When he is not working on his Wynona, Okla., ranch, Eddie Fields is representing District 10 in the Oklahoma Legislature.  It’s not easy running a successful ranching business while spending almost half of the time 130 miles away at the state Capitol, but Fields has a strong sense of serving others.

His call to public duty was a significant factor in his selection as an AFR Ag Advocacy award winner.

“Sen. Fields unwavering compassion for public service and his strong dedication to agriculture make him a great candidate for our Ag Advocacy award,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president.

Fields is a third-generation rancher, continuing the Fields Ranch legacy started by his family in Osage County in 1952. Today he gets plenty of help from his wife, Christina and three daughters, Tailor, Jacie and Tristan.  A strong desire to hold public office fueled his first election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  He crossed the aisle in 2010 to represent Kay and Osage counties in the Oklahoma Senate. His leadership has been evident, as he has served as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and is currently Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Vice Chairman of Appropriations, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, and Chairman of Rules.

“I have just felt it necessary to step out and work for my neighbors and the citizens of Oklahoma,” Fields said.

“The coveted AFR Ag Advocacy Award is presented to deserving individuals who have demonstrated a strong record of advocating for agriculture,” Detrick said, “and Sen. Fields has definitely worked hard for the farm and ranching industry.”

Kent Boggs and Kendall Brashears received special recognition from AFR members Feb. 17 during the annual AFR convention in Norman, Okla.

Boggs, Oklahoma FFA executive secretary, is retiring this year after 32 years of working with Oklahoma’s youth.  After graduating from OSU, he joined the faculty as an agricultural education instructor at Marlow High School in Marlow, Okla., for two years.  In 1980, Boggs became an agricultural education instructor at Elgin High School in Elgin, Okla., where he taught for five years before joining the Oklahoma FFA Association as the State FFA Executive Secretary. He is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing the leadership component of the student organization which includes state officers, membership development, marketing and public relations, conventions, contests and awards.

Brashears retired last year as executive director of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation.  Brashears has served the Oklahoma FFA, agricultural educators and students since his career began in 1974. He has worked tirelessly in the classroom, in school administration, and as executive director of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation to support agricultural education in the state. In Brashears’ 12 years with the FFA Foundation, annual sponsorships increased from approximately $150,000 to $680,000. These funds support the state FFA convention, student awards, and the annual agriscience fair.  Under his leadership the FFA Foundation has twice received the Community Impact Award from the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium.

“Both of these men have been incredible role models for our state’s agricultural youth,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president.  “Many of our leaders today credit their FFA experience for contributing to their success and I know both Kent and Kendall had an impact on their lives.”

Voting delegates at the recent 2018 AFR convention elected one new leader and re-elected three current leaders for their board of directors and officers.  The voting took place Feb. 17 during the second day of the three-day annual convention at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center in Norman, Okla.

Elected to represent the southeast Agent Director, District 4, was Randy Gilbert, Tecumseh.  Gilbert and his wife, Suzanne, own and operate Gilbert Insurance Agency.  They also operate a cow/calf business and Crossing Hearts Ranch, an agri-tourism venue. They also operate a family trucking business. Gilbert is a graduate of Tecumseh High School and Oklahoma State University.  He began his career as an Agriculture Education instructor in Lawton. Gilbert serves on the Arvest Bank Board, Oklahoma Youth Expo, State Board of Career and Technology Education, Chairman of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation, President of the Southwest American Livestock Foundation and has been Chairman of the Shawnee and Tecumseh Chamber of Commerce.

Re-elected to represent the Southwest Independent District 2 was Joe Ed Kinder, Frederick. Kinder has served the organization in many capacities since his first involvement in the late 1950’s.  He service includes the AFR/OFU policy committee and By-laws committee, the NFU policy committee and the NFU policy working group.  He also participated in the organization’s legislative action “fly-ins” to Washington, D.C. In addition to his work with AFR/OFU, Kinder has served on the Tillman County Rural Water District #1 for 12 years and on the Chattanooga Town Board for 18 years.  He was chairman of the Chattanooga Public Works Authority and chairman of the Chattanooga Airport Board.  He has also served on the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association Board and chaired the Red River Terrace Water Authority.

John Porter, Edmond, was re-elected to serve as the organization’s Vice President. Porter is a graduate of Quay High School and Central State University (now UCO).  He has a rich heritage with the company as his grandfather and parents were agents, as well as his brother. During his 36-plus year career with AFR/OFU, he worked in insurance claims and as an AFR Insurance agent. He currently owns Porters Insurance Agency in Edmond.  Porter was inducted into the Oklahoma Softball Hall of Fame as a player, participant and member of the Player Youth Program. He is also a retired Oklahoma high school sports referee for basketball and football.

Kyndell Nichols, Fairview, was re-elected to represent the Northwest Agent District 1 position.  After graduation from Oklahoma State University with a BS Degree in Ag Economics and Accounting, he returned to the family farm to work with his father and with his mother in the insurance and real estate business. Nichols has been an agent for AFR/OFU since 1985.  He now runs the farming operation and has expanded a registered Hereford cattle herd with the help of his two sons, Levon and Lathan. As an active AFR member, he has served on the Policy Committee, attended Washington DC fly-in and participated in a Special Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors.  As an agent, Nichols served on the Agents Association Executive Council and served on a special committee appointed by the Board to review the agent’s contract. Nichols has been an active leader in his community for 25 years serving on the County Fair Board and is a Charter Member of the Ringwood Lions Club.  He was a member of the Oklahoma Hereford Association Board and served as President.

The state’s dire budget situation and need for revenue dominated policy discussion during the business session of the annual convention of the American Farmers & Ranchers, Feb. 16-17 in Norman, Okla.

A proposed 6 cent per gallon fuel tax attracted much of the delegate’s attention. The farm organization, consisting of mostly rural residents, has traditionally been opposed to fuel tax increases because of the long distances many of them must travel for business and personal use.  However, the group has possibly eased their opposition to such a tax.

“We are seeing a possible softening of our fuel tax opposition,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president, “as a way to open the door to common sense ways to raise revenue.”

“Our members want to try to figure out a way to help the state pay for all their needs, including rural infrastructure and teacher pay raises,” Detrick said.

The AFR leader said many of the delegates questioned how state revenue is being raised today.

“They have seen so much in the news media about the various energy sectors arguing over who pays their share of the taxes,” Detrick said.  “There is just a great deal of uncertainty out there and we want to take a cautious approach to make sure everyone is treated equally.”

The farm group reaffirmed its position on a comprehensive overhaul of the federal immigration system in order to safeguard the multi-billion dollar American agriculture industry.

Other issues drawing support included:

  • Decreasing the constitutional requirement for revenue raising measures in the legislature to 60 percent.
  • Increased education on the proper usage of the herbicide dicamba
  • More aggressive state and federal efforts to help control feral hogs.
  • Higher priority for funding to eliminate cedar trees in Oklahoma.

AFR members re-enforced support for the agriculture mediation program, as they requested inclusion of guaranteed funding for the program in the next farm bill.

More than 900 voting delegates were registered for the AFR convention, making it one of the larger contingencies showing support for rural and agriculture issues.

More than 4,000 Oklahoma elementary school students expressed their appreciation for farmers during the 2018 American Farmers & Ranchers poster contest.

“We are extremely pleased with the many creative ways students demonstrated with original artwork explaining our theme, what does agriculture do for me,” Micaela Danker, AFR youth coordinator, said.

Guidelines for the poster contest included:

  • Posters must solely be the work of the student.
  • Students may use crayons, markers, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Posters were judged on originality, creativity, neatness, content and overall effect.
  • There will be two age divisions: Division I: Grades 1&2; and Division II: Grades 3&4.
  • Cash scholarships were awarded to students in each division: First Place: $100; Second Place: $75; Third, Fourth & Fifth Place: $50.

The winners are:

Division I

1st       Saraed Peachey, Lindbergh Elementary – Tulsa

2nd      Lyndee Miller, Carnegie Elementary – Carnegie

3rd       Cristobal Oliveros Cancino, Lindbergh Elementary – Tulsa

4th       Brooklynn Estes, Wellston Elementary – Wellston

5th       Jayda Bond, Valliant Elementary – Valliant

Division II

1st       Cason Hood, Apache Elementary – Apache

2nd      Jovani Gonzalez, Laverne Elementary – Laverne

3rd       Mya Stephenson, Maryetta Elementary – Stilwell

4th       Preston Foster, Canton Elementary – Canton

5th       Angel Hernandez, Frederick Elementary – Frederick