Agriculture Secretary Blayne Arthur's Trip to Azerbaijan Brings Opportunities to the StateFri, 06 Aug 2021 16:06:56 CDT
Arthur was one of two opening speakers at the 2021 Women in Agriculture and Small Business Conference in Oklahoma City, which is where Radio Oklahoma’s own, KC Sheperd, caught up with her.
Spending the first part of her day at the Women in Agriculture event and the second part at the annual Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association conference in El Reno, Arthur said it can feel like she is working double-time compared to last year.
She recently accompanied Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Secretary of Commerce Scott Mueller and other leading Oklahomans to the country of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a small, middle eastern country who has maintained a decades-long partnership with the Oklahoma National Guard. Arthur said Azerbaijan and Oklahoma have more in common than national security.
“The country is very similar to Oklahoma - they are very energy-driven, so they are wanting to diversify their economy through agriculture,” Arthur said. “The relationship offers much opportunity for Oklahoma agri-businesses and commodities to access that market.”
Arthur said a lot of good conversations will hopefully lead to many opportunities for Oklahomans, including a dual-degree master’s program in partnership with Oklahoma State University.
Arthur credited much of Oklahoma’s strong agriculture industry to state leadership that understands the importance of agriculture.
“Having leadership that make policy decision that make sense for Oklahoma agriculture producers is pivotal to the success of the agriculture industry,” Arthur said.
Arthur said bringing Oklahoma into the top 10 agriculture producing states in the nation is a goal of the current administration. A way she sees Oklahoma accomplishing that goal is with value-added processing and common-sense conservation.
“If you look at the history of Oklahoma, we are kind of an interesting story,” Arthur said. “Conservation is so important to us - just think about the Dust Bowl days.”
And just like those Dust Bowl days, Arthur said “Soil Health” has become a buzzword in the last few years in Oklahoma.
“Soil health is so important because it’s the main resource (the state) has to produce the food and fiber for the indefinite future,” Arthur said. “I say agriculture producers are some of the original environmental stewards.”
Arthur said, in order to increase output while managing and maintaining natural resources, technology must be implemented in everyday agricultural practices.
Lastly, Arthur said she has feral hogs and how they play into the on-going African Swine Fever epidemic on her mind. She said if feral hogs become infected, it will take a massive team-effort to combat an already scary situation.
Pic courtesy of Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry
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