OKFB's New Public Policy Lead Steve Thompson Shares Members' Most Pressing Concerns for AgricultureTue, 13 Aug 2019 11:16:06 CDT
Steve Thompson was recently selected to lead the public policy efforts of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau as the organization’s senior director of public policy. Prior to his new role, Thompson served as director of government relations and ag programs for American Farmers and Ranchers before transitioning to OKFB as an assistant director to former State Senator Ron Justice, who retired from OKFB this year.
“I’m very thankful, very blessed for this opportunity from our boar of directors, our president and executive director and taking it very seriously,” he said. “I’m very optimistic about the future of Farm Bureau and the things we can do for our members and agriculture in the state of Oklahoma.”
Since stepping into Justice’s shoes, Thompson has jumped head-first into OKFB’s 2019 edition of its August Area Meetings, which serve as the foundation of the organization’s grassroots policy development process. In an interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, Thompson highlighted some of the major themes that have risen to the top of discussions this year among OKFB members who have attended the meetings that have taken place thus far.
You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“This is really the kick-off to our policy development process. We’ve given a look back at the 2019 Oklahoma Legislative Session and kind of a sneak preview of what we foresee on the horizon for 2020 at the State Capital,” Thompson said, explaining the process from this point on. “The members that come to these meetings will go back to their county and develop policy recommendations and it will work its way up to the district level and move through our state resolutions process. That really forms our guidance for the next year.”
Among the topics that have been discussed, Thompson says some of the old “classics” have again taken priority in the minds of members - things such as continuing to protect the ag sales tax exemption and how to approach new proposals regarding the municipal use of ad valorem taxes to supplement the budgets for certain public services.
“That’s really been one of the key issues we’ve been discussing, and our members have been somewhat split about how to approach that,” he said. “So, we’ve had really good discussion trying to understand the proposals and I’ve been really impressed by the interest levels of the members.”
While those issues have taken precedence among state-focused concerns, Thompson says from a federal standpoint all eyes remain on the Administration’s unresolved trade disputes with major trading partners and the impact that tariffs are having on the ag economy. In general, he says members are primarily concerned with the future of the ag industry and whether or not it will be able to support the next generation left to carry on their legacies.
OKFB will continue to host its members at Area Meetings through the month of August. If you are an OKFB member or would like to become one and have not made it to an Area Meeting yet, there is still time to catch one before the month’s end. For a complete look at the meeting schedule for specific dates, locations and times, click here.
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