AFR Cooperative wrapped up its 118th Convention with “Honor Tradition, Embrace Change” as the Theme. The event was held at the Embassy Suites & Conference Center. It featured several guest speakers, including National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, Speaker of the House Charles McCall, Megan Williams with the Federal Reserve bank in Kansas City, and more. AFR President Scott Blubaugh said it’s been a great convention, “We’ve had a lot of activity, a lot of participation, and our policy committee did a great job vetting the policy.”
School Vouchers have been the talk among several Ag Groups recently, and it was brought up at the AFR convention as well, “It’s a complicated Issue. There are a lot of details in it. Speaker of the house, Charles McCall, will be here, and he’s introduced a new bill (HB 2775), and it’s passed out of committee to have some tax credits as opposed to vouchers.” Blubagh says the Committee spent about three hours discussing the bill since it’s very different from what Governor Stitt has proposed. “They did due diligence, asking lots of questions to the experts that we had available, and I’ve got my marching orders now, and I’ll carry them out.”
Blubaugh presented his President’s report and was very excited to Partner with Brady Sidwell to offer logistics, distribution, and warehousing for beef producers, “We are so excited for Brady to partner with us. His operation is just the perfect size, and he is the right person.”
Guest Speakers were also on hand from the National Farmers Union to talk about their for-profit industries located in the North, including the farmers union Enterprises, where they have developed farmer-owned restaurants and other innovative ideas. Blubaugh wants to see those types of things for Oklahoma Producers, “They were started in the 1940s, so they’ve had quite a built of time to build them up. Six hundred million dollars in annual sales is pretty impressive. That money then flows back to those state non-profit organizations in the farmers union system to fund all their education systems, their legislative work, more COOP development, and job development in those rural communities.” Blubaugh said they now have a business structure setup to be able to do that, “Our Board has set up the Oklahoma Farmers Union Enterprises, which is a for-profit company that is solely owned by the non-profit, and all of the revenue that the for-profit company makes in the future will come back to the non-profit to do our education work, to our legislative work and further business development as well.” Blubaugh says this will be helpful because there would be a diversified income stream so that you wouldn’t have to rely solely on dues money or mutual insurance company money. Blubaugh knows this is a long-term project that won’t happen overnight, but he feels confident it can be done and challenged AFR members to engage, “Because if you don’t start now, you’re never going to get caught up, so we’re excited about that future.”
The 118th Convention will Conclude Sunday with a Worship and Memorial Service at 9am.