Written by Dick Pryor on Monday December 5, 2011
December 4, 2011
Agriculture is always important in Oklahoma, but it's too big to fully discuss in one program. So, this week we have to focus. Our Big Topic features the effects of the extreme weather of the last year on Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers, and the 2012 federal Farm Bill.
This week's guests are Jim Reese, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture and Commissioner of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Scott Neufeld, Farmer/Rancher whose family is the winner of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's "Family Farm of the Year" award; and Mike Spradling, President, Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
It's no surprise that the harsh winter weather, followed by the extreme drought, was devastating to Oklahoma's livestock and crop producers. Wheat has fared fairly well, but soybeans, corn and cotton have had difficult years. Alfalfa production has also suffered, which has hurt livestock producers forced to truck in hay from out-of-state. The effects of the weather illustrated how volatile the agriculture sector is in our economy, and how important federal crop assistance is to the viability of farming.
Oklahoma's 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, so Oklahoma is well-positioned to have its agricultural interests well-represented in Washington, D.C. Scott Neufeld has spent a lot of time working with Congressman Lucas on the new farm bill, and his comments are especially insightful.
Lucas has worked with Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to lay the foundation for the 2012 Farm Bill. Their work was done in secret, so few details are available, but it's believed that they were considering cuts of $23 Billion for farm programs. Their work was to become part of the Congressional "Super-Committee" plan for reducing the federal deficit, but with the failure of the "Super-Committee" to get an agreement by its deadline, the plan's future is in doubt. Neufeld indicated that the Lucas-Stabenow plan may now become the starting point for the next round of discussions on the 2012 Farm Bill.
We have provided links to resources on the Oklahoma Forum website, if you are interested in learning more about Oklahoma agriculture and the 2012 Farm Bill.
Until next time,
(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Jim Reese, Scott Neufeld, Mike Spradling)
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