Ag Secretary Arthur looks Back at 2019 Challenges and Ahead to 2020 OpportunitiesMon, 13 Jan 2020 09:57:28 CST
In 2019 Agriculture producers faced many challenges, from severe Weather to lack of labor resources, among others. Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Blayne Arthur says this year they are focused on doing the best job they can as a regulatory agency to handle those challenges, "You know some of those are animal health issues, some of those are just the Weather that happens here in Oklahoma and how can we interface with our customers to navigate through those. What we're trying to focus on goal wise, though, is a lot of focus on the Made in Oklahoma program and value-added processing here in the state of Oklahoma. We think that that's going to be very important to bring both domestic and international dollars into the state. Rural Economic development opportunities and giving a chance for folks to stay in rural areas if they want to."
Arthur said they are hearing from a lot of producers that labor continues to be a struggle, "So having lots of conversations with Higher Ed, with career tech, with agribusinesses, about how the department can help facilitate that discussion so wanting always to do our regulatory job but then also looking at ag promotion opportunities so that we can grow agribusiness in the rural parts of the state."
Animal Traceability has been a hot topic this year, and Arthur said they are working on a pilot cattle trace program with Kansas Department of Agriculture. So far, they have put two readers in Oklahoma. One is at the Cherokee Sale barn and the 2nd in OKC West in El Reno. Arthur says the goal is to identify the gaps so they can get a good handle on this challenging issue, "What we want to be able to do, certainly from Dr. Hall's perspective is, if we have a disease issue, the more information that we're able to access and utilize, that's a better opportunity for producers. Because then we can find that particular animal or that group of animals, and eliminate others that are not part of that group. So it's trying to find a balance between understanding how animals move, the importance of protecting that information to the producer, but then also letting us as a regulatory agency do the job that we need to do in regards to protecting herd health."
The Hemp industry has been another grey area for producers. Arthur says they are also trying to get their arms wrapped around it. Still, it's a learning process, "You know, it's certainly a learning process for us here in Oklahoma, and as we work with all of our other state departments of Ag, nobody has all the answers to that. USDA came out with some rules this past fall, but I'll say from Oklahoma perspective we were pretty disappointed in those rules for a variety of reasons and certainly having communications with USDA in regards to that."
Arthur goes onto say for the hemp producers who want to be in the industry they want to try to make thing easy for them and will continue to work on getting that application submitted to USDA and also work towards finding some opportunities for processing hemp here in the state. " I think there's a lot of value in that. We learn more about the hemp industry every day as far as which varieties are suitable for Oklahoma and which varieties or not. Lots of opportunity but lots and lots of challenges from a regulatory perspective."
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the complete interview with Ag Secretary Blayne Arthur as she talks With Ron Hays.
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