oklahoma. It’s something we can build on in the future to promote and protect Oklahoma producers and Oklahoma beef.”

The Oklahoma Certified Beef bill (HB 3963), sponsored by Burns and Sen. Casey Murdock (R-27) was one of the three bills passed unanimously. The legislation defines Oklahoma certified beef as any bovine product “bred, born, raised and slaughtered” within the state of Oklahoma. The legislation could pave the way for an Oklahoma Certified Beef Program in the near future. Gov. Stitt is expected to promptly sign the bill into law.

“The creation of additional marketing options for our state’s ranchers is extremely important right now,” Blubaugh said. “Not only is this a great first step to another marketing option, but it also reminds us that we have the power to create additional outlets for our product. The more flexibility we can provide our cattle producers, the stronger our state’s cattle industry will be.”

HB 3806, a bill sponsored by Rep. Toni Hasenbeck (R-65) and Sen. Michael Bergstrom (R-01), creates the Oklahoma Meat Consumer Protection Act, which relates to the prohibition of deceptive practices in advertising and selling meat to consumers. It cleared the Senate with a unanimous vote and is expected to be promptly signed into law by Gov. Stitt.

HB2008, a bill sponsored by Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-19) and Sen. David Bullard (R-06), would increase the ability of Oklahoma producers to market and sell beef and bison through intrastate commerce. It passed the Senate with a unanimous vote, but still needs to pass the House before close of session.

AFR/OFU Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR/OFU provides educational, legislative and cooperative programs across the state and serves as a watchdog for Oklahoma’s family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. The organization is actively supportive of the state’s agricultural industry and rural population with membership consisting of farmers actively involved in production agriculture and non-farmers adding their voice in support of AFR/OFU principles.