Farm Director KC Sheperd had the chance to catch up with American Farmers and Ranchers President Scott Blubaugh and talk about AFR county meetings, the AFR Youth Speech Contest and more.
“We have county meetings in 74 of the 77 counties out there,” Blubaugh said.
The biggest concern that producers have voiced at county meetings this year, Blubaugh said, is farm bill progression. Eighty-four percent of the funding in the farm bill is for nutrition programs, Blubaugh said, and many producers are not aware of this.
AFR priorities for the 2023 farm bill, Blubaugh said, begin with dual enrollment in the PLC and ARC programs. Blubaugh said AFR would also like to see a competition title added to the farm bill to ensure fair competition and transparency in the marketplace.
“All of these other things we put together in the safety net of the farm bill are kind of irrelevant if we don’t have a fair functioning marketplace,” Blubaugh said. “We have to be very concerned about the monopoly situations that are in our markets when we are buying and selling.”
Blubaugh also talked about the rate at which the U.S. imports food compared to exporting, as he said the U.S. imports more food than is exported.
“It is quite startling to people, and scary because lots of us lived through the 1970s, and the oil embargos, when the United States was so dependent upon foreign oil in this country, and the chaos that all brought the country,” Blubaugh said.
The American farmer’s share of the food dollar has continued to go down, Blubaugh said, now at 14.3 cents of every food dollar going back to the farm. A record low amount now, Blubaugh said that trend began around 1980 and has continued to decline each year.
Processor and retailer margins have increased each year, Blubaugh said, while farmer margins have decreased.
“When we do that, it really takes a lot of dollars out of rural Oklahoma,” Blubaugh said.
The doubling of interest rates has been another hot topic of discussion at county meetings, Blubaugh said, as these increases have left farmers with little to no margin.
Blubaugh also talked about the AFR Youth Speech Contest.
“We have had five district contests, and this is our 78th year to host the AFR Speech Contest, and then on December 2, we will have the finals at OSU, and the 1st and 2nd places from each of the districts will come and compete for the finals and the scholarship money and all the prestige that comes with being the champion of the AFR Speech Contest,” Blubaugh said.