After a year of down market fluctuations and extreme weather events, Scott Blubaugh, AFR/OFU Cooperative President, led a team of delegates to Washington, D.C. on a three-day lobbying mission to meet with administration officials and members of Congress.
The Oklahomans participated in the annual National Farmers Union (NFU) Fly-In, Sept 9-11, which focused on strengthening the farm safety net, current trade wars and addressing market consolidations.
Recently, a combination of low commodity prices and trade wars have illustrated the making of another 1980 farm crisis. A combination, Blubaugh said, his team of delegates advocated strongly for additional markets and Market Facilitation Program payments to aid farmers and ranchers alike.
“It appears from Capitol Hill, farmers and ranchers are in for a long-haul on resolving trade issues with China,” Blubaugh said. “However, positive movement is happening with the Japan trade, and the new U.S. Mexico, Canada trade agreement will need some adjustments if the House is to move the measure forward.”
With a mountain of grain destroying commodity prices, Blubaugh, and the Oklahomans, promoted a short-term conservation retirement plan which could help with supply but also rebuild soil health by using a combination of cover crops with limited livestock rotational grazing.
Apart from the ongoing trade war discussion, the team discussed the beef processing market consolidation, which has posed great concern and risk to cattle prices.
“The consolidation of the meatpacking industry has drastically changed the retail food dollar share,” Blubaugh said. “We made sure each representative understood how these low prices have affected our hardworking cattlemen and women, and how unfair the farmers’ share is compared to what everyone else in the food industry is receiving.”
Blubaugh called attention to the recent price margins between meatpackers and ranchers, and complimented Agriculture Secretary Purdue for his investigation activities surrounding the recent Tyson plant fire in Kansas.
“There is something obviously wrong with the post-fire events,” Blubaugh said. “Several members of Congress we met with acknowledged the huge price disparity as well, which clearly does not follow the usual supply and demand model.”
The team of delegates also advocated for additional conservation funding. These efforts come after the devastating effects of the recent flooding experienced across Oklahoma where watersheds had great damage, and prevention methods are needed for future flood damage.
Blubaugh said eastern and north-central Oklahoma has a long road ahead for recovery from the recent floods, but he feels confident members of Congress understood the value of watersheds and the need to invest in protecting their longevity.
Apart from trade wars, market consolidation and conservation efforts, the Oklahoma group met with Oklahoma native, Dr. Burke Healey, an Associate Deputy Administrator of Veterinary Services for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, to discuss the new animal identification and disease traceability laws, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
A few Oklahoma agricultural producers that attended were also insurance agents who pressed for continued state regulation and resisting federal regulation for insurance companies. The group additionally advocated for the reauthorization of legislation to deal with federal government cost-sharing for federal flood insurance programs.
AFRMIC is a member of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) and presented the Public Policy Award to U.S. Senator, James Inhofe for his continued support to mutual insurance companies like AFRMIC.
“Our time in Washington was very monumental,” Blubaugh said. “We are continually working for our members to have a voice in Washington on issues affecting their daily lives.”