District winners gathered at Oklahoma State University’s Student Union this weekend to compete for state scholarship prizes in the 77th Annual AFR speech contest. Farm Director KC Sheperd was asked to be one of the judges and caught up with AFR President Scott Blubaugh to talk about this year’s competition: “This is our state championship here at Oklahoma State. We’ve had five district conferences around the state, and the winners come here and compete for the state title, so the very best kids are here today.”
The Contest has several divisions with five different areas, including AFR/OFU, Ag Policy, Natural Resources, Agriscience, and Agribusiness. Blubagh said it’s very rewarding to watch these kids grow into these speeches, “You know, the first time they give the speech, and they struggle with it, and then you see them a few years later where they are polished and competing at really a national level.”
Blubaugh said this Contest has a long history to AFR, “77 years ago, our forefathers came up with the idea that we needed to teach advocacy to our children and our young people so they can speak on behalf of agriculture. And what better way to do it than teach your own kids? So that’s how this started 77 years ago, and now we have nearly 1000 students. FFA, 4H students, and homeschool kids compete in our Contest each year. And this was the grand finale today.” Winners are awarded scholarships in each division.
As we look into the New year, Blubaugh said AFR will be coming together this week to talk policy where they will begin working on priorities for 2023, “We have 20 policy committee members coming in throughout the state representing our four districts, and they will spend the next three months working on policy and developing that for our convention in February.”
Blubaugh said they will also start thinking about the 2023 farm bill and are happy to have Frank Lucas back on the Ag Committee again, “We are grateful that we have Frank back again because his experience is very valuable, and there’s just so many folks now on the Ag committee that have that urban-tie, and they don’t have the farm background or the farm-tie.” But, even with Congressman Lucas back on the Ag Committee, Blubaugh said it would be tough with a divided congress and a white house to complete a farm bill this year.
At the state level, Blubaugh said he expects this session to be significantly different, “It looks like our work will be on the defense this year to try and keep bad things from happening.”
To hear the Complete conversation between KC and Scott Blubaugh, click or tap below, and Congratulations to all of the AFR Speech contest winners!