Delegates to the Oklahoma Farm Bureau annual convention set the legislative agenda for the state’s largest farm organization in 2004 and installed two new state leaders in Oklahoma City Nov. 22-24.
The delegates, representing the more than 155,000 members from the 77 counties, voted to make returning severed mineral interests to the landowner a priority issue for 2004.
Severance of mineral ownership from surface ownership over the years has resulted in the creation of minute and scattered mineral interests. It has increased abstracting costs, and adversely impacted oil and gas exploration due to the difficultly and costs of leasing.
The delegates asked that there be an economical method of consolidation devised on the state level to allow surface owners to acquire severed or abandoned mineral interests.
Delegate action also made water quality a priority issue for 2004. They adopted policy opposing the transfer of control of water quality to tribes, stating that control by numerous entities within a state causes confusion for property owners and industry.
OFB President Steve Kouplen, who was re-elected to his third two-year term by acclamation, said other significant actions taken by the delegate body centered around fuel taxes, packer ownership of cattle, country of origin labeling and the proposed state lottery.
Kouplen, a Beggs rancher, said delegates voted to oppose any increases in taxes on diesel or gasoline. Increases in both diesel and gas taxes were pushed during the last Oklahoma legislative session, and Farm Bureau was instrumental in defeating the proposals.
The country of origin policy adopted by the delegates declares that regulations should put the burden of proof on all foreign production, not on U.S.-produced products.
Kouplen said Oklahoma’s delegation to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in January will push to have similar country of origin wording made a part of the national organization’s policy.
Delegates put Farm Bureau in opposition to the proposed state lottery and lottery trust fund, going on record against State Questions 705 and 706, respectively. Oklahoma voters will consider both state questions in November 2004 elections.
While Kouplen was re-elected, delegates caucusing in two district state director elections chose new leaders. Billy R. Gibson of Ada and Larry Boggs of Red Oak were picked as new directors.
Gibson, who serves as Pontotoc County Farm Bureau president, succeeded Stanley Miller of Lindsay. Miller, who was originally elected to the district eight director post in 1997 to succeed Gibson, did not seek re-election, citing increased responsibilities on his family’s farming operation.
Gibson, who has a cow-calf operation and pecan orchard in addition to producing hay and wheat near Ada, served as district eight director from 1988 to 1997.
Term limits for OFB state directors prevented him from serving more than three consecutive three-year terms.
Boggs, a Latimer County cow-calf producer whose operation is near Wilburton, was selected by district five delegates during that group’s caucus. He replaces Poteau cattleman Al Callahan, who served one three-year term as that district’s director.
Boggs, a longtime Farm Bureau member, serves on the Latimer County Farm Bureau board of directors and has been his county’s vice president for about three years.
The Farm Bureau Women’s Committee saw all three district representatives on that affiliated committee re-elected. Ruth Moeller of Snyder, Merle Henderson of Atoka and Kathryn Floyd of Ada were re-elected to three-year terms.
The Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee has several new faces after district caucuses were held. New YF&R Committee members are Matt and Kellie Muller of Altus, Dan and Cyndi Mackey of Spiro, Burton and Audrey Harmon of Yukon, Ron and Sherri Cole of Vici, Keith Prater of Marlow, Jon and Natalie Leeds of Webbers Falls, Chad and Danielle Budy of Alva, David and Lisa Smith of Lindsay, Greg and Malinda Bowman of Perkins, and Paul and Melinda Fruendt of Guthrie.
Bart Cardwell of Kay County won the annual YF&R Discussion Meet and will represent Oklahoma in the national contest in Hawaii in January.