Property and Water Rights Are Top of Mind for New Farm Bureau President Tom BuchananWed, 27 Nov 2013 05:57:19 CST
Members of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau at their recent convention elected Tom Buchanan to be their organization's new president. Buchanan has a long history in agriculture and with water issues impacting southwestern Oklahoma. He recently sat down and talked with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about his background and the most pressing issues he hopes to tackle this year. (You can hear the whole interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story. Buchanan will also appear on this Saturday's "In the Field" segment on News 9 about 6:40 a.m.)
"I'm a native of southwest Oklahoma, primarily a beef producer with certainly winter wheat. I'm from the Altus area and if you live in the Altus area, then you are involved in cotton, too, so I have some irrigated cotton. In addition to that, I manage the Lugert-Altus irrigation district, the only irrigation district in Oklahoma, so my agriculture background is truly rooted in southwest Oklahoma and the commodities that we raise there."
Buchanan said he got involved with Farm Bureau early on-as many rural residents do-with insurance. As time went on he saw the value of the Farm Bureau's work as an advocate for rural Oklahomans and he became more deeply involved in the activities of the Farm Bureau Federation.
"I'm a firm believer that rural Oklahoma needs a voice, that Oklahoma agriculture needs a proponent out there and Oklahoma Farm Bureau is the one that can do that for Oklahoma agriculture and rural Oklahoma."
Buchanan says that as president he sees his role as taking the pulse of rural Oklahoma and then helping to set the goals and direction of the board. He said it is also very important for all agriculture groups to work together as the state becomes more urbanized.
"We all have the same needs and that is to be able to have private property rights protected. We should be able to access our natural resources and then have the ability to get those products to market.
We're certainly always concerned when regulations start up. We all have common cause and common need and because of our dwindling numbers, it's incumbent that we all work together. And I'm proud to say we have in the past and I'm looking forward to doing that in the future."
Buchanan's work with the irrigation district in southwestern Oklahoma has given him a unique perspective on the development of a comprehensive water plan for the state. The region has suffered through several years of drought that continues to have a major impact on agricultural producers and non-producers alike.
"I see what the availability of water to an agricultural community, the giant economic driver that can truly keep economies growing not only locally, but across the state."
Statewide, Buchanan says, he sees that Oklahoma has a huge untapped resource in water. The question becomes how to move it from areas where it is in surplus to areas that have a deficit. At the recent Oklahoma Farm Bureau convention, that was one of the most lively issues under discussion.
"Agriculture understands water. We understand the need to be able to access high-quality water in quantities that can make us successful. But we also understand that each individual region has needs and has wants of their own. So, we're certainly not saying that we should get the shovel out and start digging the ditch today, but we do believe that it is more than valid to look at and explore and study that opportunity."
Buchanan says another focal point of his efforts as president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau will be to make the voices of Oklahoma produces heard in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
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