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The latest on agriculture

Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday May 7, 2009

(Left to right: Host Dick Pryor, with guests Commissioner of Agriculture Terry Peach, State Veterinarian Becky Brewer and Director of ODA Lab Mike Talkington)

No surprise - the weather is the biggest concern of Oklahoma farmers, as per Terry Peach. What with floods, ice, snow, freezes, drought, wildfires and tornadoes, it’s tough out there. One county extension agent (in Kingfisher County) predicts the grain crop in that county took a 60-80% loss from the spring freeze. The good news is that commodities are in demand world-wide, so Oklahoma farmers have the chance to do well financially if they can produce the corn, wheat and soybeans foreign markets require.

Becky Brewer discussed the steps Oklahoma takes to stem outbreaks (and the ensuing panic) from things like the H1N1 influenza virus. She asks that we not refer to it as the swine flu, because it creates a false impression that pigs are to blame. Actually, it is a swine/bird/human strain which even H1N1 doesn’t adequately describe. In any event, this flu event continues to evolve. Unfortunately, the pork producers have taken the rap. Pigs, too. This being characterized as “swine flu” has cost the pork industry many millions (it’s a $15 billion per year industry in the U.S.). At least it’s not as bad as Egypt, where the pigs of that nation were ALL slaughtered. Talk about commitment (as that old pig joke goes). But, it was all unnecessary.

Mike Talkington, I found out, does analytical research at the ODA lab. Such things as making sure Oklahoma products are safe and accurately advertised. It’s one of the reasons Made in Oklahoma products are so good.

We also got into the 2008 Farm Bill, which the Obama administration is looking at changing to limit subsidies. They hope to save about $1 billion per year for the next ten years, but the possibility of changing subsidy formulas, understandably, has caused a lot of negative reaction.

Agriculture is huge in Oklahoma, and we are glad to be able to devote an entire program to discussion of some of the issues facing farmers. At OKF, we appreciate rural Oklahoma and the significant contributions of our friends and family in farming communities. We didn’t cover everything involving Oklahoma agriculture, but it’s a start. Take a look.

Until next time,
Dick Pryor

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