By John Collison
Oklahoma Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy
It’s that time again when the new year gets older and we at Farm Bureau look forward to another year at both Capitols. This year, however, is a special year for Oklahoma Farm Bureau. 2016 marks the 75th anniversary that we have been lobbying legislators at both the Oklahoma Capitol and in Washington, D.C. In these 75 years, many lobbyists have gone before us and have paved the way to the success we enjoy today. Your OKFB has led the way for 75 years, and will continue to lead the way in agricultural policy in the future.
Water will always be our No. 1 priority. We were blessed in 2015 with an abundant amount of rainfall, and for that we are thankful. However, we know drought is cyclical. The best time to work on water issues is when the state is not facing massive water shortfalls. You, as the members and voice of this organization, came together in Oklahoma City this year and spoke in overwhelming support for maximizing Oklahoma’s water to its fullest potential. We now are calling on the leaders of the state to make sure your vision of moving water and maximizing its use is heard. This is an issue that will take years, but there is no time like the present to solve a problem for future generations.
As we go into our 75th anniversary at OKFB, our state faces many issues. The lack of revenue at 23rd and Lincoln will be the issue that draws all the attention, but I want to encourage members to look to the future and ask that we build out our water infrastructure to benefit all of Oklahoma.
Feral, or wild, hogs are always a concern, and this year is no different. We are working with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to stop the movement, and out right proliferation, of wild hogs in Oklahoma. Again, you were loud and clear when you stood up and said, “We want to eliminate this problem in Oklahoma.”
I encourage you to call Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese and ask ODAFF to put rules in place that will stop the transportation of wild pigs and will force the disposal of all trapped pigs. These animals are an invasive species, not a sporting species, and must be treated as such. With your help, we can either slow this problem or stop it.
We must eliminate wild pigs; doing so will add thousands of dollars to agriculture’s bottom line. These are million-dollar investments that will pay billions into the future.
RIGHT TO FARM
Of course, our most important issue this year is State Question 777, or the Right to Farm constitutional amendment. In November, Oklahomans have the power to safeguard our industry and our livelihood at the ballot box. Your future as a producer in Oklahoma relies on the outcome of this state question.
At OKFB, we have persistently worked to raise awareness and fund the campaign, but we cannot do it without you. As an OKFB member, you are the campaign’s greatest asset. You are active in your churches, schools and community organizations. I challenge you to strike up a conversation with your friends and neighbors about the upcoming state question. Tell them of its importance to you, to their food supply, and to the state of Oklahoma. If you would like to learn more about SQ 777 or the campaign, please do not hesitate to contact us.
I encourage all of you to stay vigilant and active to solve the problems we face. Without your steady input and involvement, we accomplish little at the state Capitol.
Without your steady input and involvement, we accomplish little at the state Capitol.
To aid in keeping you informed and involved in legislative and regulatory issues, we’ve launched a news outlet called OKAgPolicy. Found on Twitter by following @OKAgPolicy and on Facebook by liking OKAgPolicy, the outlet provides a constant flow of news and information regarding legislation and regulations affecting Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.
To bring breaking news or action alerts instantaneously, we’ve also created a new text alert system. Simply text “OKFB” to 95577 to receive the updates. The service is free-of-charge, but standard data and messaging rates apply.
In addition to staying informed, we encourage you to be in contact with your legislators. Call them on the phone, send them an email, or even make a trip to the state Capitol. We look forward to seeing each one of you through out the year and if you’re ever at the Capitol, please make sure to say hello. Thank you for your support and active service.