Secretary Reese Looks Back at 2014 and Goals for Next YearWed, 17 Dec 2014 18:11:33 CST
Looking back at 2014, it was a mixed bag for Oklahoma. Wheat farmers battled drought and had one of the smallest crops in the state's history, but there were also some bright spots too. In recapping the year, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese said one of the big surprises was the arrival of June and July rains bringing one of the wettest summers.
"Summer crops did really well, helped a lot of recovery, commodity prices have been good, so agriculture in general has been good," Reese said. "Since the 2011 drought we've been recovering ever since, every rainfall has been good."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director caught up with Reese to talk about the year and the outlook for 2015. Click on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story to hear their full conversation.
Another bright spot was the cattle market. With tight supplies cattle prices saw record levels this year. Reese said the prices have been incredible and a lot of producers have told him they have waited for these kind of prices their entire life and now that it is here it's kind of scary. With the decisions producers are making now Reese said there is a lot more at stake as producers choose between holding back heifers and expanding their herd or selling at these high prices.
"It's the fact that we're producing a great product," Reese said. "Consumers so far have been willing to continue to pay what it takes to get meat on their table, so we have been really blessed."
In January Governor Mary Fallin will begin her second term and Reese will continue to be at the helm of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry. In the new year, Reese said the agency is setting goals for the upcoming year. Currently Oklahoma's agricultural industry generates a total gross product of about $7 billion annually. In the next year they want to measure the state's agricultural sector to make sure the industry is growing and increasing agricultural products. Secondly Reese said they want to increase the state's agricultural exports which will further support commodity prices for ag producers. Further Oklahoma want to increase advanced processing of agricultural products with milling along with increasing food manufacturing in the state.
"We are rich with agriculture and raw product, $7 billion dollars worth, but we need to do more of the investing in the processing of that food and getting it to retail," Reese said. "Not only getting the revenue of producing it but also producing cheaper for consumers."
In talking with crop and livestock producers and those involved in agribusiness, Reese said everyone is very optimistic about 2015 and the future of agriculture. With new advancements in technology that has and will continue to change how food is produced. He said farmers are anxious to adopt the latest technology with precision farming and global positioning systems. By investing in new machinery and technology, Reese said farmers realize there is a cost savings.
Educating consumers will continue to be another major goal for 2015. One of the key initiatives has been its Ag in the Classroom program. It brings together people and resources from the Agriculture Department, Department of Education, Oklahoma Farm Bureau and Oklahoma State University to name a few. Reese said with so much false information on agriculture out there, we have increase our dialogue with all consumers.
"We have to defend ourselves and we have to educate people on what we really do in agriculture, because those who aren't in agriculture are trying to define us," Reese said.
Jim Reese will be joining Ron Hays for the weekly In the Field report Saturday morning at 6:40 am on KWTV News9 in Oklahoma City.
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