EL RENO—American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative hosted National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew on a tour of Southwest Oklahoma Nov. 10. The tour showcased the area’s agriculture and provided an opportunity for AFR/OFU leadership and Larew to visit one-on-one with area producers.

Following a brief visit to Oklahoma National Stockyards and breakfast at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse with Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, the AFR/OFU-NFU tour headed to Southwest Oklahoma for the remainder of the day.

First up was Apache Seed & Supply, a diversified crop operation that produces forage and cover crop seed, as well as commodity and contract grains. The no-till operation uses no irrigation and relies on capturing and retaining rainfall to provide moisture for crops. While touring the facility, owner Alan Mindeman, Larew and AFR/OFU President Scott Blubaugh discussed issues surrounding seed production in southwest Oklahoma, such as potential regulatory concerns and the increasing need to control feral hog populations. They also talked about the seed operation’s noticeable increase in demand, as well as the demand shift toward cover crop mixes.

The AFR/OFU-NFU tour group next visited the Fort Cobb Locker Plant, a mom-and-pop state inspected meat processing facility. While in Fort Cobb, the group met with area producers over lunch. During the gathering, Larew spoke to attending farmers and ranchers about the continuing need in government for friends of agriculture. He voiced concern over in-fighting in the agriculture community and addressed the ever-present industry consolidation question. He also covered more specific issues such as pesticide application and direct marketing opportunities and concerns.

Following the luncheon, the AFR/OFU-NFU tour group visited the Farmers Cooperative Mill and Elevator near Carnegie. President of the mill’s board Barry Squires led the group on a detailed tour, covering important aspects of a modern cotton mill and changes over time in milling.

The next tour stop was Lasley Family Farm, a peanut operation that direct markets value-added peanut products to consumers. The Lasley operation is fully integrated, growing and processing the peanuts that go into the farm’s sweet treats and peanut snacks.

The final stop of the Southwest Oklahoma tour was Redlands Community College in El Reno for the Oklahoma Rural and Small-Town Table of Common Interests’ Consolidation in the Beef Industry. Speakers at the event were Larew, Blubaugh and beef market analyst Corbitt Wall.  Former Oklahoma Governor David Walters and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey also addressed the group.

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.