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Class XII Curriculum

Leadership and Communications

Seminar IV

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
 

Wednesday, December 1, 2004, Jeremy Scherler, Scribe, Curtis Liles, Photographer

On Wednesday Dec. 1, 2004, Class Xll kicked off Seminar 4 with the "Better is Better" Conference at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OKC. This event was sponsored by Ag Preference and was attended by four Oklahoma College Ag groups, 1 High School FFA , ag lenders and producers along with OALP to hear motivational speaker David Kohl. Cecil Sheperson, President and CEO Ag Preference Altus, spoke of the increasing age of U.S. farmers (65 & older) and introduced Roland Smith who spoke about the Farm Credit Act est. in 1960. The FCA, is a $100 billion institution to help promote rural America and give constructive credit to all farmers with a special focus on young and beginning farmers.

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The featured speaker, David Kohl, received his M.S. and PhD degrees in Ag Econ from Cornell University. He is currently a professor of Ag Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech. He has traveled internationally, giving over 3,000 seminars for bankers, farm credit, FmHA and regulators, as well as producers and agribusiness groups. He has published 4 books and over 400 articles, along with receiving numerous awards. He also raises hay and dairy replacement heifers and is co-owner of a dairy that sells bottled milk and ice cream.

"Better is Better" dealt with managing for a better farm operation. Because of the changing landscape of agriculture, farmers must manage at an individual and national level using different business models and proficiency application. Different aspects of this were broken down, including macro factors for profitability, managing people by generations, effective transition management, financial performance in relation to selected business management practices and the U.S. economy in accordance to global perspective. Dr. Kohl put heavy emphasis on not being afraid of change, following consumer trends, and looking to the future with set goals and strategic planning. He stressed quality and explored why bigger is not always better. Also speaking to the group was Congressman Frank Lucas who serves on the Agriculture Committee and represents mainly rural districts. He discussed issues relating to the Farm Bill including how it gets written, passed and distributed along with what the future farm bills will face. He also answered several questions from the floor.

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The last part of the seminar involved a panel with four men involved in agriculture and ag lending. Mike Burtrum, Phil Estes, Joe Kelley, Ira Hopkins and Bart Fischer took questions from the floor covering a wide range of topics from what young farmers need to do to be successful and how the local, national and global outlook of farming will affect us. Class Xll was fortunate to experience such a motivational and informative seminar. We were treated to a great lunch and allowed to tour the museum.

 

Thursday, December 2, 2004, Brent Rendel, Scribe, Curtis Liles, Photographer

Welcome from Steve Collier
Executive Director, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau:

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Mr. Collier welcomed OALP Class XII to Oklahoma City on behalf of the OKC Visitors Bureau. He had a strong foundation in agriculture. He was raised on a ranch near Stroud, OK, and became a vocational agriculture teacher. Following his teaching career, he transitioned to serving as an Extension Agent, finally ending up with the OKC Chamber of Commerce serving in their Agriculture division. His role in the Chamber of Commerce is now as Executive Director for the OKC Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mr. Collier provided the group with a historical perspective of agriculture promotion in OKC, beginning with efforts to successfully bring a major meat packing plant to the city in 1910. Today Oklahoma City is host to 15 major equestrian events annually which bring over $111 million in direct spending to the OKC economy. Additionally, those events support over 3600 permanent jobs in the community. Finally, Mr. Collier provided an overview of an upcoming vote to raise the hotel/motel tax from the current 2% to a new permanent level of 5.5%. Of that 5.5%, 3% would go towards renovation and upkeep of the OKC Fairgrounds facilities, while the remaining 2.5% would remain with the Convention & Visitors Bureau to further their efforts.

 

Legislative Leadership Issues - State Rep. Susan Winchester:

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State Representative Susan Winchester presented the class with her advice on how to excel as leaders in a variety of situations, as well as how we should interact with our legislative representatives. Raised in an agribusiness environment (her father was an aerial applicator), she experienced a wake-up call upon her arrival in the State House of Representatives in 1998. As a freshman legislator, her role was to sit down and stay quiet while senior representatives moved their agenda through the House. Unwilling to remain in a passive role, Rep. Winchester quickly began building coalitions to support issues that she felt were important to her constituents and to date, she has succeeded in getting 28 bills passed into law. She gleaned many lessons from her tenure in politics; among them were to maintain your perspective and to remain true to your word. As leaders in agriculture, she reminded us that we should always be aware of pending action within the legislature and to communicate our concerns with our representatives and senators.

 

Legislative Leadership Issues - U.S. Senator James Inhofe:

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Senator James Inhofe made room on his busy schedule to talk to OALP Class XII about a wide range of leadership issues. He gave a brief summary of his experience as a businessman rising to political office as a U.S. Representative in 1986 and then serving as a U.S. Senator since 1994. As a follow-up to his own experiences in the political system, Senator Inhofe recommended the class read "Political Patterns in America: Conflict Representation and Resolution" by Dan D. Nimmo. Senator Inhofe currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (SEPWC) and is the number two seniority Senator serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He provided us with his perspective from legislature brought before SEPWC. Under his guidance, an attitudinal change has occurred such that the committee now views pending legislation from a standpoint of whether it is based on sound science and how it stands up to a cost-benefit analysis. After providing the class with his personal perspective on the rise of conservatives in the national political process, Senator Inhofe fielded a wide variety of questions from the class.

  

Roles of the Oklahoma Farmers Union in Providing Leadership for Agriculture Ray Wulf, State President, Oklahoma Farmers Union

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Mr. Ray Wulf, currently serving as State President, provided an overview of the Oklahoma Farmers Union organization and its actions to support agriculture. Celebrating their 100th year in Oklahoma in 2005, Oklahoma Farmers Union has grown to a 100,000-member organization and is affiliated with the National Farmers Union family of 210,000 members. Oklahoma Farmers Union is an apolitical organization, which supports its membership through various efforts, including providing a strong voice to advocate their issues in state and national legislation. Current efforts within the state include support for an ethanol plant in northwest OK, support for an oilseed processing facility in western OK, influencing legislation required to create a new Texas Corridor route between TX and OK, and supporting a proper animal identification program.

 

Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges in the Pork Industry Roy Lee Lindsey, Executive Director, Oklahoma Pork Council

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Mr. Lindsey began his discussion with a hope-filled message that he has seen a new attitude of cooperation amongst the many individual agriculture advocacy groups and that progress was being made on many fronts. He informed us that the Oklahoma Pork Council (OPC) is a producer-led organization that strives to advance the livelihood and future for the more than 16,000 Oklahomans working directly in the pork industry. Pork has invested over $1 billion to Oklahoma capital development and is expected to be the #2 agricultural commodity in Oklahoma for 2004. Looking toward the future, OPC expects to spend approximately $850,000 in 2005, focusing on promoting a positive image for the industry. Additional areas of support include a new swine research facility in Stillwater and promoting "Quality and Consistency" throughout the industry's meat products. Mr. Lindsey also provided the class with an article by Daniel Akst entitled "Cheap Eats" published in the Summer 2003 edition of the Wilson Quarterly.

 

Roles of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau in Providing Leadership for Agriculture Steve Kouplen, President, Oklahoma Farm Bureau

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Mr. Kouplen, currently serving as State President, discussed the organization and efforts of the 160,000-member Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Representing all 77 counties in Oklahoma, the organization serves as a strong voice for agricultural issues. Oklahoma Farm Bureau actively seeks to listen to all voices within agriculture and includes Women's Committee's and Young Farmer & Rancher Committee's at all levels of the organization. Additional areas of support to the membership include the Oklahoma Agricultural Legal Foundation and the Oklahoma Agriculture Fund (a political action committee).

 

Increasing Awareness, Increasing Demand Susan Lively, Director of Consumer Information and Education, Oklahoma Beef Council Mike Vache, National Cattleman's Beef Association, Executive Committee Member

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Mike Vache opened the discussion by providing a summary of his personal experience in OALP. He then discussed the history and organization of the National Cattleman's Beef Association as an introduction to the presentation given by Susan Lively. Ms. Lively discussed the creation of the beef checkoff system in 1988 through a producer referendum. The Oklahoma Beef Council (OBC) has a mission to further beef promotion, research, education, and consumer information. Unlike other advocacy organizations, the OBC is prohibited from engaging in lobbying or otherwise attempting to influence government policy. Throughout her very informative and engaging discussion, the group was educated on the priorities and methods used by OBC to accomplish their mission. The session was concluded with a lively review quiz with an OBC prize package for the winner (it was won by Nikki Snider who works for the Oklahoma PORK Council!)

 

Your Wheat Check-off Dollars at Work Mark Hodges, Executive Director, Oklahoma Wheat Commission

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The overall theme for Mr. Hodges presentation was that of CHANGE. Many changes occurring within the wheat industry include a shift from marketing to large government buyers to that of marketing directly to individual millers and a renewed emphasis on consistency of product. Our current wheat marketing system does not address many of the needs of the customer base. In an effort to meet this need, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission has assisted in the development of Plains Grains, Inc. whose mission is to promote hard red winter wheat (HRWW) quality. Starting in western Oklahoma, Plains Grains is testing and quantifying many different milling qualities of HRWW in the hope of matching individual miller needs to those regions that are producing wheat that will likely meet them. This will hopefully result in a greater value for Oklahoma wheat on the world market.

 

National Animal I.D. Terry Detrick, Vice-president, Oklahoma Farmers Union

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Using the backdrop of 9/11, the discovery of BSE in the U.S., and the rise of the high technology age, Mr. Detrick provided a roadmap to how the USDA and USAHA sought to develop a plan for implementation of an animal I.D. system. As a member of the advisory commission charged with developing guidelines for the system, Mr. Detrick provided a unique perspective on the future of animal I.D. Using a broad set of goals for the system, the commission has proposed a system that will use RFID tags on each animal to be applied by the original owner. Sale of any animal will require this unique animal identifier and will allow the government to trace any animal back through the system all the way back to this original owner within 48 hours of the I.D. need no matter how many times ownership of the animal has changed. With an emphasis on providing food safety and security as well as animal health, the recommendations were developed and sent to USDA for final approval and implementation. While some minor changes could occur before approval, the process of animal I.D. within the U.S. is not a matter of if, but rather when. As the RFID tags enter into use, many producers will be able to utilize the system to assist them in managing their own herd.

 

An Overview of the Horticulture Industry in Oklahoma Myriad Garden Conservatory Rodd Moesel, President, American Plant Products Company

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Rodd Moesel presented us with the reality that horticulture provides a valuable tool to serve as a bond between urban and rural Oklahomans. Across Oklahoma there are thousands of niche market horticulture producers serving a wide variety of customer needs. While Oklahoma originally supplied a significant quantity of fresh produce for larger markets, now sales are primarily confined to Farmer's Market outlets (with the exception of mushrooms.) Horticulture in Oklahoma today spans fruit and nut production, trees and shrubbery, greenhouse plants and many other specialty markets. The experience concluded with an evening tour of the Myriad Garden Conservatory followed by dinner. The dinner was sponsored by OALP alums.

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Friday, December 3, 2004, Brett Porter, Scribe, Curtis Liles, Photographer

We began our final day of Seminar 3 at The Oklahoman in OKC. Harlen Hentges introduced us to agricultural economist Dr. Michael Dicks of OSU. Professor Dicks was raised in Orange Co. California and received a masters and doctorate in Agricultural Economics.

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Dr. Dicks started his presentation by stating Oklahoma farmers face a difficult choice that may determine the difference between profit and loss. They can run their farms as a lifestyle or they can operate them as a business to maximize income, he stated. Dr. Dicks challenged people involved in production agriculture to start thinking of their operation in terms of something other than the family farm. He showed us income statistics that showed the nation's 2.1 million farms were not so much at the mercy of markets as they are to the amount of assets in which farmers have invested. He also said agriculture is the most subsidized profession in America. The total U.S. farmland from 1910 to 2004 is 2.3 billion acres and half of that is privately owned farmland. He also provided statistics showing production yields have peaked and that technology has hit its yield peak.

"The problem in agriculture is it is overcapitalized," he said. The wants are bigger than the needs. The return of assets suffers because sales to fixed assets are so low. Operating the farm as a profitable business means investing in less equipment, growing quality products with specific buyers identified before even planting the crop, he said. Farmers often invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into equipment such as combines that are used only a few weeks out of the year. He asked us "do you think GM has any part of its factory that's used three weeks out of the year? "If you want to make the income you ought to out of that investment you ought to run it as a business."

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Our next presenter was Mr. Ron Hayes (Class 1), Farm Service Director, Oklahoma News Network, and a member of Advisory Council for OALP. Ron grew up in Kentucky on his family farm. Ron was working in Wichita, KS and came to the state in the late 70's and started Oklahoma Agrinet. The Oklahoma Agrinet started in 1977 and in 1980's radio went to satellite instead of the old land lines and changed radio forever. In the 1990's the network was sold to "Clear Channel." This company owns a lot of radio stations across the country. One big question for agriculture radio is there a big enough audience to go in that direction and farmers should support agriculture radio.

Ron gave us some issues that he thought would be a concern in 2005. One challenge he saw is protecting what we have to keep everything in budget and avoid cuts in federal farm programs to avoid payment limitations. He also saw the environmental and conservation programs being a very big issue. Another concern to consider is all of the new people that would be involved on the Agriculture committees.

 

Ed Kelley, Editor of the Daily Oklahoman

Mr. Kelley gave us an overview of how the family owned, third generation newspaper has been in business since 1894. Kristi Edwards is the current owner and granddaughter of E.K. Gaylord who purchased the paper and moved into the new building located at 9000 N. Broadway in the spring of 1991. One thing Mr. Kelley said is they are starting a program for their employees called "Leadership for Life." They believe that everyone should be a leader life.

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Mr. Kelley then introduced Jim Stafford who has worked as a reporter for the Oklahoman for 16 years. He left The Oklahoman and went to Oklahoma Christian University to work in Public Relations for four years and he recently returned back to The Oklahoman a year and half ago and now writes technical, biotechnology, agricultural issues, and he is our tour guide of the Oklahoman.

Our tour started on the 8th floor where all of the research goes on. We then made our way over to the sports reporters, a job which require long hours into the night and most of them work at home. We continued to the press room and they showed us how they get everything ready before it goes into the machines. They put the print on a flexible piece of thin metal and then put it into the proper machine. We then got to see the paper storage room which was huge because the Oklahoman produces approximately 250,000 newspapers daily, or ten rolls of paper. One roll of paper will do 25,000 newspapers. On Sunday the Oklahoman produces 300,000 newspapers on 12 rolls of paper. There is very little manual labor because most everything is done by machines. The only labor really needed is when the papers are stacked onto crates. They have a 4.9% goal on waste papers - this means that 1 out of every 20 newspapers is bad. They also have their own power system. So if the weather is bad outside or if the city loses power, the Oklahoman always has power.