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Agricultural News

Bart McSpadden Receives okPork Distinguished Service Award- Talks Hog Wars With Ron Hays

Sat, 16 Mar 2013 11:37:00 CDT

Bart McSpadden Receives okPork Distinguished Service Award- Talks Hog Wars With Ron Hays After more than 15 years as a lobbyist for the Oklahoma Pork Council, Bart McSpadden has been honored with the okPORK Distinguished Service Award. McSpadden was recognized at the Awards Banquet of the 2013 Oklahoma Pork Congress held on Friday, March 15th in Midwest City.

After the presentation, Farm Director Ron Hays talked with McSpadden about the early days as a lobbyist for the Pork industry in the state of Oklahoma- the era that has been called the time of the "Hog Wars." You can hear that conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story on McSpadden's accomplishments at the state capitol on behalf of the Oklahoma Pork Council.

As the son of Clem McSpadden, Bart McSpadden was raised with politics not only in his life but in his blood also. When he ceased practicing law a few years after his graduation from law school, he took the opportunity to follow a life-long passion for politics and went to work as a lobbyist at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

McSpadden spent his first session lobbying at the Capitol with his father in 1996. It was a time when the pork industry in Oklahoma was seeing unprecedented growth and families were being given the opportunity to stay on the farm through partnerships with larger companies.

"I started to see the value of the pork industry," McSpadden said, "not just to Oklahoma, not just economically. It was keeping families here, together and doing what they really wanted to do. Unfortunately, there were clouds forming on the horizon."

The legislative session of 1997 began what Bart calls the "Hog Wars." There were interests across the state, who banded together to shut down the pork industry in Oklahoma.

McSpadden described the next two years as a "fight for our lives." In those two years he was given the opportunity to meet the faces of the Oklahoma pork industry and began to understand his father's words about how working with okPORK has never been about dollars but about the people.

Building past the battles lost during the late '90s, he focused on trying to turn the tables, which took time and planning. McSpadden watched the atmosphere at the Capitol change. Brad Henry was elected governor in 2002 and the Republican Party took over the house in 2004. With those changes they - McSpadden and Roy Lee Lindsey, the Executive Director at okPORK - began putting together a plan to rebuild Oklahoma's pork industry.

"Ultimately, three of the five items in our plan were introduced as legislation in 2006," Roy Lee said, "and we introduced another in 2007. So, when we got to the time we thought we would start this project, we had already completed 80 percent of what our goals were when we set out. All of that progress was really due to Bart's leadership."

Each day McSpadden brings the dedication with him as he works for okPORK. Every day he works to build a foundation for Oklahoma's pork industry to be able to not only grow but to flourish. For all of the reasons mentioned and more okPORK chose 2013 as the year to honor McSpadden with the Distinguished Service Award for all of his hard work.



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