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'Right to Farm,' Intensifying Drought Top List of Topics Discussed During Farm City Week Luncheon

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:36:03 CDT

'Right to Farm,' Intensifying Drought Top List of Topics Discussed During Farm City Week Luncheon
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Team took time this last week to put on their annual luncheon spread for legislators during Farm City Week at the state capitol. OFB President Tom Buchanan was on hand and spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays. (You can hear their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.) Buchanan said the luncheon is an opportunity to build solid relationships.

"The Oklahoma Farm Bureau's Women's Leadership Team is very proud to be able to continue this tradition. It's a lunch that we provide for everybody in the capitol, certainly the elected officials, but many staff members come through this deal, so it's an excellent opportunity for them to get to stay on site, eat lunch, we get to shake hands, we get to know each other and build those relationships. So, we're proud to be a part of it."

Buchanan said the relationships created and maintained go much farther than just with lawmakers.

"It is absolutely imperative with the policies and new statutes that rural Oklahoma and agriculture needs to not only have a relationship with that elected official but with that staff that helps him, guides him, answers that phone, takes all those notes and checks all those boxes. So, it's crucial that we have relationships all across this building."

There are several issues of importance under consideration at the capitol. One of great importance to the OFB, Buchanan said, is the "Right to Farm" amendment to the state constitution.

"In Oklahoma, many people would ask the question, 'Why would you need a right-to-farm in the Oklahoma constitution because this is an ag state, it always has been and always will be?' It's the outside forces that want to change how we do business. Today's modern farmers are using modern techniques that are good for the environment, good for the animal and good for the consumer. And we want to be able to continue to do that and not have someone from the outside handicap us and tell us how to do business. So, it's really a protection for the future."

Being a farmer from southwestern Oklahoma himself, Buchanan said another big issue currently on his mind and the minds of several lawmakers is the intensifying drought gripping that portion of the state. Many of the area's reservoirs are now down to critical levels and that fact could impact southwest Oklahoma far into the future.

"I used to say it was tragic and that does not describe it now. We are literally at a point that I believe that we're seeing some culture change. Without a doubt, agriculture's been impacted greatly. Energy exploration has had enormous impacts. We are now seeing municipal supplies dwindling to the point that there's water restrictions across western Oklahoma for municipal use. That's very concerning when that starts to happen. And now we're beginning to see people make those-that human concern is starting to enter now-decisions about 'Do I raise my family here? Do I locate my business here?' And we have to correct that problem and assure people that things are going to be fine. Not only will it rain again, but the water resources in Oklahoma will allow Oklahoma to continue to prosper."


Ron Hays talks with Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan.
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