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Today's First Look:
mornings with cash and futures reviewed- includes where the Cash Cattle market stands, the latest Feeder Cattle Markets Etc.
Each afternoon we are posting a recap of that day's markets as analyzed by Justin Lewis of KIS futures
- click here
for the report posted yesterday afternoon around 3:30 PM.
Okla Cash Grain:
Feeder Cattle Recap:
Slaughter Cattle Recap:
TCFA Feedlot Recap:
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Ron Hays, Senior Farm Director and Editor
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|Oklahoma's Latest Farm and Ranch News
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON
Monday, December 31, 2018
See You Next Year!
| Featured Story: Jim Reese Ends His Eight Years as the Secretary and Commissioner of Ag for Oklahoma- Grateful for the Opportunity to Serve
The head of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry actually holds multiple titles. Jim Reese, who has served as the Secretary of Agriculture, Commissioner of Agriculture and the President of the State Board of Agriculture, has announced he will step down from all three jobs as of today, December 31, 2018. After serving for the past eight years, he leaves two weeks before his boss, Governor Mary Fallin, ends her second term as the Governor of the State of Oklahoma.
Just ahead of a letter that is dated Friday, December 28th, Secretary Reese talked with me about his eight years of service in the Fallin Administration- working continously during those eight years on behalf of Oklahoma's farm and ranch community.
Hays and Reese spoke of the achievements of his time leading ODAFF, including in programs like Made in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom, the Oklahoma Farm to School program, the initiation of the Significant Women in Ag program and the enhancement of Farmers Markets across Oklahoma.
Reese pointed with pride of the partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service of USDA, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts in removing 64 streams from EPA's list of Impaired Water Sources- as well as increasing soil and water conservation practices that include composting, filter strips, ponds, and other soil health efforts that have improved the farms and ranches of Oklahoma.
He also praised the selection of Blayne Arthur to be Oklahoma's next Secretary and Commissioner of Ag in the Kevin Stitt administration. He points out that there will be a two week gap between his departure and the expected arrival of Arthur at the Department- as a result- Reese has appointed Bryan Painter to serve as the Acting Commissioner of ODAFF as of his resignation at the close of business December 31st.
Click or tap here to read our full story
- check out the letter to Governor Mary Fallin from Secretary Reese and then listen to our full interview with the outgoing leader of the Oklahoma Department of Ag.
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Over the past twelve months, we covered a lot of ground in the world of farming and ranching- and I know that a top ten is really a matter of what matters to your farm, ranch or agribusiness enterprise.
Knowing that- and knowing that what I call ten major stories of the year will likely not be exactly like your "ten" stories of impact coming out of 2018.
One story that the majority of us can agree on is the work to develop, pass and get signed into law the 2018 Farm Law.
We had stories all twelve months of 2018 that related to the farm bill- early stories had groups calling for things like the FMD Vaccine Bank, keeping Crop Insurance strong and tweaking the 2014 farm safety net.
We caught up with Chairman Mike Conaway in March at the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention in Ft Worth who defended his SNAP reforms which immediately came under fire by his Democratic ranking member- Colin Peterson.
In April, word came from Washington that House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway had his Chairman's mark ready to be released- and so the debate began.
One of the multiple times that we turned to former House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas of Oklahoma to get his wisdom on the came in May after the first effort to get the House version of the Farm Bill across the floor failed- click here to listen to that conversation.
June saw BIG progress, as the Senate Ag Committee quickly approved their version of the bill- even as the House came back around to the 2018 Farm Bill and got it passed the second time around- just barely as NO Democrats supported it.
Just ahead of the Fourth of July on June 28th- the full Senate also approved their version of the Farm Bill- even as both Oklahoma Senators said NO- click here for that story which includes our visit with James Lankford on his no vote.
The House and Senate versions were not the same- so a Conference was called- the one and only public meeting came on September 5th- our coverage of that included this story- as Senator Pat Roberts chaired the conference and began the process of trying to get the measure across the finish line.
November 6th was election day- the GOP lost the US House and that changed the dynamic of the negotiations- Colin Peterson of Minnesota was set to become Chairman of the Committee in 2019- and that ended any chance of the Republicans getting SNAP work reforms.
November 29th saw a final framework confirmed as the Big Four announced their Farm Bill Deal- that deal was voted for overwhelmingly by first the Senate on December 11th and then in the House on December 12th- and the 2018 Farm Bill became the 2018 Farm Law December 21st as President Donald Trump signed it into law.
In November, voters turned the US House over to the Democrats for the next two years- meaning Colin Peterson of Minnesota will once again be the Chairman of the House Ag Committee.
At the State Level- Steve Russell lost his House seat to Kendra Horn as the first hint of Blue success was seen in Oklahoma politics in years in the Congressional delegation.
The State races were otherwise a GOP affair- including outsider Kevin Stitt, who courted rural Oklahoma- and clearly rural voters liked his message- as they helped deliver the Governor's mansion to the Tulsa businessman.
I moderated a GOP runoff debate in July at the Oklahoma Cattlemen's convention between Stitt and OKC Mayor Mick Cornett- click here to relive that event- and then later had a chance to sit down and talk one on one with the man who would later become our next Governor.
For the second time in my many years of interviewing political figures- I had an outsider to the political process tell me that "the Lord put it on my heart to run."
The first such comment made to me was from now Senator James Lankford who decided God was calling him out of full time ministry to run for the US Congress.
|In mid December- Governor-elect
Kevin Stitt announced his nomination of Blayne Arthur as the next Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, a position that will require State Senate confirmation."Blayne Arthur is a deeply respected leader in Oklahoma agriculture, known for her excellence in public service, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her passion mentoring youth," said Stitt. "As Secretary of Agriculture, Blayne will play a critical role in Oklahoma's Turnaround by providing sound policy counsel to advance rural Oklahoma and in listening to and building consensus among our state's diverse community of farmers and ranchers. I look forward to working with Blayne as our administration seeks to expand commerce and make hard decisions to set Oklahoma's next generation up for tremendous success."
Follow the link above to read many of the comments of leaders supported Blayne's nomination to the be the first female that will serve as Secretary of Ag.
And you can click or tap here to listen to our exclusive conversation with Blayne Arthur just ahead of the official release of the news of her nomination.
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau - a grassroots organization that has for its Mission Statement- Improving the Lives of Rural Oklahomans." Farm Bureau, as the state's largest general farm organization, is active at the State Capitol fighting for the best interests of its members and working with other groups to make certain that the interests of rural Oklahoma are protected. Click here for their website to learn more about the organization and how it can benefit you to be a part of Farm Bureau.
Back on the first of February- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (Army) finalized a rule adding an applicability date to the 2015 Clean Water Rule (the 2015 Rule). This rule provides clarity and certainty about which definition of "waters of the United States" is applicable nationwide in response to judicial actions that could result in confusion. The new applicability date will be two years after today's action is published in the Federal Register, during which time both agencies will continue the process of reconsidering the 2015 Rule.
Former Oklahoma Attorney General, during his time as the Administrator of EPA, Scott Pruitt, made the announcement and started the Obama era WOTUS toward the garbage land fill. Scott Yager of NCBA explained the reasoning of making this move to us at the Cattle Industry Convention that same week- click here for that visit.
Later in 2018- a federal judge in North Carolina said wait a minute- you didn't dot all the "i"s and cross all the "t"s and resurrected the old WOTUS in several states- including Oklahoma. Other judges have put a hold on that move and so we have some states where WOTUS is technically still alive and others were it is not in place- as we wait for a WOTUS 2.0 to come on line.
Finally in December- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) proposed what they called a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama administration's 2015 definition of "waters of the United States," today's proposal contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation's navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development. Click here for that announcement.
Ag groups were happy- and here is our story where many offered comments.
This is another of those stories that we have had reports about ALL YEAR LONG. The Trump Administration has stirred the trade pot with tariffs against multiple countries- but the ones that have really provided heart burn involve China, Mexico and to a lesser extent- Canada.
The big loser when it comes to US Agriculture in the trade tit for tat battles has been the US Soybean industry. Back in February- the American Soybean Association offered their thoughts on the reality of China placing a twenty five tariff against US soybeans- "Following China's announcement of a proposed 25 percent tariff on imported U.S. soybeans, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is again expressing its extreme frustration about the escalation of a trade war with the largest customer of U.S. soybeans, and calling on the White House to reconsider the tariffs that led to this retaliation. China purchases 61 percent of total U.S. soybean exports, and more than 30 percent of overall U.S. soybean production."
Other commodities hurt by the tariff battles- Pork to Mexico and China (Mexico is a HUGE buyer of US Hams), Wheat to those same countries, Cotton to China and several others.
The Trump administration has responded with some help for farmers and ranchers- through a twelve billion dollar program that includes direct payments to especially soybean and pork producers- Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced details of the plan in August saying "Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs. After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers. Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them."
On that same day- the Trump Administration announced a trade deal with Mexico that eventually included Canada that ended up being the US- Mexico- Canada Trade Agreement. The USMCA was unveiled October first.
A new version of KORUS was also announced about that same time- and the US Meat Export Federation cheered that updated trade pact that kept South Korea as a key buyer of US meat.
As we end 2018- there are hopes for talks between China and the US- and it appears at least some sales of US soybeans and pork are happening once again as we head into 2019.
Stay tuned- this will be a major area that will continue to generate a lot of news in the new year.
March and April were scary times in western Oklahoma as their was too much dry plant matter just ready to explode into dangerous wildfires- and in mid April- that became a reality.
Here's what we reported April 14th- "The latest numbers from the Oklahoma Forestry Services of the Oklahoma Department of Ag shows that over 360,000 acres have burned in northwest Oklahoma in the current round of fires, containment on the largest of the fires in Dewey County only three percent as of mid Saturday morning. The Rhea Fire in Dewey County has threatened several of the towns in the county- has raced across 240,000 acres and is just three percent contained. The largest fire in Woodward County, the 34 Complex fire, has charred 115,000 acres and is currently 13% contained. Both of these fire areas are estimates at this time."
As the fires were brought under control- funds were raised by several groups to help those hit hard by the fires- and Uncle Sam also stepped in with help- programs from the NRCS
are one example of those promoted as April wound down.
Oklahoma saw both industrial hemp and medical marijuana leap onto the state stage in 2018- and the agricultural community has shown a lot of interest in checking out the market potential of industrial hemp.
The 2018 state legislative session saw a bill that would allow hemp to be grown under the direction of colleges and universities moved quickly through the crazy session that was taken over by education interests- by April the bill was complete and signed into law by the Governor.
Oklahoma was actually late to the party- as many other states had already started this effort because of the Agricultural Act of 2014 allowing the growing of hemp under pilot programs overseen by universities. Nearly 40 other states already have industrial hemp programs.
By the end of May- Industrial Hemp Apps were being accepted- and by early June- "Governor Mary Fallin has approved a new emergency rule that removes the 30-day wait period after approval of a license to grow industrial hemp in accordance with the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. Growers with an agreement with a higher education institution and a license from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) will now be able to plant hemp as soon as their license is approved."
In July, we caught up with Oklahoma Secretary of Ag Jim Reese who gave us an update on the planting that was underway at that point- click or tap here for that conversation.
Then- we headed to Guthrie to see the first industrial hemp being harvested in Oklahoma at Mike's Herbs- the hemp being grown in the greenhouse- here's our story from there as we talked to hemp early adopter Jesse Tischauser.
At the National level- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pushed hard to include language in the 2018 Farm Bill that entirely removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act under the legislation. Click here for details on that- with the signing of the farm bill into law- that means hemp can be a crop that can be grown just like any other crop in the seasons to come.
As wheat came out of dormancy in March of this year- producers knew the crop was in trouble. In Oklahoma, 77% of the crop was rated poor to very poor in the first of the weekly crop updates for the season was released March 5th- click here for that reminder of what was to come.
The first Drought Monitor in March showed the appearance of Exceptional Drought in Oklahoma- for the first time since May of 2015. Currently, only five percent of the state's total land mass is under that designation. Statewide- 47% of Oklahoma was in drought at that point.
Drought levels bounced up and down in the spring and up until mid summer- when drought numbers started coming down. Here at the end of 2018- half the state- mostly in northern Oklahoma- is abnormally dry but only 5% is rated in Moderate Drought at this time- and that may go to almost zero in the next report that will be out this coming Thursday morning.
The wheat crop never had much of a chance with spring conditions adding freeze damage to some of the crop on top of drought- the May first Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association wheat forecast session predicted 58 to 63 million bushels- the reality was a little better as we ended up with 80 million bushels combined in 2018- and the quality of the crop was very very good when all the bushels were in the bin. Mark Hodges of Plains Grains told us in August that the quality was exceptional and you can hear our conversation here.
As 2018 began- we were there for the sentencing of Melissa Morton, who was convicted for stealing money from cattle producers who paid into the dollar a head beef checkoff. While much of the money is gone and will likely not be paid back- former Oklahoma Beef Council Chair Tom Fanning called the sentencing of Melissa Morton for embezzlement of $2.6 from the Oklahoma Beef Council as "justice served." Morton received a sentence of 57 months in Federal Prison followed by five years of supervised release. According to federal law, Morton will be required to serve at least 80-85% of her sentence.
You can listen to our visit from January with Tom Fanning on this case that impacted the checkoff both in Oklahoma and nationally as well- click or tap here.
Morton ends 2018 and starts the new year in federal prison.
Ridge Hughbanks of Alva FFA started the year as the State President of the Oklahoma FFA- he ends 2018 as one of the six national officers of the National FFA Organization.
We have talked to Ridge several times over the past few years- including this past spring as he shared a little bit of his perspective as the President of the Oklahoma FFA and the plans for the State FFA Convention- click here for that March visit with Ridge.
After the state convention- Ridge decided he was not done with FFA- competed for and won the right in June to be the National Officer Candidate representing Oklahoma in October in Indianapolis.
Ahead of Indy- we talked with Ridge in Stillwater just ahead of the travel to the National Convention in October- here's that conversation early in October- about ten days before he heard his name at the National FFA Convention.
Then came the Convention. Ridge went thru the process and then he waited- we talked to Ridge as he waited after the selection process was done before the six national officers were named on that Saturday afternoon after President Trump appeared at that same session. He called his efforts to make the team "all gas and no brakes."
It paid off.
Ridge Hughbanks heard his name called and was greeted on his way to the stage by Oklahoma's Piper Merritt who served over the past year as the Central Region National Veep- the same position Ridge now holds- here's my favorite picture of 2018- a fitting end to our review of 2018!
Today is the last day at Stillwater Milling for David Fairbanks- he retires on this December 31st after being with Stillwater since 1979- Congrats David and best wishes with this next stage of life- ENJOY!!!!!
With that said- We'll call it a wrap for 2018- We will be busy this afternoon watching the Cowboys in Memphis- and then watching more football tomorrow on New Year's Day- in the meantime, here's our best wishes for you as we all get ready to face a brand new year in just a few more hours.
Thanks for your interest in checking out our email updates all year long- thanks for reading our stuff on our website and of course, listening to our reports on great radio stations that make up the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network. When I count my blessings- your support is very much close to the top of the list!
2019 will be an interesting year- and we can all hope that our President and his trade negotiators can talk their way into the end of the tariffs that hurt our Ag Trade efforts, that beef demand continues to roar, La Nina makes this spring a non event when it comes to wildfires and that Drought forgets where Oklahoma is located at.
See you Wednesday with our next edition of our Ron Hays Daily Farm and Ranch News Email!
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