NFU President Rob Larew Tours SW Oklahoma Ag and Speaks at El Reno Forum on Beef Industry ConsolidationWed, 11 Nov 2020 15:02:35 CST
Results from the 2020 elections, climate change, COVID-19ís impact on agriculture and consolidation in the cattle industry were hot topics during a Nov. 10 tour of southwest Oklahoma agriculture by Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union.
The tour was hosted by American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative.
The day-long tour ended in El Reno where Larew participated in the Oklahoma Rural and Small-Town Table of Common Interestsí Consolidation in the Beef Industry forum. Speakers at the event were Larew, AFR/OFU President Scott Blubaugh and beef market analyst Corbitt Wall. Former Oklahoma Governor David Walters and Oklahoma Cattlemenís Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey also addressed the group.
After the forum, Larew was interviewed by Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays.
As the country waits on the final election results, Larew said there will be a lot of changes.
We expect change but what isnít going to change is all the struggles and challenges faced by farmers right now, he said.
We want President-elect Bidenís team to fully understand the challenges, Larew said.
Some of that understanding cropped up on the campaign trail as they planned to bring stability to the trade issues.
In many ways our members appreciated the attention President Trump paid to agriculture, Larew said.
The NFU president said he wanted to make sure agriculture continues to get attention in the new administration and will be part of the discussion.
A big challenge for agriculture will be overcoming the losses of veteran agriculture leaders in Congress, including U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) who lost his bid for re-election.
He really understands agriculture and has been one of the chief leaders on previous farm bills, Larew said.
Part of his legacy is he deputized some of the junior members (of Congress) and made sure they understood things like dairy policy, Larew said.
Larew said Peterson would be a good choice for USDA Secretary of Agriculture as would former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
The names that are being tossed around are familiar with us in agriculture, Larew said.
He added whatís positive is that these folks are steeped in agriculture and understand it.
Biden made it clear he really wants to pursue climate change and that could be good for agriculture.
We like the fact he talks about it in the context of jobs and ways farmers can diversify their income, Larew said.
Itís all about the details and what additional requirements would be placed on agriculture, he said.
This could be a possible income stream for farmers with carbon sequestration.
As we look to get farmers out of the red, lets make sure we donít add red tape, he said.
Throughout the pandemic Larew said NFU members received much-needed help and added more help would be appreciated.
I would like to see more assistance to be given to farmers here in the lame duck session but much of the focus will be on the senate race in Georgia, he said.
The farm tour was Larewís first visit to Oklahoma farms since being elected President in March.
He talked to a small meat locker owner where the issue of consolidation in the beef industry was discussed.
I think there are many points of view but there is a lot of common ground for both producers and consumers, Larew said.
When you have such a consolidated system you see the problems as noted during the pandemic with getting product to the consumers, he said.
It requires not only change in law and policy, but we are going to have to use the courts to make sure there isnít market manipulation, Larew said.
Click on the listen bar below to hear more of Ronís interview with NFU President Rob Larew.
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