Oklahoma Farm Bureau members from across the state gathered for the OKFB State Leadership Conference held Feb. 18-19 in Oklahoma City.
The two-day event provided members with the opportunity to hear from state officials and leaders from around the state, learn about the latest Farm Bureau news, and receive information on details regarding the regulatory issues affecting agriculture.
More than 220 members in attendance had the opportunity to hear from Gov. Kevin Stitt as he discussed what he has been doing since taking the office. Having already visited nearly 20 state agencies, one of the first governors to do so, Stitt emphasized his belief that Oklahoma can be top ten in many areas.
“I was elected to do things differently,” Stitt said.
With a strong appreciation for the people of rural Oklahoma, Stitt thanked and called them, “an important part of the fabric of our state.”
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell shared with members his optimism and ideas for Oklahoma agritourism since being named Secretary of Tourism and Branding and encouraged members to participate in this growing area of tourism.
“Tourism is one of our state’s biggest strengths,” Pinnell said. “We’ve got to play to our strengths.”
Pinnell also addressed the current gap in the workforce both in our state and across the nation. It is his hope that students across the state will be more encouraged to attend vocational schools for an array of trades.
Newly appointed Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, an Oklahoma Farm Bureau member, shared her optimism for the future of rural Oklahoma as she explained new programs geared towards creating more opportunities but realizing that it is difficult to be a part of production agriculture with the current rules and regulations in place.
“When I go home, I live with a guy who spends all his time in a barn, on a tractor or with cattle,” Arthur said. “When we make changes at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, I understand how it will affect producers.”
With agriculture and rural issues at the forefront of concern for many members, OKFB President Rodd Moesel led a legislative panel discussion asking the questions members want to know most. The panel consisted of Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, Speaker of the House Charles McCall, Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd and House Minority Leader Emily Virgin.
With complete agreement from the panelists on their optimism for the 2019 legislative session, House Minority Leader Emily Virgin pointed out that there will be differences in opinion regarding policy, but they are all working for what’s best for Oklahoma.
OKFB members also heard from Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready and State Attorney General Mike Hunter.
On Monday evening, OKFB members gathered with their state legislators and other state officials for a reception and dinner. During the dinner, OKFB recognized legislators who stood for agriculture and rural Oklahoma in 2018 with the Champion Award, and the organization recognized legislators who voted with important OKFB policy 100 percent of the time.
Day two of the conference included a presentation by Texas legislative consultant Todd Kercheval discussing the importance of OKFB members interacting with their legislators. Kercheval encouraged attendees to make a visit to the Capitol between now and the end of session.
Offering updates on his work for farmers, ranchers and rural Oklahomans, Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani spoke to members on legal matters that are being heard on the State and Federal levels.
Members concluded the conference with lunch at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau home office and a visit with their legislators at the Capitol.