MIAMI, OKLA.—American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative hosted National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew on a tour of Northern Oklahoma Nov. 11. 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.
The AFR/OFU-NFU began Wednesday’s tour at Blubaugh Angus Ranch near Tonkawa. In addition to crops, the family operation produces purebred Angus cattle and direct markets beef. During the visit, AFR/OFU President Scott Blubaugh and Larew discussed challenges and opportunities in the purebred cattle sector. They also covered the cattle industry concentration concerns, as well as future conservation opportunities for Oklahoma’s producers.
While in Tonkawa, the AFR/OFU-NFU tour group met with area producers over lunch. During the gathering, Larew spoke to attending farmers and ranchers about the continuing need to work together and highlighted the bipartisan nature of agriculture issues. He also talked about potential legislative appointments and the next Farm Bill with one specific request to producers that they voice what’s working or not working on their operations. Essentially, voicing praises and concerns can help guide the direction of future legislation.
Larew also talked at length about the current farm stress issue and emphasized his belief that America’s farmers and ranchers are resilient and can rise to meet current challenges. He assured producers that Farmers Union would be there to help wherever possible, saying “When times are difficult and challenging, that’s when Farmers Union is at its best.”
Following the luncheon, the AFR/OFU-NFU tour group visited Pawhuska to see how the recent tourism influx from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile has benefited the small town. Following a quick tour of Pawhuska, the group headed east to Vinita.
The final agriculture stop of the Northern Oklahoma tour was the Shelton Family Farm in Vinita, home of Sara’s Grassfed Beef. AFR/OFU Board Member Jim Shelton and his wife Sara own the operation, which focuses on limiting environmentally-negative inputs and providing direct-to-consumer quality grassfed beef products.
The AFR/OFU-NFU tour group wrapped up the night with a dinner with area producers. Larew and Blubaugh both addressed the group, highlighting the current lack of rural representation in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The message was clear from both leaders—agriculture must find allies, even if those allies are urban lawmakers, and the industry’s issues are significant enough that bipartisanship is a must. As Larew put it, “In agriculture, we can’t afford to not work across the aisle.”
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.