AFR Women’s Cooperative blood drive drives saved 5,292 lives in 2018 with a total of 59 blood drives held across the state. This announcement was made February 16th during the 2019 AFR Convention at the Embassy suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman.

“This is simply amazing,” said Pam Livingston, 2018 AFR Women’s Cooperative Chair. “We are grateful for our blood drive hosts and donors who made this happen.”

The AFR Women’s Cooperative elected to partner with Oklahoma Blood Institute to increase awareness for the need of donating blood as their 2018 initiative. As the nation’s 9th largest non-profit blood center, Oklahoma Blood Institute relies solely on 1,200 volunteer blood donors a day to meet the needs of patients at more than 160 hospitals and medical facilities statewide. This was made possible by AFR agencies, counties and locals hosting blood drives across the state.

At the Women’s Cooperative awards program the following agencies, counties and locals were recognized for their outstanding efforts.

Most New Donors: 1st – Coweta Insurance Agency, 2nd – Cherokee Farmers Union, 3rd Hofschulte Insurance Services

Most Total Participants: 1st – Coweta Insurance Services, 2nd Cherokee County Farmers Union, 3rd – Ellison Group – Watonga OFU Local 504

Most Young Donors: 1st Cherokee County Farmers Union, 2nd Coweta Insurance Agency, 3rd tie – Haskell Insurance Agency and Detrick Insurance Agency

In addition to agency, county and local blood drives, the AFR Women’s Cooperative hosted blood drives at the AFR Convention, the Oklahoma Youth Expo, Oklahoma State FFA Convention and the Tulsa State Fair.

Serving rural communities is a cornerstone of AFR.

 

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Voting delegates representing all Oklahoma AFR/OFU groups elected a new president and three board of directors during the business session Feb. 16 during the 114th annual AFR/OFU convention in Norman, Okla.

Elected to serve a 3-year term as President was Scott Blubaugh, Tonkawa, Okla.

“I want to continue the great tradition of AFR/OFU being the voice of family farmers and be an advocate for farmers and ranchers throughout the state and nation,” Blubaugh said.

Blubaugh is a lifelong resident of Kay County where he and wife Lisa operate a family ranch near Tonkawa. Each year they host an annual Registered Angus production sale in the heart of their diversified 3,500 acre farm and ranch, which encompasses Osage, Kay and Noble counties.

Dustin Tackett, Ft. Cobb, Okla., was elected to the board of directors.  Tackett farms the land his grandfather bought in 1913. They raise commercial Red Angus cattle and grow wheat, hay and pumpkins. He has served as an AFR Insurance agent since 2004.

Also elected to the board was Jim Shelton, Vinita, Okla. His family operates a 3,500 acre commercial cow/calf and stocker business.  He has also had a successful banking career with the Oklahoma State Bank of Vinita.

Re-elected to board of directors was Mason Mungle, Norman, Okla. He was a partner in a family dairy farm in Atoka, Oklahoma, and is still involved in the operation of a cow/calf operation on the family farm in Atoka.

Rural voters should have more input on education funding, there should be a better definition of what constitutes meat, and support for a robust animal identification system for livestock were among the key resolutions passed during the business session.

Other resolutions passed include:

  • Better access for rural healthcare, especially keeping rural hospitals functioning in a challenging environment.
  • Support for farmers’ “right to repair” modern machinery and equipment.
  • Urge the Oklahoma Legislature to preserve current property tax system without adding additional financial burden for agricultural landowners.
  • Support an increase in state funding to retain quality staffing at the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
  • The Legislature should address legal uncertainties with both medical marijuana and industrial hemp.

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Scott Blubaugh, Tonkawa, Okla., was elected AFR/OFU president by voting delegates during the organization’s annual business session, Feb. 16, in Norman.

Blubaugh is taking over the reins from Terry Detrick who retired after 10 years at the helm.  The Ames, Okla., farmer and rancher had served the organization for over 30 years in various leadership roles.

“I want to continue the great tradition of AFR/OFU being the voice of family farmers and be an advocate for farmers and ranchers throughout the state and nation,” Blubaugh said.

Acknowledging this is a tough economic time for agriculture producers, Blubaugh offered some words of encouragement.

“Keep fighting, keep producing food and fiber and we’ll work on getting the market turned around,” Blubaugh said.

He pledged to spend time at the capitols in Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C., working and representing rural and agriculture issues.

Blubaugh is a lifelong resident of Kay County where he and wife Lisa operate a family ranch near Tonkawa. Each year they host an annual Registered Angus production sale in the heart of their diversified 3,500 acre farm and ranch, which encompasses Osage, Kay and Noble counties.

Scott has an extensive AFR/OFU background, working as OFU field representative and he and Lisa own an AFR Insurance agency in Tonkawa. He has also served on the Board of Directors for AFR Insurance.

The northern Oklahoma rancher took a one year leave of absence to serve as an Agricultural and Rural Community advisor for U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt.

Other leadership positions held by Blubaugh include serving on the Farmer’s Cooperative board of directors, Northern Oklahoma College Agricultural Advisor committee, Kay County AFR president and is a graduate of the OSU Agricultural Leadership Program Class XI. He holds membership in the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, American Angus Association, Oklahoma Angus Association and Oklahoma Ag Credit.

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Rural voters should have more input on education funding,  there should be a better definition of what constitutes meat, and support for a robust animal identification system for livestock are among the key resolutions up for adoption by voting delegates at the 2019 AFR/OFU annual business session, Feb. 16 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Norman, Okla.

The issues were pared down from the more than 30 resolutions submitted by county AFR/OFU organizations across Oklahoma. The process was completed by the AFR/OFU Policy Committee which wrapped up their efforts Jan. 23 in Oklahoma City.

“This is true grass roots policy development,” said Wayne Herriman, Tulsa, policy committee chairman.

“All of these proposed policies came from county AFR/OFU organizations and brought to this committee to work on prior to our annual business session in February,” Herriman said.

Other policies up for discussion include:

  • Support for rural healthcare, especially keeping rural hospitals functioning in a challenging environment.
  • Support for farmers’ “right to repair” modern machinery and equipment.
  • Urge the Oklahoma Legislature to preserve current property tax system without adding additional financial burden for agricultural landowners.
  • Support an increase in state funding to retain quality staffing at the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
  • Keep medical marijuana separate from recreational marijuana.

“At the end of the business we will have our “bible” representing what we will stand for and will be our marching orders for the coming year,” said Terry Detrick, AFR/OFU president.

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“New Day, New Vision” is the theme for the 114th annual convention of the AFR/OFU Feb. 15-17, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Norman, Okla.

“We expect a large crowd of members from around the state to participate in this year’s convention,” Terry Detrick, AFR/OFU president said.

One of the reasons for the expected large turnout is the election of directors and officer positions. This year voting delegates will elect a new president to lead the AFR/OFU Cooperative.  In addition, there are three board positions to be decided.

Detrick is retiring after 10 years at the helm.  The Ames, Okla., farmer and rancher has served the organization for over 30 years in various leadership roles. A special reception and retirement presentations are scheduled for Saturday evening, Feb. 16.

Voting delegates will also vote on a large slate of policy issues during the business session.  Among the issues to be discussed include immigration, trade, hemp production, energy production taxes, education funding, improving rural infrastructure and the definition of meat.

Heading the list of distinguished speakers at this year’s convention is Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, Scott Biggs, state director, Oklahoma Farm Service Agency, USDA, Blayne Arthur, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, and Neil Alldredge, senior vice president, corporate affairs for National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC).

A special youth leadership session is scheduled for Feb. 16 and will be led by well-known youth leadership trainers Marty Jones and Lawson Thompson.

A unique feature at this convention will be the AFR Women’s Council blood drive beginning Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Donors can download Oklahoma Blood Institute permission forms at  www.afrcoop.org/womans-cooperative.

A Saturday afternoon breakout session on market enhancement for Oklahoma agriculture will include presentations from the state’s commodity organizations.

A video presentation by U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) will highlight the Sunday morning worship and memorial service.

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Located between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, AFR member and legislative leader Kevin Wallace has created a hunter’s paradise in Wellston, Okla. Nestled among the oak filled timber, trophy white-tailed deer freely roam a combined 650 acres.

Wallace is chairman of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee and represents District 32 in northeast Oklahoma. The businessman said he wasn’t raised in the world of politics or deer farming, but the two go hand in hand.

With a background in construction, he decided to take a chance and purchase five white-tailed deer in 2003 from a farmer in Ohio.

“About this time, there was a big scare with CWD [Chronic Wasting Disease],” Wallace said. “I applied for the permits to get them into the state and they [Oklahoma Department of Agriculture] just started their own set of rules requiring 12 months of CWD surveillance but the farmer only had 11 months.”

Taking matters into his own hands, Wallace joined Whitetails of Oklahoma, an association dedicated to the betterment and promotion of any business associated with raising deer. Not long after joining, he was placed on their board of directors and legislative committee.

“At this point in time, the entire industry was under the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation,” Wallace said. “Together, we worked with the wildlife department and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to put the breeding under agriculture and the hunting under wildlife.”

Not long after, Wallace became a member of the North American Deer Farmers Association and began lobbying on a national level to have a cohesive set of rules implemented for CWD in all states. At the time, each state had their own set of rules that didn’t necessarily align.

“It was all because of deer that I got involved in legislation and became politically active,” said Wallace

Since becoming a State Representative in 2014, Wallace has served as the Appropriations and Budget Chair and was the House Co-chair for the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget. Wallace played a vital role in the passing of the largest teacher pay raise in state history while serving as the Appropriations and Budget Chair for the last two years.

When he’s not walking the halls of the Oklahoma State Capitol, Wallace can be found at one of his several businesses including a commercial cattle operation, Wallahachie Whitetails LLC, The Wilderness Refuge or his construction company.

Wallahachie Whitetails LLC is a breeding operation of around 50 white-tailed deer located on 160 high fenced acres. With state-of-the-art equipment, Wallace has one of the top breeding facilities in the state. He prides himself on making the health and safety of each animal his highest priority.

“On the breeding side, we regularly perform DNA testing, embryo transfers, artificial insemination, and semen storage just like bull semen,” Wallace said. “It’s based on the style of a commercial cattle operation.

“If there wasn’t a hunting market, there wouldn’t be a breeding market,” Wallace said.

The Wilderness Refuge, located on 500 high fenced acres, draws in hunters from across the country, and even as far away as Hawaii, for their chance to take home a trophy white-tailed deer. Wallace has even built a large custom lodge available for customers to stay in during their hunting trip.

Nearly 15 years since making his initial purchase of five white-tailed deer, life is drastically different than Wallace could have ever imagined for himself.

“Never get your focus so set that you’re not able to adapt and change to situations,” Wallace said. “Just like with politics, I never planned on being in politics but I’m very happy to be here now.  I think it was meant to be and I’m here for a reason.

“I love white-tailed deer and that’s part of my passion but I also enjoy serving my district and representing the state of Oklahoma.”

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PHOTO CAPTION:

With the safety of his animals being his highest priority, Wallace uses an enclosed chute system to ensure his white-tailed deer remain calm during routine checks. High amounts of stress can lead to capture myopathy (over-production of enzymes), which in high enough doses can be fatal.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Over the past several months we have talked with agricultural economists and financial experts.  The following story is a summary of their best estimates of what will happen in 2019.

Tim Koch, senior vice president and chief credit officer for Farm Credit Services of America

“There are signs 2019 could look very similar to 2018,” said Koch.

Koch breaks it down into crops and livestock with the impact weather and international trade will have on those two sectors in 2019. In areas where Mother Nature cooperated, crops prospered and the resulting yields made up some of the difference caused by low commodity prices.

“From a crop standpoint we will see a wide variation in overall financial performance,” Koch said.  “But, a lot of the protein sectors performed very well in 2018.  We will continue to be reliant on exports to chew through existing supplies.”

“We don’t know where trade will go (in 2019)” Koch said. “That’s the big wild card.”

Koch offers advice for agriculture producers in 2019.

“We encourage them to deal with the things they can control,” Koch said. “Understand production costs, seek the opportunity to be a low cost producer, focus on a disciplined market strategy and take (profit) margins where you can get them. “

Jackson Takach, lead economist for Farmer Mac

History doesn’t repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.

“Early projections of 2019 look a lot like 2018,” said Jackson Takach, lead economist for Farmer Mac.

Takach said if we don’t get a trade deal worked out with China, 2019 could be a twin of 2018.

“We export one out of every three rows of soybeans to China.  So, when they increased the tariffs that put downward pressure on our prices, about a 25 percent price decline.  If we can get those tariffs reduced, soybean prices could come up 25 percent.”

The Farmer Mac economist said grain producers will be negatively impacted the most if trade issues are not resolved going into 2019.

“Let’s say we don’t get a deal with China, soybean growers will switch to corn and wheat which would put downward pressure on those commodity prices, maybe some upward pressure on soybean prices,”Takach said.

For the livestock sector, the news is slightly better.

“For livestock producers, lower grain prices are a good thing, so they could actually see an improvement in profit margins in 2019 if grain prices stay low,” Takach said.

Takach offered this advice for producers going into the new year:

“Look very closely at the trade negotiations with China.  Try to get a good sense of what your neighbors are going to plant. You want to do what the other guy is not doing. So, if you think everyone is going to switch to corn, maybe you hang in there with soybeans.”

He also encourages producers to watch interest rates.

“I think at least two raises (in interest rates) are highly likely. Farmers are highly exposed to rising interest rates.  2019 might be a bit of a sticker shock for your operating line.”

Nathan Kaufman, vice president and Omaha Branch executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Kaufman believes farmers will be caught in a squeeze as the general economy will continue strong in 2019 while the agriculture economy goes in the opposite direction.

“Interest rates have been rising in recognition of a sustained growth in the U.S. economy. In an average sense, interest expenses are relatively small for agriculture, but it does mean for producers who are highly leveraged are going to face additional headwinds from rising interest rates,” Kaufman said.

“I think the fact it has now been a prolonged environment of weakness, (in the farm economy) is where there is most concern.  Lenders are now looking at loan renewal applications, and having to decide, how much longer we continue to do this, extend credit, recognizing the cash flow is still relatively weak.”

Is there any good news for 2019? Kaufman has to dig for a short term answer.

“I think it is difficult to see an environment where there is a lot of support for commodity prices getting back to a point where producers would say there are strong profit opportunities. I think there are reasons to be optimistic prices aren’t going to drop sharply, but we have to recognize there is a lot of production out there which will continue to weigh on prices.”

“The presence of risk mitigation programs, crop insurance and other things, will limit the downside risk to farm finances.”

 

Kim Anderson, Extension economist, Oklahoma State University

Anderson’s focus is on crop marketing and expects global demand to buoy wheat prices in 2019.

“I think for wheat producers it is going to be a relatively good year if they produce 12.5 percent protein and around 60 pound test weight per bushel. If not, they will have trouble selling it. The export market determines our prices and right now Russia is producing a high quality product and we have to match it.”

“The key to our wheat prices is what happens in Russia. If Russia turns off the spigot and reduces exports, then our prices are going to go up to $5.50, maybe even $6 per bushel as we approach June.”

Anderson’ optimism is based on a global shortage of high quality wheat.

“It’s projected that the world is going to consume more wheat than what was produced in 2018. The world is going to need our protein and test weight and they are going to pay for it.”

 

Derrell Peel, Extension economist, Oklahoma State University

Peel, who specializes in the livestock sector, said strong demand for meat protein in 2019 will bolster the outlook for producers in the coming year.

“Demand has been phenomenal, both domestic and internationally, and kept cattle prices strong,” Peel said.  I expect that to continue in 2019.”

“The tariff issues have not dramatically impacted the beef industry yet, but we have to keep an eye on it.”

“I expect beef prices to be slightly higher in 2019. The cattle market has been and will continue to be a bright spot in 2019.”

Given the optimistic outlook, should cattle producers expand herds in 2019?

“Don’t change your plans, if you have expansion plans,” Peel said.  “But, you want to keep an eye on the big picture, to stay on top of things so you can figure out if you need to react.”

 

Larry Sanders, Extension economist and professor, Oklahoma State University

Sanders is well known for his work on agriculture policy and he sees a mixed bag for rural Oklahoma in 2019.

“Those counties with oil and gas income will be okay in 2019,” Sanders said.  “For agriculture, if the trade issues are not resolved soon, there is the potential things could get even worse in 2019.”

Sanders said the good news is the NAFTA 2.0 trade pact.  The new trade agreement, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or U.S.M.C.A. , is similar to the old NAFTA.

“For Oklahoma this is about the same as the old NAFTA, so there is less uncertainty, and that is a good thing when farmers are looking out ahead and planning for the future.”

“The new farm bill and the USDA budget will be resolved so it looks a lot like the past versions.  If we don’t have an economic recession, than I think things will be okay for agriculture.”

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The uncertainty created by the federal government shutdown is impacting agriculture markets and making agricultural producers apprehensive about the future. That’s according to Terry Detrick, Ames, Okla., farmer and President of AFR/OFU, one of Oklahoma’s major farm organizations with more than 60,000 members.

“The longer the shutdown continues the greater the impact will be,” Detrick said. “We’re concerned about our farmers and ranchers having access to vital government programs through the Farm Service Agency offices.  As we start the new year, farmers and ranchers must start making plans for the upcoming growing season.  Oklahoma is the number one state in the nation for processing farm loans.  With shuttered FSA offices, they cannot accommodate farmers’ needs.”

Detrick said the government closure is also affecting the new farm bill signed into law right before Christmas.

“The shutdown is slowing implementation of the new farm bill,” Detrick said. “The USDA personnel that are supposed to be writing the new rules for implementing the farm bill are currently furloughed.”

Meanwhile, livestock need to be cared for and the feed bills need to be paid.  Detrick said life continues at a busy pace on today’s farms and ranches regardless of a government shutdown.   This means expenses keep piling up.  Producers operating with FSA loans cannot get their money in time to pay bills and are being hurt the most from this shutdown.

The Ames, Oklahoma said he hopes the shutdown is nearing its conclusion.

“We strongly urge Congress and President Trump to work out a solution as soon as possible,” Detrick said

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JB Stewart, Cimarron County, Okla., AFR member, has been selected to serve on the USDA’s Farm Service Agency state committee.

“This is a great honor for JB and he will serve Oklahoma and agriculture with distinction,” Terry Detrick, AFR president said.

Stewart and his family grow wheat and grain sorghum on their farm near Keyes in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He still owns and farms the 160 acres homesteaded by his great-grandfather. Today their farming business extends across Cimarron and Texas Counties.

JB and his son, Jarrod, are active AFR members and Jarrod owns the AFR Insurance agency in Boise City.

They also own Hopkins Ag Supply, LLC, an agri-business that sells fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, seed, and general farm supplies, while also providing custom chemical application and custom farming.

The Panhandle farm leader served on the Cimarron County FSA Committee for nine years, and was elected to the local school board for three terms. He served as a board member and is past president of the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association and is a past chairman of the Oklahoma Sorghum Commission.

 He is currently vice president of Oklahoma Genetics, Inc. and is serving the last year of his third term on the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) board of directors and was previously Chairman of the NSP Board for two years.

Stewart is a graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a BS degree in Chemistry and Animal Science. 

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