The Pryor Times

March 30, 2013

Recognizing Oklahoma’s agriculture importance

Senate Review
Sen. Sean Burrage

— People around the world may not know exactly where Oklahoma is on a map, but they can probably tell you something about the Sooner State thanks to the fact that our official state song comes from a very well-known Broadway musical. Folks who’ve never been here can tell you that the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. They’ll also tell you that the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye. If they’re really big fans of the musical, they may have picked upon the fact that it isn’t just about corn—as the opening lyrics say “gonna buy you barley, carrots and pertaters, pasture for the cattle, spinich and termaters.”

Actually, it’s a little more extensive than that—agriculture commodities include everything from cattle, hogs, poultry, cotton, sorghum, corn, wheat, dairy, hay, soybeans, peanuts, forestry, greenhouse/horticulture, pecans, peaches, aquaculture, watermelons and more. Agriculture is a huge part of Oklahoma’s past, and it continues to play a major role in defining who we are as a state.

April 4 has been declared Agriculture Day at the State Capitol. This event is all about showcasing agriculture in our state. Farming and ranching continue to be a major part of our economy and our culture.

While it is certainly true that kids growing up today are less likely to be raised on a farm than children were at statehood, it is important to point out that there are currently more than 86,000 farms in Oklahoma, 89 percent of which are family farms—and right now, 80 percent of the state’s land is used for agriculture. Agriculture’s contribution to the state’s economy is $36.5 billion, creating 188,294 jobs. As for that “waving wheat,” the five year average for wheat production is 110.2 million bushels produced making Oklahoma the fourth largest wheat producing state in the nation.

If you aren’t a rancher, you may not pay close attention to the cattle ranches you pass on the highways, but you might see them in a different light when you realize we have over 56,000 cattle operations with a five year average gross income of $2.54 billion. In fact, Oklahoma is the second largest beef producing state in the nation.

We should always be grateful for the natural resources Oklahoma has been blessed with to support farming and ranching in our state, and to the men and women who battle the elements and so much more to survive and thrive in farming and ranching—their strength, determination and tenacity are a huge part of who we are as a state.  When you and your family say grace before dinner, remember to give thanks not only for the meal, but for the farmers and ranchers who helped put that food on your table.         

Thanks again for reading my “Senate Review.” If you have any questions on a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5555 or writing me with your concerns at: Senator Sean Burrage, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd. Rm. 522, State Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.  I always enjoy hearing from my constituents and consider it an honor to be your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate. May God bless each of you.