Organizers of the second annual Southwest Ag Issues Summit hope featured speaker Rep. Frank Lucas, R- Okla., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, will offer an update on a new farm bill in opening remarks Sept. 9 in Oklahoma City.
They are also realistic enough to understand that Congress may not get that done with such a short time to work following the August recess. “No one knows what will happen,” says Jimmy Clark, executive director of the Southwest Council on Agribusiness, a key sponsor of the Summit, “but we are hoping Chairman Lucas talks about success.”
Clark says last year’s inaugural Ag Issues Summit set a high bar but believes this year’s agenda includes equally compelling issues for agriculture and related industries across the region.
“Economist Jim Wiesemeyer will provide a sense of the direction ag is taking,” Clark said. “We also have a farm bill panel. They will either discuss the commodity title of a new farm bill or talk about where legislation may be heading.”
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Golfers and gamblers have an afternoon golf tournament or a Texas hold ‘em tournament Monday afternoon. Cowboy poet Waddy Mitchell, who Clark says is “very good,” provides entertainment following a reception and dinner.
Tuesday’s agenda starts with breakfast speaker John Gilliland discussing agricultural trade. Greg Hart, John Deere, will address doing business in a global environment.
“We also have a panel on the Endangered Species Act that will include discussion of the Lesser Prairie Chicken issue,” Clark said.
A crop insurance panel will provide insight into what has become the backbone of the farm safety net.
The Summit concludes with a luncheon address by David Wasserman, with the Cook Political Report. “David Wasserman is a very good speaker and did an outstanding job at last year’s Summit,” Clark said.
“We hope to make the annual Ag Issues Summit different from other meetings,” Clark added. “We want it to be an education meeting that deals with the issues that affect agriculture, businesses that supply ag needs, lenders and others. We want to get ag leaders to discuss pertinent issues.”
The Southwest Council of Agribusiness is a major mover behind the Summit, which is also supported by many representatives of the region’s agricultural industry.
“The Council started in 2007,” Clark explained. Former Texas Representative and House Ag Committee Chairman Larry Combest and his associate Tom Sell visited Mississippi several times and learned how instrumental the Delta Council is to ag issues in that region. “They were impressed with what the Delta Council does,” Clark said, “so they worked on establishing something similar for the Southwest.”
Currently, the Southwest Council includes 18 commodity organizations from five states—Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado—and 125 members, including ag businesses, lenders, and several firms not directly involved in agriculture but that recognize the industry’s importance to the region’s economy.
“We have an RV dealer, auto dealerships and a food store chain,” Clark said. “They understand that agriculture is important to their bottom line.”
He said as the council has grown, it has increased the region’s influence in both state and federal legislatures. “It makes a huge difference when we go to Washington to have organizations such as Plains Cotton Growers, the Texas Corn Producers, Oklahoma Wheat and others with us. We also have lenders and others involved and that helps open a lot of doors.”
Clark said the idea of an annual issues summit came from Minnesota corn growers. “They have supported what we were doing. They also had a summit every year and some of our board members visited their meeting and liked what they saw.”
The Summit will be held at the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City Sept. 8-10. Registration begins on Sunday and early registrants may participate in several roundtable discussions Sunday afternoon. Also on the agenda is a wine tasting, discussion of youth in agriculture and use of smart phones on the farm and ranch.
For more information on the summit contact:Phone: 806.763.2676 or Email: [email protected]