The Pryor Times

Agriculture

March 6, 2014

Farm Bureau president visits Mayes County

PRYOR, OK — Tom Buchanan is a row crop farmer from Altus.

He raises cotton and wheat and runs a cow-calf operation.

He’s also Oklahoma Farm Bureau President. He was elected in November.

Last week, he visited Mayes County Farm Bureau along with Farm Bureau Insurance Executive Director Monica Wilke and state board member James Fuser.

Buchanan commends Oklahoma legislator Frank Lucas for working to draft and pass the Farm Bill. He said although the bill does not contain all of the changes Farm Bureau would like, passing a bill is a step in the right direction.

“A lot of people don’t understand crop subsidies,” Buchanan said. “I got a payment each year based on my pervious production. That was important when I lost three cotton crops in a row.

“A farmer can take that assured payment to the bank for a line of credit to plant again.”

The new farm bill trades subsidies for crop insurance, which Buchanan said provides help all producers need.

Buchanan represents water use interests as vice chairman of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Water is a topic important to Mayes County Farm Bureau members. Northeast Oklahoma has an abundance of it and for more than 30 years, others have been trying to buy some.

“I believe that water is a natural resource that belongs to Oklahoma and Oklahoma should develop that resource so all Oklahoma benefits from it: municipal, energy, industry, agriculture, wildlife, tourism and recreation. It’s not just one-dimensional,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said there is already a way to make money from selling excess water. He said the gross production tax would assure 1.5 perent of any sales stays in the county where it is sold, the same model used for oil and gas production. “Then the rest of the money (from water sales) could go to the state to help pay for other things we need.”

Buchanan said water sales should not handicap Oklahoma, but for instance when water has to be let out to lower the level of lakes, that is “extra” water and could be sold at a profit.

“Not just Oklahoma could benefit,” Buchanan said. “Be aware there are buyers. We could use their money to benefit us.”

Wilke is a past state FFA officer who knows the business of both agriculture and insurance.

She said Farm Bureau is different from insuance companies in business only to make a profit. Farm Bureau sells insurance to finance helping producers with issues such as lobbying for legislation.

Fuser is a farmer with a cow-calf operation from Afton. He raises corn, soybeans and wheat. Fuser represents District 6.

“I haven’t been in this part of the country a lot,” Buchanan said, “so I came to see it and meet the people.”

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