OKLAHOMA CITY—American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) Cooperative is requesting a 30-day extension on the 2021 dicamba application deadline. The current application cut-off dates set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are June 30 for soybeans and July 30 for cotton.

The EPA set the new nationwide cutoff dates for dicamba application last fall, without knowledge of future weather patterns or planting conditions. Now, several states are pushing to expand those application deadlines to accommodate late planting caused by either drought or heavy late spring rainfall, depending on the region. This combination of delayed planting and pre-set application deadlines has caused dicamba to be virtually unusable.

“This is absolutely not the right year to implement new dicamba application cut-off dates,” said AFR President Scott Blubaugh. “Much of the country is experiencing significant drought; the remaining crop production regions have experienced heavy rainfall. Both have played a part in delaying planting of the 2021 soybean and cotton crops. Because of this planting delay, the new EPA deadlines will prevent or severely limit the use of dicamba. Preventing the use of this technology unnecessarily handicaps Oklahoma’s farmers and will certainly reduce their ability to produce a viable crop. It is clear that applying arbitrary deadlines in this year of extremes is a recipe for food insecurity and market instability that could be easily avoided.”

AFR Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR 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 principles.
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OKLAHOMA CITY—Reps. Frank Lucas (OK-03), Tom Cole (OK-04), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) and Stephanie Bice (OK-05) joined 47 other members of Congress in sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland June 8. The letter requests the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) provide an update or final report on its investigation into potential anticompetitive behavior within the beef industry.
The letter joins a growing chorus of cattle producers, industry organizations and lawmakers who are both concerned with the current state of the U.S. beef industry and frustrated about a lack results of the more than yearlong DOJ investigation. This is not the first time Lucas has taken a leadership role on this issue. In May 2020, he led a bipartisan letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting the Agency provide results from its beef pricing investigation.
“We are very pleased four members of our state’s congressional delegation are standing in solidarity with Oklahoma’s ranchers in recognizing the potential for antitrust behavior in the beef industry and calling upon the U.S. Attorney General to continue to take action,” said American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “Rep. Lucas showed a willingness to lead on this issue during the pandemic and we are pleased to see he is continuing to push for answers, along with other members of the Oklahoma delegation asking for DOJ investigation results.”
“Cattle producers nationwide are desperate for answers and they have certainly waited long enough. Reps. Lucas, Cole, Mullin and Bice have shown they understand the severity of the situation and have proven they’re in sync with our state’s cattlemen and cattlewomen. It is time for the rest of the Oklahoma congressional delegation to take note and voice their support for the Oklahoma rancher.”
AFR Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR 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.
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OKLAHOMA CITY—American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) Cooperative is pleased with agriculture sales tax exemption legislation recently passed by the Oklahoma Legislature. Senate Bill 422, authored by Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Springer) and Rep. Dell Kerbs (R-Shawnee), passed the Senate 45-0 May 19 and the House 96-0 May 24.

SB 422 provides clarification and flexibility to farmers and ranchers applying for or renewing an agricultural sales tax exemption permit. Applicants can now qualify for the exemption by providing satisfactory documentation from one of four categories—a federal tax form, such as a
Schedule F, Form 4835, Form 1065, or an equivalent IRS form; a one-page business description form provided by the Oklahoma Tax Commission; a USDA FSA number or program form; or other documents the Oklahoma Tax Commission sees fit to verify involvement in production agriculture.

“Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers are an integral part of our state’s economy; it is essential we foster a regulatory environment that keeps farming operations successful and encourages the next generation of producers,” said AFR President Scott Blubaugh. “Clarifying Oklahoma’s agricultural sales tax exemption process will provide certainty to our producers, while also providing eligibility guidelines for regulators that ensure the ag sales tax exemption is reserved for active farmers and ranchers.”

A coalition of Oklahoma’s agriculture organizations urged passage of SB 422. The bill was considered to be the best option to ensure producers could secure a state agriculture sales tax exemption permit, while also preventing fraud in the sales tax exemption process.

“In today’s challenging legislative environment, I’m pleased to say this bill was championed by the entire agriculture community,” said Blubaugh. “It will help reduce fraud in the agriculture sales tax exemption and create certainty amongst producers and regulators alike. AFR Cooperative is glad to support it.”

AFR Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR 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 principles.
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OKLAHOMA CITY—Gov. Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma Sec. of Agriculture Blayne Arthur penned a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland May 21. The letter expresses support for the ongoing U.S. Dept. of Justice antitrust investigation into the U.S. meatpacking industry. The letter deems the investigation necessary “to determine if any manipulation, collusion, or other illegal activity may be occurring and ensure market transparency.”
“We are extremely grateful to Gov. Stitt and Sec. Arthur for recognizing the potential for antitrust behavior in the beef industry and calling upon the U.S. Attorney General to continue to take action,” said American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “Oklahoma ranchers have been begging for relief from a dysfunctional marketplace. Once again, Gov. Stitt has shown he is in touch with our state’s ranchers and is listening to our concerns.”
The joint letter penned to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland specifically expresses concern over the substantial margins between live cattle and retail beef prices that have widened in recent years, the historic level of consolidation in the meat packing sector, and the minimal level of competition in the marketplace.
The letter states: “If any market manipulation does exist, it is vital for the continuation of the American beef industry that it be identified and fairness in the market be restored.”
“The independent ranchers of our country just want a place in their own industry,” said Blubaugh. “In fact, their very existence hinges on marketplace reform. Gov. Stitt is an entrepreneurial businessman and he certainly recognizes grit. Oklahoma ranchers have a lot of grit; we just need someone to stand on our side.”
The letter to Attorney General Garland addresses a major issue effecting the economic health of one of rural Oklahoma’s largest economic drivers—the beef industry. Ranchers have worried about the gradual consolidation of the meat packing industry for decades, as they have found it increasingly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to conduct business in the black.
“If we lose our independent ranchers, so goes a stable supply of competitively-priced beef for American consumers,” said Blubaugh. “Gov. Stitt clearly recognizes the severity of the situation. This letter is a vote of support for both ranchers and consumers and I could not be more pleased. Thank you, Gov. Stitt and Sec. Arthur, for recognition of the cattle market situation and the vote of support for our industry.”
Gov. Stitt and Sec. Arthur join a growing nationwide chorus of congressional and government leaders calling for further investigation into potential manipulation in the U.S. beef industry. In May 2021 alone, at least 18 members of Congress urged Attorney General Garland to further investigate anticompetitive behavior in the industry.
Today, four meatpackers control more than 80 percent of beef slaughter in the U.S. These “Big Four” companies control such a large percent of the domestic slaughter and processing capacity, they are well positioned to influence the price of both live cattle and retail beef. While concern over consolidation has hovered for decades, market manipulation in the beef industry has been at the forefront of discussion in the last two years.
Two significant market-disrupting events—an August 2019 Tyson processing plant fire and the 2020 Coronavirus processing plant closures—resulted in record-setting price disparity between live cattle and retail beef prices. Ranchers took significant losses on their cattle, consumers paid inflated prices at the grocery store and large meatpackers benefited in between.
In light of this spotlight, both the 2020 and 2021 AFR Cooperative Legislative Policy Special Orders of Business include a demand for proper enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act: “We demand the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act in regard to the anti-trust issues surrounding the packing segment of the beef industry in the United States.”
“Lack of competition in the beef industry has led to an outcry over cattle market issues that is now at a fever pitch,” said Blubaugh. “Our cattlemen and cattlewomen have endured incredible adversity over the past few years. Continual market volatility has taken a toll on our industry and producers need to see action on this issue. Whether or not wrongdoing is discovered, our producers deserve to have their concerns answered. A Dept. of Justice beef antitrust investigation is more than welcome and, in my opinion, results can’t come soon enough.”
As a representative of National Farmers Union and AFR Cooperative and a rancher himself, Blubaugh has become increasingly involved in the cattle market concentration issue. He was one of only 24 people nationwide to participate in a cattle industry summit May 10 in Phoenix, Ariz. The summit convened representatives from six major cattle and rancher industry groups in an effort to find common ground.
“Our nation’s ranchers have become increasingly more desperate for a fair and transparent marketplace and I believe everyone in the room understood that,” Blubaugh said of the summit. “The meeting brought all sides of the cattle business together to work toward solutions. We all know what’s on the line.”
According to a joint press statement, the group reached consensus on three action items to move forward the fight for a more fair cattle market, including a demand that “the Department of Justice issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.”
AFR Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR 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.
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OKLAHOMA CITY—Gov. Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma Sec. of Agriculture Blayne Arthur penned a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland May 21. The letter expresses support for the ongoing U.S. Dept. of Justice antitrust investigation into the U.S. meatpacking industry. The letter deems the investigation necessary “to determine if any manipulation, collusion, or other illegal activity may be occurring and ensure market transparency.”

“We are extremely grateful to Gov. Stitt and Sec. Arthur for recognizing the potential for antitrust behavior in the beef industry and calling upon the U.S. Attorney General to continue to take action,” said American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “Oklahoma ranchers have been begging for relief from a dysfunctional marketplace. Once again, Gov. Stitt has shown he is in touch with our state’s ranchers and is listening to our concerns.”

The joint letter penned to U.S. Attorney General Garland specifically expresses concern over the substantial margins between live cattle and retail beef prices that have widened in recent years, the historic level of consolidation in the meat packing sector, and the minimal level of competition in the marketplace.

The letter states: “If any market manipulation does exist, it is vital for the continuation of the American beef industry that it be identified and fairness in the market be restored.”

“The independent ranchers of our country just want a place in their own industry,” said Blubaugh.  “In fact, their very existence hinges on marketplace reform. Gov. Stitt is an entrepreneurial businessman and he certainly recognizes grit. Oklahoma ranchers have a lot of grit; we just need someone to stand on our side.”

Ranchers have worried about the gradual consolidation of the meat packing industry for decades, as they have found it increasingly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to conduct business in the black. Two significant market-disrupting events—an August 2019 Tyson processing plant fire and the 2020 Coronavirus processing plant closures—resulted in record-setting price disparity between live cattle and retail beef prices. Ranchers took significant losses on their cattle, consumers paid inflated prices at the grocery store and large meatpackers benefited in between.

“If we lose our independent ranchers, so goes a stable supply of competitively-priced beef for American consumers,” said Blubaugh. “Gov. Stitt clearly recognizes the severity of the situation. This letter is a vote of support for both ranchers and consumers and I could not be more pleased. Thank you, Gov. Stitt and Sec. Arthur, for recognition of the cattle market situation and the vote of support for our industry.”

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.

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OKLAHOMA CITY—Five Oklahoma agriculture groups have formed a task force to develop solutions to the issues facing farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses from the exponential growth of the medical marijuana industry across Oklahoma.

The Medical Marijuana Impacts on Oklahoma Production Agriculture Task Force—comprised of American Farmers & Ranchers Cooperative (AFR), Oklahoma Agribusiness Retailers Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council and Oklahoma Farm Bureau—was created to focus on crafting state and federal solutions to the increasing impacts of medical marijuana on production agriculture across Oklahoma.

The task force will review the variety of challenges confronting Oklahoma agriculture and work together to provide policy recommendations to state and federal leaders.

The statewide organizations plan to engage the task force with key stakeholders including other state agriculture organizations, public and private utility providers, members of the Oklahoma Legislature and congressional delegation, and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Statements from the organizations are listed below.

“Many farmers and ranchers have expressed a growing number of issues in their community stemming from the medical marijuana industry. These challenging issues include inflated land values, overwhelming stress to rural water and electric infrastructure, interruptions to critical fertilizer and pesticide applications, and many more.” – Michael Kelsey, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president

“This new task force is designed to foster an opportunity for open dialogue between the leaders of our industry. We will review these ballooning issues and develop recommendations for our state and federal leaders.” – Adam Wood, Oklahoma Agribusiness Retailers Association board chairman

“The Medical Marijuana Impacts on Oklahoma Production Agriculture Task Force represents thousands of agricultural producers across the state. As we respond to the mounting problems the medical marijuana industry is presenting to Oklahoma production agriculture, task force members recognize the immediate need to find solutions. We know the issues are not hypothetical; they’re affecting farmers and ranchers today.” – Scott Blubaugh, AFR Cooperative president

“We look forward to working together to discover and encourage implementation of appropriate solutions. Some common-sense approaches will help manage the disruption impacting Oklahoma farmers, ranchers, cooperatives, and agribusiness.” – Audrey Hofferber, Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council board chair

“Many of our farm and ranch members have shared a variety of challenges that are facing their farms, ranches and communities due to the rapid increase in medical marijuana production in Oklahoma. Farm Bureau is pleased to continue working side by side with our fellow ag organizations to collaboratively find solutions that benefit farmers, ranchers and all Oklahomans.” – Rodd Moesel, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president

“The challenges for Oklahoma’s agriculture producers that have come with the introduction of the medical marijuana industry in our state are numerous. We hear from producers from all areas of Oklahoma that are dealing with the variety of impacts medical marijuana grow facilities are having on their livelihoods and day to day operations. As we continue the discussion to identify answers to these challenges, I appreciate the insight I anticipate this Task Force will provide and the momentum toward solutions it brings.” – Blayne Arthur, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture

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PHOENIX—It’s no secret that the last few years have been a roller coaster ride for cattle ranchers. The Coronavirus pandemic and other disruptive events have wreaked havoc on live cattle markets and left ranchers feeling out of control of their own industry, even as consumers clamor for more American beef.

When the gap between live cattle prices and retail beef prices widened to historic levels in 2019, ranchers across the U.S. cried foul. When it happened again in spring of 2020, they piled even more pressure on lawmakers and industry organizations to address meatpacker concentration issues and what appears to many to be a broken market system.

Legislation has been proposed and industry organizations have come up with various solutions, but it has been difficult for all groups to align behind a unified plan. In an effort to find common ground, member leaders of American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association met May 10 in Phoenix, Ariz. The organizations convened at the request of Livestock Marketing Association.

The Phoenix meeting was a historic event and likely the first of its kind. In an effort to hear directly from ranchers on the front lines of the issue, the meeting was organized in secret and attendance was limited. Each organization sent four representatives, all of which were members or elected officials. No legislative staff or organization employees were allowed to attend.

American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh was chosen to attend the Phoenix meeting as a representative of National Farmers Union (NFU). He was the only Oklahoman included in the event.

“I’m honored to have been included in such a discussion and to be part of the reforms that will ensure independent cattle producers and cattle feeders have a place in their own industry,” said Blubaugh.

Of the meeting itself, Blubaugh was afraid it would be unwelcoming or even hostile, but he was surprised by the atmosphere in the room.

“Lack of competition in the beef industry has led to an outcry over cattle market issues that is now at a fever pitch,” said Blubaugh. “Tensions have been running high lately and I didn’t know what to expect. But, I was pleased by how open we all were. We had a frank, respectful discussion and I was surprised by how much we were able to accomplish.

“The meeting brought all sides of the cattle business together to work toward solutions and that’s what we did. It was clear to me that everyone there has a heart for this industry and the knowledge to back it up. We all know what’s on the line.”

According to a joint press statement released May 17, the unprecedented meeting in Phoenix brought together the diverse set of industry organizations to “discuss challenges involved in the marketing of finished cattle with the ultimate goal of bringing about a more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.” The press statement also claims that “attending organization representatives were pleased to have reached consensus on many issues and are committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a fair and transparent finished cattle marketing system.”

Blubaugh agrees that the groups did find a lot of common ground and even reached consensus on a few points.

“Last week’s historic cattle industry meeting happened because of the dire situation many ranchers have found themselves in,” said Blubaugh. “Our nation’s ranchers have become increasingly more desperate for a fair and transparent marketplace and I believe everyone in the room understood that.”

“Six major players, with differences of opinions and different policies, came together and formally recognized that our producers are in trouble and, in large part, the market system is to blame. Despite our differences, we identified problems and solutions we agree on and have agreed to move forward with what we can. On those items of consensus, we’ll all be marching in the same direction. That’s huge.”

Key takeaways from the joint press statement include topics of discussion, including but not limited to:

  • Packer concentration,
  • Price transparency and discovery,
  • Packer oversight,
  • Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement,
  • Level of captive supply, and
  • Packer capacity.

 

According to the statement, Phoenix meeting attendees agreed to take the following action items to their respective organizations for consideration:

  • Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library.
  • Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.
  • Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers.

For the complete joint statement, visit https://lmaweb.com/press-releases/.

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.

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PHOENIX—National Farmers Union (NFU) recently joined five other national organizations representing cattle producers to agree to work jointly on urgent issues in the cattle marketplace. The organizations convened at the request of Livestock Marketing Association in Phoenix, Ariz., May 10.

This unprecedented meeting brought together diverse producer organizations to identify issues and discuss potential solutions. According to a joint press statement released May 17, attending organization representatives were pleased to have reached consensus on many issues and are committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a fair and transparent finished cattle marketing system.

Member leaders of NFU, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association were included in the historic meeting. American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh served as a representative of NFU. He was the only Oklahoman included in the event.

“Lack of competition in the beef industry has led to an outcry over cattle market issues that is now at a fever pitch as our nation’s ranchers become more desperate for a fair and transparent marketplace,” said Blubaugh. “Last week’s historic cattle industry meeting recognized the dire situation and brought all sides of the cattle business together to work toward solutions.

“Six major players, with differences of opinions and different policies, came together and formally recognized that our system is broken. Despite our differences, we identified problems and solutions we agree on and have agreed to move forward with what we can. I’m honored to be part of such a meeting and to be part of the reforms that will ensure independent cattle producers and cattle feeders have a place in their own industry.”

NFU President Rob Larew also represented the national organization at the meeting and was equally as adamant about the issues facing the cattle industry: “Unfair markets and a lack of competition in the beef industry has been extremely harmful to producers and consumers alike, especially during the last year. Many sectors within agriculture, including beef, are dominated by just a handful of multinational corporations. The time for action is long overdue, and NFU is glad to be a part of this effort to bring strong, swift, and meaningful reform.”

During the meeting, the discussion group talked candidly about a wide range of issues facing the cattle industry. Topics included, but were not limited to:

  • Packer concentration,
  • Price transparency and discovery,
  • Packer oversight,
  • Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement,
  • Level of captive supply, and
  • Packer capacity.

 

The group also agreed to take the following action items to their respective organizations for consideration:

  • Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library.
  • Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.
  • Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers.

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.

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On Monday, May 10, 2021, member leaders of American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association met in Phoenix, Arizona.

These groups convened at the request of the Livestock Marketing Association to discuss challenges involved in the marketing of finished cattle with the ultimate goal of bringing about a more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.

The group talked openly and candidly about a wide range of important issues facing our industry today, including but not limited to:

  • Packer concentration,
  • Price transparency and discovery,
  • Packer oversight,
  • Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement,
  • Level of captive supply, and
  • Packer capacity.

The group also agreed to take to their respective organizations for consideration these action items:

  • Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library.
  • Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.
  • Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers.

This unprecedented meeting brought together diverse producer organizations to identify issues and discuss potential solutions. These issues and action item lists are not comprehensive, due to time constraints of this meeting. Attending organization representatives were pleased to have reached consensus on many issues and are committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a fair and transparent finished cattle marketing system.

OKLAHOMA CITY—Following a year of unique challenges for the agriculture sector, American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) brought rural issues to the Oklahoma Capitol Building May 5. Nearly 100 AFR/OFU members from across Oklahoma convened to discuss agriculture and rural issues and meet directly with state lawmakers.

“Because last year brought unprecedented circumstances to our legislative landscape, we knew AFR/OFU members would have both new and returning issues they needed to discuss with members of the Oklahoma Legislature,” said AFR/OFU President Scott Blubaugh.

AFR/OFU members lobbied on behalf of all rural Oklahoma, with a particular emphasis on state agriculture tax exemption eligibility, increased funding for additional state meat inspectors and prevention of foreign ownership in the medical marijuana sector. Most importantly, each AFR/OFU member was encouraged to talk with their representative about the issues most important to their farm, their family and their community.

“As an organization, we strive to educate rural Oklahomans on policy issues and encourage them to get involved in the legislative process,” said Blubaugh. “Our legislative program is truly grassroots. We connect AFR/OFU members directly with their representatives and help them fight for the issues that are most important to them.”

The 2021 AFR Day at the Capitol included a legislative panel discussion featuring Chairman of the House Ag Committee Dell Kerbs (R-Shawnee), Sen. Darcy Jech (R-Kingfisher), and Rep. Ty Burns (R-Morrison). Attendees also heard an update on tribal jurisdiction from Ryan Leonard, Special Counsel for Native American Affairs for Gov. Kevin Stitt. AFR/OFU Cooperative Lobbyist Bray Haven also provided tips on effective communication with lawmakers.

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.

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