Oklahoma Wheat Commission Becomes Quasi - State Entity, Brings ChangesFri, 07 Aug 2015 17:15:33 CDT
Some changes are taking place for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. As of July first, the commission went from being a state agency to a quasi-governmental agency. OWC Executive Director Mike Schulte said the change looks to make the entity more efficient for wheat producers.
The OWC was established in 1965 with the intent of the board of directors to make decisions for Oklahoma wheat producers in addressing market development, research and promotion. Schulte said the commission has been successful in many of those areas, but over time they have found their structure was very different from a lot of state government agencies. With a staff of three people and with changes in technology and reporting, Schulte said the commission felt they would be better suited in being a quasi-governmental/private entity.
"That would allow us to operate like a governmental municipality, that would still allow us to be tied to the state, but would allow the wheat producer board of directors to be making those financial decisions, like they were in 1965, which is what the intent of our legislation was," Schulte said.
In becoming a quasi -state agency this brings several changes. In the past, the Governor made the appointments for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission board. Schulte said now those appointments will be made by the state Commissioner of Agriculture. The Oklahoma Wheat Commission's annual budget will be reviewed by the Commissioner of Agriculture at the end of each fiscal year.
The Oklahoma Wheat Commission's website has also seen some changes. The new web address is okwheat.org and Schulte looks for the commission to make more additions to the website in the coming months. The website will have more information about the wheat industry, including what's going on with the Oklahoma State University Extension program.
Schulte said part of the privatization of the agency was part of the OWC's long term vision. In looking out at the next ten to fifteen years, he said the board wanted to be better situated to address domestic and foreign customers. Many wheat commissions in other states have facilities to house bake labs for research and product development. Schulte said the goal will be for the OWC to have land and a facility to host extension workshops and have a product development center for hard red winter wheat in looking at areas specific to tortilla use or pasta use. Schulte said he believes there are opportunities out there, we just need to have the facilities and the ability to accomplish those goals.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Schulte to talk about this transition. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
This weekend- we are excited to have Mike Schulte joining us for our In the Field segment that will be seen on KWTV, News9 on Saturday morning around 6:40 AM.
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