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Agricultural News

In the Midst of Budget Turmoil- Oklahoma Cattlemen Find Lots to Like About 2016 Legislative Session

Fri, 03 Jun 2016 08:25:57 CDT

In the Midst of Budget Turmoil- Oklahoma Cattlemen Find Lots to Like About 2016 Legislative Session

The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) prides itself in being the only organization that is solely focused on beef cattle production at the Oklahoma State Legislature.

"Having a voice at the capitol is a key benefit to members, like me," said Charlie Swanson, President of the OCA. "OCA members had two lobbyists working their behalf during the entire 55th Oklahoma State Legislature, so that we as cattlemen can remain focused on producing beef."

While the budget was the main topic of the second session, there were many other issues addressed.

"While this session was tough, OCA experienced many successes in the eight areas listed below," Swanson said.

- Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption—By working closely with agriculture allies, the OCA worked to preserve the Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption and defended a serious proposal to eliminate the sales tax exemption for equine sales. Also, early in the session, a list was circulated to legislators suggesting that eliminating the sales tax exemption of livestock purchased out of state could be a source of revenue. OCA worked quickly to offset these bad ideas and remained vigilant against their resurrection later in the session.

- Cattle Theft Penalty—This bill (HB 2540) codifies that each animal stolen may be a separate felony offense, thus giving the courts more latitude to charge cattle rustlers. It also established the fine portion of the penalty to be three times the value of the cattle stolen. We appreciate Representative John Pfeiffer and Senator Ron Justice for carrying this priority legislation for the OCA.

- Water is Compelling State Interest—Working closely with the American Farmers and Ranchers, the Oklahoma Pork Council, Oklahoma Co-op Association and the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association, HB 2446 was passed and places in state law that water is a compelling state interest. OCA has long agreed that water quality is a compelling state interest and that the Legislature has the authority to govern in this issue. Oklahoma’s Right to Farm - SQ 777 -opponents have used water quality to deceive voters by stating that if Right to Farm is passed, Oklahoma’s waters would suffer at the hands of agriculture. Opponents will now have to come up with another talking point to manipulate voters. We appreciate Representative Terry O’Donnell and Senator Dan Newberry for their work on this bill.

- Prescribed Fire Burning—OCA championed HB 2646 as an important piece of legislation because it allows landowners to use prescribed fire during a County Commissioner issued burn ban provided they communicate their prescribed fire plan to firefighters. The bill also lowers the County Commissioner issued burn ban from 30 days to 14 days. The bill is currently in the

Governor’s office waiting her signature. We appreciate Representative Kevin Wallace and Senator Don Barrington for carrying this priority legislation for the OCA.

- Feral Swine—SB 1142 bill arrived later in the session and would have given landowner’s the ability to eradicate feral swine on their land anytime without the need of a permit from any government agency. The bill included provisions allowing the same action on public lands which troubled the Governor’s office specific to public security. The Governor did veto the bill but reached out to OCA in crafting an Executive Order that provides positive progress to addressing feral swine. The Executive Order applies to both the Oklahoma Wildlife Commission and the Department of Agriculture and gives some clear definition to promulgate rules by November 1st. OCA will stay in active communication with both agencies as they develop their respective rules.

- Ad Valorem Taxes—The OCA watched the budget process closely for proposals that could ultimately result in ad valorem tax increases. Road and Bridge funding along with county appropriations are important factors in this consideration.

- Executive Nomination— OCA Lifetime Member Jarold Callahan was appointed to the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Agriculture & Mechanical Colleges. The OCA supported his appointment through written testimony and lobbying individual senators. Callahan is currently President of Express Ranches in Yukon and a former OCA Executive Vice President.

The OCA represents more than 5,500 Oklahoma ranching families. The OCA exists to support and defend the state and nation’s beef cattle industry. The OCA officers, board of directors and membership encourages you to join us in our advocacy efforts to ensure less government intervention, lower taxes and a better bottom line. For more information about OCA membership, the theft reward program or activities call 405-235-4391 or visit www.okcattlemen.org.


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