Industrial hemp, medical marijuana, a new farm bill, property taxes and international trade were among the critical issues discussed during a series of area meetings held across Oklahoma Aug. 7-20. The meetings were sponsored by AFR/OFU.
“We had large crowds at all of our stops and I think this is indicative of the great interest AFR members have in the world around them,” said Terry Detrick, AFR/OFU president.
“It was really impressive how interested our members are and how they want to be engaged in the political process,” said Steve Thompson, AFR director of government relations.
Thompson noted people have more concerns this year about federal issues than in previous years.
“They are really concerned about international trade,” Thompson said. “They want to sell more products and open new markets as they know we have a commodity driven economy.”
On the state level, Thompson said Oklahomans are asking questions about medical marijuana and its cousin, industrial hemp.
Oklahoma citizens voted this year to make medical marijuana legal while the state legislature passed a bill supporting the production of legal hemp.
“People seem really confused right now about what is legal and what isn’t, in regards to medical marijuana and industrial hemp” Thompson said.
Thompson said it was good there were state legislators attending the area meetings.
“We had quite a few of the legislators attend and we let them engage the members on these issues and that helped answer a few of the questions,” Thompson said.
Participants enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the issues in an informal way.
“These types of meetings are very beneficial to our community,” said Mike Weaver, Ft. Cobb, Okla. He attended the area meeting in Hobart, Aug. 20.
Weaver was most concerned about the poor condition of the roads in his area.
“The trucks are tearing up our roads and there are not enough taxes to fix the roads. We’re having a lot trouble with this.”
Weaver added he was preparing to plant wheat on his southwest Oklahoma farm and the recent rains allowed him to take a break from the farm chores.
Overall, Thompson said the rural residents are upbeat about most issues.
“There is a mood of optimism out there, especially in those areas that recently got some rain,” Thompson said. “It’s an election year and that always brings the possibilities of a positive change.”