OK Cattlemen's Assoc. Gearing Up for Busy 2019 Legislative Session as Animal ID Debate Heats UpMon, 10 Dec 2018 13:04:43 CST
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays sat down with Executive Director of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Michael Kelsey this week, to catch up on some of the association’s recent activities and what it has been working on in preparation for the new year. According to Kelsey, policy development has taken centerstage as OCA members look forward to the installment of the new Stitt Administration in Oklahoma as well as a large turnover in the State Legislature in 2019. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Kelsey says the initial interactions and information that the industry has received from the incoming administration has been very positive with several favorable appointments for the ag community already announced or hinted at.
“You look at his advisory committee - we’ve got some good friends on that and he’s expanded it to include some even greater friends for agriculture and we’re hearing some very good news from the Department of Agriculture regarding potential Secretaries of Agriculture,” Kelsey said. “That’s all a work in progress, but we’re so excited about the ideas and the concepts (Governor-elect Kevin Stitt) has to make Oklahoma a Top Ten State - and yet recognizing we’re already there with the beef industry. We just need to continue to enhance that.”
In addition, more than 50 of the 149 seats in the State Legislature will be filled with freshman legislators this coming year. Kelsey says this presents its own set of challenges to work with an unexperienced group of lawmakers this large - but also an opportunity to educate them about the beef industry and to grow a relationship with between those men and women and the industry.
“We’ve already started that process and we have some OCA members that were elected,” he said. “Our PAC was very active and we’re excited about working with some of those new faces.”
Coming up, the association will be hosting its annual winter policy meeting, which was started three years ago and according to Kelsey, has become very important to the association’s members.
“It’s a one-day, very intensive session to talk about policy and to establish policy,” he said. “One of the big issues that’s going to come up this year is animal disease traceability and identification. That issue continues to be developed and our leadership has taken a position of - ‘we as an industry want to shape that issue so that it benefits us and it works for us rather than the government or some third party establishing it and telling us what we have to do.’
“That is not a good scenario. It’s a difficult issue but we’re going to walk through it in that manner.”
Looking ahead to 2019 - Kelsey says the association will be looking for ways in which it can continue to educate lawmakers about the challenges that the beef industry faces and where opportunities can be enhanced. He also hopes to help promote a positive business climate in Oklahoma for local producers. In addition, he says the OCA continues to look for positive initiatives that will help the swell of young people breaking into the industry.
“We’re excited about 2019,” Kelsey remarked. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for the beef cattle business in Oklahoma and we just want to help make that happen.”
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