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Class XIV Curriculum

"Leadership and Communications"

 Seminar IV


Wednesday, December 3, 2008 a.m.
Scribe: Michael Marlow

Welcome from Mr. Steve Collier, Executive Director OKC Convention & Visitors Bureau, OKC chamber of Commerce

Mr. Steve Collier grew up the son of a Vocational Agriculture instructor. His ties to Ag include Oklahoma State University, Cooperative Extension and OALP class VI. He has been active in the Oklahoma City area with the Chamber of Commerce, serving in many positions from 1979 to present.

This was a very nice welcome from Mr. Collier. It was nice to here about the direction Oklahoma City is headed with its growth projects and past successes to build upon. He encouraged us to get out and enjoy Oklahoma City. To visit its many nice palaces to shop and eat as well as downtown and Bricktown. Even if we did into have opportunity on this trip he encourages us to make time and come back for a visit.

Dr. Sue Williams, Department Head OSU-Human Development & Family Services

Managing challenging Situations and People.

As leaders working in a demanding environment we are challenged to manage both our self and our situation. There are many good tools including “Leadership Modules” developed to help develop leaders. The development for leaders programs can be found at the following web site,

As leaders in Agriculture Dr. Sue encouraged us to go to this site and use these tools. Take these modules to groups, clubs and those who want to learn more about leadership in work shops led by the class members of OALP. Take them to the city, group, church, organizations, peers or businesses.

Work on the positive side of dealing with controversy to set a positive path for the future. Yelling-commanding, just do it, not very effective

Baffle with details-if I tell them enough they can see it my way, people believe in experience over facts

Trust me- doesn’t work until you have credibility

Physical violence- force, threats or invading personal space is coercive, not good but may have levels

Objective: Recognize the benefits of conflict management

  • Managing conflict
  • Profiles of people
  • Interpersonal
  • False agreement


  • Personal growth and organizational change
  • Learning, growth (personal and group)
  • Improved performance


  • Be actively involved with the people involved in group or those you are trying to lead
  • Dance the dance and get dirt under your nails.

Union Carbide Example

Evaluate fear, conflict and resistance to change ideals prior to implementing changes so you can be proactive with the group you are leading.

People need to change on own. Create a culture for change implementation and acceptance. Discomfort first and then apply changes rather than addressing change and stress it causes all at once afterwards.

Understanding our own beliefs, attitudes and values is important. In leading we do not always have groups with the same moral code. We need to understand and in many cases respect the difference and diversity. That diversity may be a great part of your strengths as a group.

Delegation- sometimes we need to step back from the group to be a good leader. Look at the dynamics and allow the group to function. Avoid taking over and taking it all on.

The Gold Watch activity

  • This was a great activity.
  • We had opportunity to see how we judged circumstances and people through this case.
  • Something so simple could drive a class into a frenzy if pushed that way.

Controversy and Conflict

How will I use my experiences:

  • Mediation and deliberation
  • Looking for common ground - where we meet to move to an even better place
  • May need to talk perspective as leader not points
  • May need to use ideas of alternate strategy

Conflict resolution

It requires or is helpful to have some perspective on the type of person or people in a group you are leading. The following general types may help you navigate through issues

Aggressive/confrontational- taking it head on
Assertive / persuasive- proactive collaborators
Observant/ introspective- the balcony people
Avoiding/ reactive- the run from conflict

We may need to pre-develop a conflict management team that is diverse among types to help us mange through conflict. Using the strength of the team’s diversity to help us address conflicts.

Your individual leadership style may limit the solutions. If you are aggressive you may rush without getting in depth details needed for the best resolution.

Team building with your group can help you see true colors or personality types and tendencies. You are better to try and move yourself to a more cooperative style than trying to change those around you.
Moving from reactive to aggressive may be required if you are being bullied.

Feel comfortable with conflict management and managing your approach.

"The secret of managing is keeping the people who hate you away from the people who may be undecided".

Categories of challenging people

  • Complainers
  • Super agreeable
  • Negativists
  • Silent-unresponsive
  • Indecisive
  • Hostile-Aggressive
  • Expert Know-it-all

We reviewed working with each type and you can go back to the resources provide for more information.

To quote Dr. Don Wagner: “Be professional, Be polite, Be firm.”

Communication - One on One

  • Review the “I” message in the materials, page 15 to 18

Listening Skills

  • We are not as good as we think
  • There is a module at the back of the packet to help us work on these skills

False Agreement

  • “On the Road to Abilene” was used as an example or “false agreement up front followed by accusation after.
  • Read this section pages 19 to 21.

Case studies

We went into groups to work on case studies provided by the class.

These reports will be available.

  • Challenges at work
  • Property deal
  • Problem employee
  • Political conflict in the group
  • Cranky client
  • Political conflict (community leaders)
  • Termination of a popular coach


  • You can control yourself
  • You can manage the situation
  • You cannot control the other person


Wednesday, December 3, 2008 p.m.
Scribe: Annette Riherd


“An Economic Crisis in Agriculture-How to Survive”

Ryan Luter started the session, filling in for Brandon Winters who had a broken foot. Ryan introduced our panel;

  • Scott Eisenhauer (Class XII), General Manager, P & K Equipment
  • Joe Neal Hampton, Oklahoma Feed and Grain Association
  • John Grunewald, President, Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma
  • Dan Childs, Consultant, The Noble Center
  • Mark Holder (Class XII) President, Stockmen’s Bank, Altus

Scott Eisenhauer, our first speaker, stated he believes the key to the economic crisis is diversification. “Unfortunately this crisis could take 2,3, even 4 years to level out.” With this in mind some ways they have seen success in expanding in new areas include. Ways to serve the small property owner, golf and turf, lawn and garden just to name a few. The newest and some would argue most diverse method is the wind energy business.

Other ways to help include;

  • Inventory management: no interest on stock in storage.
  • Budgeting: Little changes such as moving pickups from gas.

Scott ended his session with the statement that he believes a positive image is the best attitude whether in business or personal, along with buckling down and working hard.

Joe Neal Hampton, believes that banking and mortgage industries are responsible for the economy. How long will this crisis last, unfortunately this is unknown, and however we need to resolve as soon as possible. Joe also commented that the economy has stopped the sales of fertilizer; same demand economic meltdown and mass exodus of hedge funds have lowered prices. Producers and dealers are at a checkmate some have to much inventory and fertilizer did rise to high, a lot of dealers tried to maintain a hand to mouth business. Joe went on to say don’t be afraid to try something new, just because your family has been planting wheat 100 years the same way, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it that way. Don’t be afraid to price your product on what you could sell it for an investment.

John Grunewald, continued the topic at hand by sharing with us that 3-4 trillion dollars in money accounts are setting on the sidelines right now. What are the next hedge funds they will go to?

John believes agriculture has been below the radar thus far, but also believes it is important to stay political and stay educated.

Top three things you can do to help yourself:

  • Liquidity
  • Liquidity
  • Liquidity

First thing a banker looks at is: (NOTE: because this is not my area of understanding I asked Ryan to clarify it better)

  • Current Ratio = Current Assets/Current Liabilities- risk refers to the risk of default.

If you have liquidity currently, you will be able to take advantage of opportunities in this current economic situation. Liquidity refers to available cash or assets easily converted to cash. This is different from equity, which is what percentage of something you own.

  • Low Risk (1.8)
  • Moderate Risk (.2-.8)
  • High Risk (.2 or below)
  • Land values have held their own in Oklahoma.

Debt Load = a monthly debt payment (i.e. credit card pmts, vehicle, home etc.; not utility bills, telephone, etc.) divided by monthly income or in many farmers/ranchers, this is annual debt payments divided by annual gross income.

  • Low Risk (0-40%)
  • Moderate Risk (40-60%)
  • High Risk (Over 60%)

Cash Flow = percent of cash (income) available to pay debts. Obviously anything below 100% means they don’t have enough income to pay the debt payments.

Cash flow and debt load are very similar. The cash flow formula is generally used when analyzing businesses and the debt load is really used when analyzing personal situations.

  • Low Risk (140% and up)
  • Moderate Risk (115%-140%)
  • High Risk (115% and below)

John finished up his session stating the best way to survive is to find a good banker like Farm Credit or Stockmen’s Bank.

Dan Childs, Started off telling us how he suggests we survive in times like these. If you have an agriculture background visit with your grandparents, what got them through is what will get you through. Tighten your belt etc…

Other ways to save money include:

  • Soil Testing: Instead of just going out and applying fertilizer.
  • Analyze Forage

These economic times are causing people to push a pencil and think of ways outside the box to save money. However, he doesn’t know of anyone who has sold their diesel truck yet.

Even if you aren’t high tech you can find ways to save money, Dan went on to tell of a 70 year old who is using flags in his field to determine his row width and calls it his GPS. Dan encouraged the class to be creative to be efficient.

Dan said if there was one silver bullet he believes it is discipline and risk management, opportunity comes with intensity.

Mark Holder; opened his session with a strong statement, character is never developed in good times; it is devolved in tuff times.

Mark went on to explain that the younger generation, the 16 year old waiting on you at Taco Bell, has never been through tough times. Going through these times aren’t all bad, it builds character.

Mark suggested looking at the economy as a pendulum swinging back and forth, when experts say go one way, for certain it goes another. And assured us, for every winner there is a loser so there will be winners come out of this deal.

Mark then went on to share one of his favorite quotes with us by Warren Buffett. “When people are greedy I am fearful, when people are fearful I am greedy.” He encouraged us to keep our chin up and compared our times to 1985, the year he got out of college. The economy was bad then too, so he bought a bank.

Mark believes you have to go at it every day with a good attitude. Be like a duck, just as water sheds off their back let this slide off yours.

Mark concluded his session by telling us to look at all this as an opportunity and encouraging us to get out there and make things happen.


Q. Burton asked Scott what is the price for a wind farm.
A. 35-36 K for insulation.

Q. Mary asked Scott if more farms were moving to wind.
A. Yes, they see it as an opportunity, not everyone can have a large wind farm but a lot can have a small wind farm.

Q. Burton asked if the wind machinery was green.
A. Laughter form entire class and panel.

Q. Dana asked Joe other crops you can do to be more diversified.
A. Sunflowers, Corn, Winter Canola

Q. Tim T. asked Joe about the price of fertilizer.
A. Prices will follow oil, go back and do homework, have to learn how to survive.

Q. Mary asked Mark about diversification, because a past speaker said not to.
A. It’s better to have your eggs in 3 baskets than 1.

Other skills the panel suggested we, as a class, should brush up on for the future and especially for our trip to Washington;

  • Communication Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Political Science
  • People Skills
  • Stress Management

“How do you survive as an organization/community and what are you doing to keep your membership and members Community viable?”

Ryan started our session at 2:30 by introducing our panel.

  • Matt White, Mayor, El Reno
  • Terry Detrick, Vice President, American Farmers and Ranchers
  • Scott Dewald, Executive Vice President, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association
  • Mike Spradling, (Class I) President, Oklahoma Farm Bureau

Matt White: The town of El Reno is land locked; they are trying to get young people to move there, as this will help insure its future. They have done several things to help the community in the future such as street projects and better sewer systems, they got this to pass by incorporating it with soccer fields, football fields etc. Doing this helped it to pass with an 80% success rate.

How do we get people to come to El Reno to spend tax dollars and stay? Offer quality of life.

Terry Detrick: Started off telling the class everyday there are opportunities, it’s easy to get down and see negative but you can also view them as opportunities.

Terry said the three C’s of credit:

  • Cash flow
  • Cash flow
  • Cash flow

Terry had many words of wisdom to share;

  • First shall be last and last shall be first. Meaning, if you’re not willing to carry out the trash, you’re not qualified to be a leader.
  • The best test of character is authority; we have to work with other leaders, we have to form alliances. Oklahoma Agriculture is more united than any other part of the country.
  • To be a leader you must have thick skin.
  • Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
  • Usually those who are the least qualified have the most to say.
  • Biggest problem in leadership; we end up being co-followers instead of leaders. We need to stick our necks out.
  • Education is important for our grassroots, allow the generation coming after us to too know they have been heard.
  • You will not be speaking for everybody; we will always have a difference of opinion.
  • The way you lead often determines the direction your group takes.
  • Look for the hidden agenda, there are people who pay big money to get their agenda’s taken care of.

Scott Dewald, opened by telling us people in agriculture have been through this before.

As leaders in our organization it is our job to anticipate what is going to happen 6 mo. – 12 mo. down the road. The way we used to do things are not going to be the most profitable.

In Oklahoma we have the most diverse industry in the country. We need to create an environment where everyone comes forward with a profit. Take the optimistic view, when planning for the future, as well as anticipate and know what’s coming up. We should have a contingency plan in our head to cover up in case it doesn’t work out.

We have a choice we get to make. We can choose to live in faith or live in fear.

Mike Spradling, began with congratulations on being in OALP class XIV.

Mike went on to share with us that we are not only the current generation but also the next generation. It is important to spend our time to be better; our industry affects every living person on this earth.

To be a good leader you had to have been a good follower. Once you become a leader, you are the spokes person for that organization. As president of Farm Bureau Mike can’t ask for private wants, now his duty is to the membership not to self. As a leader you lose your rights as an individual member.

The members need to know their voice is being heard. The most important part is that we are all working together.

Leadership in the next generation is very important to our future. We need programs members feel are effective and mean something to them.


Q. Jared stated that he didn’t know about any of these organizations, what are they doing to get new members.
A. If only home office is promoting it then the buck stops there, we need our members to show support by promoting it.

  • It’s important to train young people.
  • Stand back and look at reality; we all need to do a better job to get the word out. Stay away from donut shop, avoid apathy and encourage youth.

Generation gap issue, due to business they have reduced meeting times to help, they are having to reinvent association meetings to help members.

  • Started 1942 agriculture legislation would rather be a farm organization that has insurance than an insurance agency that has a farm organization.

Print Media

Ryan introduced Bryan Painter, a columnist for The Oklahoman. Bryan started off telling us his views are, a word is worth a thousand pictures not a picture is worth a thousand words.

Bryan tells people he wants them to treat people like they want their family treated. Take compassion and common sense and wrap it in accuracy; everything should be wrapped in accuracy. He believes a journalist shouldn’t separate themselves from their feelings if they are real feelings. Common sense comes in when you don’t bring people pain.

Some other tips Bryan shared with the group were;

  • Don’t just say truck, be specific. A Toyota and a Chevy are both trucks but they are different.
  • If you use good details you get more mileage from a story, it will help the reader think of things which will help them to remember what you have written.
  • If you gain trust you can call back again, this is especially important with agriculture, they have probably been in their community for years.
  • Trust allows someone to be honest with you, this breeds details.
  • People and details are important, because they are not numbers. Ex. 168 died in a bomb, 44 died in a tornado, 1 died in a car accident. These are not numbers they are people you are talking about.
  • Voicing positive comments to people on good times will help you in the bad. Send praise to the reporter and to their editor, as well as scout your writer.

Bryan finished up with a story about a boy he had interviewed who he had taken a lot of pictures of. The boy was in a horrible rodeo accident and passed away, the family was very grateful to have all the photos because they were the only ones they had of him doing this sport. I would love to give you more details on this story but it had me, every woman in the room, and some men in tears. Bryan is a great story teller and I felt it an honor to get to spend time learning from him.

  • The highlights from my notes were Terry Detrick's quote that "the best test of character is authority". I think this is so true. You usually find out a person's real character when you give them authority. He also stated that real authority must (should) be humbling. Bryan Painter's determination to report his stories with "common sense and compassion wrapped in accuracy" was also memorable. You prob. already have these, but they made sense to me. Kent - Barry said Wednesday was better than any day he had in his Ag Leadership class VI sessions. I thought that was amazing! He liked Brain Painter from the Daily Oklahoman. I did too. But I think my favorite was Mark Holder....he said character is not developed in good times. It's developed in bad times. That gives me hope that something good will come out of this recession. Dana

  • The one point as I remember the session Wed afternoon that hit home with me was a comment from Mark Holder from Stockmen’s Bank when he said that the crisis or challenge we find ourselves in currently isn't necessarily an all bad thing and some very good things can come out of it. It is all in how we look at our challenges and when were stretched we grow and get stronger. I think that's good advice no matter where you find yourself. Scott N.

  • As for my favorite part, I think the overall outlook from our leaders. They all seemed to share that we need to be positive as well as being great planners. Annette

  • What probably stood out most to me was that each speaker during the “Economic Crisis in Agriculture” session mentioned and supported the idea of “looking for opportunity.” You don’t normally think of crisis and opportunity being in the same sentence but there are and will be many opportunities for agricultural producers. As a young, developing ag leader, it encourages me to consider possibilities (opportunities) to become more active in the agricultural industry. Daniel


Thursday, December 4, 2008
Scribe: Tim Taylor

We arrived at the American Farmers and Ranchers office building at 8:00 a.m. Our chairperson for the day was Mechelle Hampton. She introduced Mr. Ron Hays, the Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network. Mr. Hays has 33 years of experience in radio broadcasting. He has been an advocate for Oklahoma Farmers and the agriculture industry since 1977. He has also been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Mr. Hays session was titled Communication and the Media. Mr. Paul Jackson, of American Farmers and Ranchers (OALP Advisory Council, Class IX), was also in attendance for this session. Mr. Jackson gave his opinion on different topics throughout the morning session.

Mr. Hays began the session with explaining the differences between old, traditional, media and new media. The old media would include print, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and network news. The new media would consist of web, e-mail, instant messaging, facebook/myspace, blogging, youtube, twitter, and flicr. Mr. Hays made the point that newspapers are being replaced by web, video, and blogging. The print journalists are now diversifying to fit society’s needs and becoming videographers. They now carry a video camera instead of still cameras.

Mr. Hays reminded us that blogging, twittering, etc., can be very helpful to the agriculture industry by informing the general public in a more diverse way. By utilizing all technology available the agricultural industry can reach more people.

Mr. Hays talked in detail about all different types of video and recording equipment including reel to reel and typewriters and more recently web sights, blogging, and flicr. Annette surprised us all by her outstanding knowledge of such things as blogging, twitter, and flicr. (Does this classify her as a geek??)

Mr. Hays made the point that the general media does not have a good understanding of the agricultural industry. Therefore, when agricultural leaders prepare for an interview, they should ask themselves a couple of questions – (1) What do I want to say? (2) What are they likely to ask me? We should keep things simple, yet state our key message points very clearly. We should keep in mind that certain terminology that is common amongst farmers and ranchers will not be understood by someone that is not familiar with farming and ranching. Certain terminology may give the wrong impression of agriculture if not explained properly. Mr. Hays also explained that the opening question or statement in the interview will set the tone of the interview and that the ending statement or answer to a question should be a positive and strong answer. You always want to end the conversation on a positive note. We should be sure to take advantage of any opportunities to make a bold statement or positive point about agriculture during the interview.

Mr. Hays explained to our group how to block and bridge during an interview. We learned how to block a question that we could not or did not want to answer and bridge it to a message point. He warned us to not let a reporter bully us during an interview and let our passion for our subject save the interview.

Paul Jackson contributed to the conversation at this point. He stressed to our group to not lie to reporters and to always treat each other as professionals. He also made these points:

  • try to buy some time to prepare for an interview
  • be careful once inside the studio, it may be recorded
  • be comfortable and maintain eye contact – no shifty eyes
  • sit on tail of coat, sit up straight and lean forward a bit
  • If standing, stand with one foot slightly forward to keep from swaying
  • If standing, put one hand in a pocket
  • Keep hand gestures within body framework

Mr. Hays divided us into groups to prepare for our video interviews. The individual groups prepared a three to four minute interview. Each group then chose an interviewee to be interviewed by Mr. Hays. Group 1 was represented by Burton Harmon, Group 2 by Chad Selman, Group 3 by John Cothren, and Group 4 by David McMullen.

The class watched the videos of the interviews. They then critiqued and made comments about them with Mr. Hays providing additional pointers.

The class took a short break for lunch which was provided by OALP and/or donors. We then divided out into our assigned groups to conduct interviews with organization leaders throughout OKC. After interviews were completed, the groups had the afternoon free to prepare the team presentations to be done on Friday.

Thursday evening began with a self guided tour of the Myriad Garden Conservatory. Many spouses and OALP Alumni joined class XIV for this evening. We enjoyed a catered meal that was followed by a short overview of the Conservatory given by Rodd Moesel (Class V). At this time several alumni made comments about OALP and the evening.

Dr. James Trapp, along with Oklahoma State University Ag Alumni Board members John Cothren and Dana Bessinger, presented an award to Dr. Joe Williams. This award was the “Exemplary Faculty Award”. This award was given for making a positive impact on student’s lives. This award was voted on by Oklahoma State University Alumni.

The Conservatory was open for further touring and conversations between spouses and alumni.


Friday, December 5, 2008
Scribe: Scott Neufeld

We assembled at 7:45-8:00 a.m. in the classroom reserved for us in the American Farmers and Ranchers headquarters located at 800 N. Harvey in OKC. Our day began with a combined presentation from Larry Sanders, Professor, Agricultural Economics and Daniel Skipper, SW Area Economist and Class 14 member. Chairperson for the day was Chad Selman.

Dr. Sanders’ presentation focused on the general economy, political changes, and the farm bill. He began by saying he was a part of the “I told you so” camp stating that these problems didn’t just happen overnight. His take away message was that he predicted in the next year to 18 months we will have more volatility, less stability, and more uncertainty. Recession is real but usually isn’t called one until it’s almost over. Recession he defined as people’s cost of living going up faster than their ability to cope with it.

House price appreciation has been varied throughout the country with California and Florida being affected the most by the housing market. Oklahoma has not seen the bubble burst quite as hard because of our conservative nature and has protected us to an extent. We will be affected but it will be down the road and probably not as significant as the national average.

“The cure for high prices is high prices.” This quote by Dr. Sanders explained the fact that high prices bid more resources into the market place. Risk management is of key importance during this time. The protective response of the public during this time is to seek government intervention, more business merges, voters seeking change, and consumers reconsidering their spending patterns. The US Gross Domestic Product is shrinking and has actually contracted by .5%.

He then gave a history of how we have in the past had Government surpluses during Democratic Administrations and Republican Congress. When the roles are reversed and we have Republican Administrations and Democratic Congress, the budget deficit has grown. He explained that we currently have a $10 trillion debt of which 25% is owned by foreign countries. Of the 25% Japan owns 22% and China owns 19%. The other portions of the total were owned by Intragovernment agencies and other public interests. He gave a list of additional deficit factors that will need to be considered shortly in the future. They are as follows:

  • Iraq War - $563 bil.
  • Alternative Min. Tax repair - $865 bil.
  • Debt service - $506 bil.
  • Making tax cuts permanent - $2,011 bil.
  • Bailouts ranging from - $1,500 - $4,000 bil.

These numbers add up to an additional $5-7 trillion resulting in an additional drag on our economy which will make growth in the short term extremely difficult. Unemployment is rising to near 7%.

On trade and trade deficit issues the balance has been seen as a sea of red. We have continued to buy more than we sell with Agriculture being one of the few exceptions to this generalization. Our Ag trade has actually increased because the value of our dollar has been weak so our products are affordable on the world market. In the last 6 months we have seen the dollar value strengthening and in turn our exports have begun to suffer as well.

Interest rates are at rock bottom and prime rate may go below 1% for the first time. During this economic meltdown we have seen rate uncertainty and higher underwriting standards for all forms of credit. Factor into all of this meltdown the cross currents of interest rates, energy prices, inflation, low oil, slowing economy, and higher unemployment and this all adds up to much uncertainty.

The next discussion was held on the Farm bill. The total budget for the Farm Bill was $307 billion for 2008-2012. This is $60 billion below the baseline for the 2002 Farm Bill. It was broken down as follows: $209 billion/68% to Nutrition, $35 billion/12% to Commodity title, $25 billion/8% to Conservation title, $38 billion/12% to everything else. This Farm Bill was by far the most complex commodity program ever produced and it includes 15 different titles.

At this point we took a short break and Daniel Skipper prepared for his part in the program. We reconvened at 8:35 am and he began his informative presentation.

We went into a discussion about the complexities and provisions of the new farm bill. Daniel pointed out that in 2009-2011 time frame that the base percentage would be reduced from 85% base to 83.3%. The only explanation he had was to save a few dollars. He then gave a chart of the current Counter Cyclical payments and the projected payments for 2010-2012. Most increased modestly with the exception of cotton with a slight decrease. The new bill eliminates the 3 entity rule and provides for one payment per individual. Payment limits were set at Direct payments at $40,000, Counter Cyclical at $65,000, ACRE + CCP at $65,000, NAP at $100,000. Eligibility requirements were also changed to say that if you had a non farm income of over $500,000 3 yr average AGI, or a farm income of over $750,000 you would not be eligible for payments of any kind.

Daniel explained that the acronym ACRE stood for Average Crop Revenue Election. This is a revenue form of payment rather than a payment protection. This is to protect you in a downturn of revenue rather than strictly price. If you elected to enroll in ACRE you would have a 20% reduction in DP, 30% reduction in Marketing Loan Assistance, and you make this election once for any year in 2009-2012. You must enroll all eligible acres as you elect this option. ACRE payments are tied to planted acres not to DCP base acres. He explained and gave an explanation on the two triggers that are used in calculating whether or not ACRE would be best for your operation. The rules have not been all written at this point so a fact sheet or template is not available at this time to help determine election.

The question remained of how do we make decisions and he gave us a list of things to consider. They are as follows:

  • Planted acreage and yield history
  • Price expectations in the next 5 years
  • Yield expectations
  • Objectives for ACRE or DCP
  • SURE (permanent disaster assistance) and Crop insurance coverage
  • What crops we will grow

Over all Daniel did an outstanding job of presenting the options and giving input as to the information that they have currently received. This is a terribly complex program and will be confusing for the producer, extension, and FSA but the take home message was to do the homework because there isn’t a one shoe fits all approach to this farm bill. Good job Daniel.

We took a short break and came back at 9:15 to hear Dr. Sanders talk about the new political scene we will be dealing with. He did a good job at presenting the fact that whether we were for or against the new administration, they are what we WILL be dealing with and we need to be making some alliances now. The agenda that the Obama Administration will be dealing with include a war in Iraq, Afghanistan conflict, not to mention Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea, the relations with Israel, the current economic meltdown, immigration, infrastructure decay dealing with roads, healthcare, and education. He then asked where Agriculture would be on this radar. Pretty low was the consensus.

All that being said, net farm income has increased during the last 10 years as government payments have stayed level. Key issues for 2009 will include writing implementation rules for the new farm bill on the commodity and conservation titles. April is the preliminary target date for having initial sign ups and elections for provisions. The pending economic/financial crisis and budget reconciliation will have a huge impact on funding of any kind. The call is to trim the fat from someone. The political changes in administration will have an impact as new leaders are chosen for Ag committees, USDA, USTR, ERS, FDA, and others. Trade talks will continue to impact agriculture as well as wildcards that are out there. Democrats will control 60% of Congress and the minority will be more conservative. The House and Senate Ag committees makeup will be different with Lucas hopefully moving to the #2 ranking minority member of the House Ag Committee. At the time of this seminar John Salazar(D-Colo) is the front runner for the USDA position. He again stated that on the issue of trade, exports were going to suffer due to the strong dollar value abroad. Other issues he said would play a factor in the next year would be Food Security, World Hunger, Livestock issues, Renewable Energy, Immigration, and the Rural economy. It was interesting to note that when reviewing the national election in 2008 that McCain carried the Rural and Exurban vote by significant margins and Obama only carried the Urban vote by 57% to 42%. This shows the battle we will have in the future. Ag policy will likely not be a priority in 09 and beyond.

Dr. Sanders then gave a scenario on how to and not to frame issues. The old paradigm states that “Subsidizing wealthy, environmentally-unfriendly producers” vs. “Feeding the poor and protecting the small farmers and fragile environment” is divisive, controversial, antagonistic, and threatening. An alternative would be “How do we have a safe, affordable, varied food supply, while encouraging renewable energy, a healthy environment, and quality of life in a rural setting.” This would be cohesive, unifying, collaborative, building alliances and partnerships. He encouraged being open to change and taking a proactive approach would be a good mindset in this new and changing environment.

We then took another short break before beginning our oral reports from the interviews done the previous day. We reconvened at 10:00 am and started with our reports in random order. Below are listings of each team and the people and organization they interviewed. Please refer to the posted reports for further detail on these presentations.

Group 1 Team Members:
Kent Switzer, Jackie Walther, Famie Thompson, Charles Rohla
Interviewed: Mike Spradling and Matt Wilson
Organization: Oklahoma Farm Bureau

Group 2 Team Members:
Brandon Winters, Rose Bonjour, Michael Marlow
Interviewed: Ray Wulf, Paul Jackson, and Royce Meek
Organization: American Farmers and Ranchers

Group 3 Team Members:
Burton Harmon, Dana Bessinger, Allen Entz
Interviewed: Scott Dewald
Organization: Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association

Group 4 Team Members:
Brent Thomsen, Gary Kafer, Scott Sproul, Scott Blubaugh
Interviewed: Heather Buckmaster
Organization: Oklahoma Beef Council

Group 5 Team Members
John Cothren, Carol Cowen, Daniel Skipper
Interviewed: Rick Maloney
Organization: Assistant Commissioner of Ag, Director of Market Development Services, ODAFF

Group 6 Team Members
Mechelle Hampton, Chad Selman, Ryan Luter, Brenda Neufeld
Interviewed: Dr. Becky Brewer
Organization: State Veterinarian

Group 7 Team Members
Barry Bessinger, John Leonard, David McMullen, Scott Neufeld
Interviewed: Mason Mungle and Henry Gibson
Organization: Farmers Royalty Company

Group 8 Team Members
Wesley Crain, Lisa Blubaugh, Annette Riherd, Edmond Bonjour
Interviewed: Mike Shulte
Organization: Oklahoma Wheat Commission

Group 9 Team Members
Mary Steichen, Jared Cullison, Tim Taylor
Interviewed: Ben Pollard
Organization: Oklahoma Conservation Commission

The day ended with a few comments from Dr. Joe reflecting on the importance of this seminar. It was a great seminar with helpful content and education for each of us. We ended with a box lunch provided by OALP and donors on site. We adjourned from lunch at around 1:00.