OKLAHOMA

• F E E D I N G YO U R FA M I LY, G R O W I N G O U R R E S O U R C E S •

AGRICULTURE

Oklahoma's Ag industry thrives thanks to family farms and ranches
Digital Edition Presented by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services www.healthsciences.okstate.edu

Home on the Ranch

Growing the Economy

Creating food and fiber to feed the world

Sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry // www.OK-agriculture.com // 2013

Financing Rural Oklahoma – One Member at a Time
Farm Credit Associations in Oklahoma are financial cooperatives owned by the farmers, ranchers and rural customers we serve. Because Farm Credit is member-owned, we are focused on and responsive to the needs of our members. Farm & R anch Land Financing • Country Homes Recreational Property • Appr aisals Oper ating Costs • Livestock • Equipment AgPreference 800-727-3276 American AgCredit 800-466-1146 Chisholm Trail Farm Credit 800-251-3722 Farm Credit of Central Oklahoma 800-585-2421 Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma 866-245-3633 Farm Credit of Enid 800-814-6407 Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma 800-299-3465

www.okfarmcredit.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OKLAHOMA
AGRICULTURE
• F E E D I N G YO U R FA M I LY, G R O W I N G O U R R E S O U R C E S •

2013

9 A Look Inside 10 Oklahoma Agriculture Overview

Crops, Plants & Forestry
14 Fields of Gold
Wheat boosts state’s economy and provides healthy benefits State’s Forestry Services readies residents for wildfires

22 Fire Safety First

Animals & Livestock
26 Equipped for Equine 31 Champion Kids
Horse shows, breeders and exhibitors call Oklahoma home Livestock shows propel future leaders Tradition meets the future at A Bar Ranch Learn more about your favorite beef products Deer farms produce prized big game for Oklahoma hunting ranches World has an appetite for Oklahoma pork

32 The Business of Beef 39 A Cut Above 40 Big Bucks

46 Pork Pride

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

oklahoma Agriculture 2013

Economic Development
50 Growing the Economy
Poultry and other agriculture industries create jobs for Oklahomans

Agricultural Education
74 Ag in Action
Diverse agritourism destinations use fun to connect visitors to agriculture Participate in your own county fair to learn more about agriculture Langston University conducts world-class goat research in north-central Oklahoma

Oklahoma Food & Wine
54 Value of the Vines
New law, rich climate uncork state’s wine industry Marketing program promotes local producers’ importance to state Local produce operations crop up in urban Oklahoma Blue and Gold Sausage Co. supports youth programs

79 Win a Blue Ribbon 80 A Hidden Gem

58 Made in Oklahoma

Environment & Conservation
84 Streams of Success
Oklahoma farmers and ranchers lead the nation in water quality efforts

64 Small Farms in the City

70 Bringing Home the Bacon

On the Cover The Armitage family of Claremore, Okla., preserves the ranching way of life. PHOTO BY BRIAN MCCORD

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OK-AGRICULTURE.COM
CROpS, pLANTS & FORESTRy

Visit us online at

A LOOK INSIDE

Fields
of

Wheat boosts state’s economy, provides healthy benefits

Gold

Welcome to

Oklahoma state university is home to some of the world’s top wheat research, led by dr. brett carver.

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OkLAHOmA AgRiCuLTuRE

Ok-AgRiCuLTuRE.COm

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Digital
Edition
optimized for online
Each article can be read online, as a web article or in our digital magazine.

OKLAHOMA

AGRICULTURE
Hello from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry,
I’d like to welcome you to the inaugural issue of Oklahoma Agriculture. Our state is home to a strong agriculture industry comprised of diverse crops, international exports and producers committed to protecting our natural resources. With this magazine we hope to promote agriculture, educate consumers and showcase our producers. Agriculture is the second largest industry in Oklahoma, annually contributing $36.5 billion to the state’s economy and providing approximately 188,000 jobs. However, the scope of agriculture’s role can be overlooked. The reality is this: The work of Oklahoma’s ag producers is essential in your life and mine every single day, from the food we eat to the fiber we wear. Within these pages are a variety of stories highlighting the various people, products and programs that make up our industry. It’s my hope these articles will offer a more personal look at the industry providing for you and your family. I’d like to extend a very special thank you to those whose stories and sponsorships are featured in this issue. Without the help of our supporters, this project would not be possible. At the department, we work with the state’s producers to ensure you can enjoy a healthy, abundant and affordable product. To borrow from our Made in Oklahoma program, agriculture is good for you and good for Oklahoma. I hope this magazine leaves you with pride for Oklahoma agriculture and encourages you to support the industry by purchasing Oklahoma products. Thank you for reading. Sincerely,

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• FE ED

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ING YO U R FA M I LY, GRO WIN G O UR RES OUR CES •

OKL

Tablet
Spons

OklahO thanks ma's ag ind tO fam ust ily far ry thr ored by ms and ives the Oklah ran oma Depar ches
tment of Agric ulture , Food

Ho e on the m Ran ch

Growin g the Econom y
Creatin and fibe g food r to feed the wor ld gricul ture.c om // 2013

and Fores

try //

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Edition
2013

The special tablet edition is designed especially for use on iPads and other tablet devices.

OKLAHOMA
AGRICULTURE
OK-AGRICULTURE.COM
www.healthsciences.okstate.edu

Jim Reese Commissioner of Agriculture Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

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overview

Oklahoma Agriculture
An in-depth look at the state’s diverse industry
The varied agriculture
important to the state, contributing $903 million to the economy in 2011 and providing close to 16,000 jobs in production and processing. Oklahoma’s pork producers are leading exporters to Japan and Mexico. But local agriculture is more than just commodities. The vibrant industry encompasses everything from agribusiness and university research to environmental efforts, such as water cleanup. Keeping up with the local food movement sweeping the nation, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry promotes the hard work of farmers and producers with the Made in Oklahoma program, as well as the Farm to School Program. State farmers educate consumers on where their food comes from through Community Supported Agriculture programs, produce stands and farmers markets. And it doesn’t stop there. Oklahoma’s growing agritourism industry shows visitors the importance of agriculture through fun experiences at orchards, hunting lodges, ranch bedand-breakfasts, vineyards and more. industry is big business in Oklahoma. The mostly flat state, part of the Great Plains, is home to a vast number of wheat fields, cattle pastures and land used to raise the state’s top commodities, including hogs, broilers (chickens raised for meat) and hay. In fact, 34.7 million acres of the state’s 44.8 million acres are used for farming. With 85,000 farms averaging 406 acres each, it’s not hard to see why Oklahoma stands up well to the rest of the country in terms of agriculture. The Sooner State ranks second in the country in both rye and canola production, fourth in beef cattle, and fifth in both winter wheat production and all cattle and calves. Cattle and calves are the state’s top agricultural commodity, and in 2011, the sector brought a whopping $2.649 billion to the state’s economy. The cattle industry made up 53 percent of all commodity cash receipts and 65 percent of all livestock cash receipts that year. As the No. 2 commodity, hogs and pork production is also very

Oklahoma is known for its red soil – one of 2,500 different soil types found in the state – which is red because of iron content.

of Oklahoma’s 85,000 farms and ranches are family owned.
The average Oklahoma farm is

97% 406
acres in size.

What’s Online
Access more agriculture facts at OK-agriculture.com.

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Digital Edition Presented by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services

The growing season ranges from

days in the Panhandle Region to

168

75%
of all land area in Oklahoma.

Farmland accounts for more than

days in southeast Oklahoma.
Winter wheat, the state’s top crop, is planted in the fall and harvested in early summer. Most wheat is grown in north-central Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is home to more than

238

$2.6 billion
to the state’s economy.

Beef cattle contribute

agritourism destinations.
Oklahoma ranks in the top ten states for five agricultural commodities. The state is 2nd in rye production, 2nd in canola, 4th in the number of beef cattle operations, 5th in winter wheat and 7th in pecans.

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Agriculture directly creates more than 138,000 jobs for Oklahomans.

rye

canola

beef cattle

winter wheat

pecans
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Top Agriculture Products
Oklahoma’s top commodities, based on cash receipts
1. Cattle and Calves
As the state’s top commodity, cattle and calves brought $ 2.649 billion to the state’s economy in 2011. Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in both cattle and beef cow operations.

6. Milk and Dairy products
The Sooner State produced 927 million pounds of milk from about 53,000 head of milk cows in 2011. Total cash receipts for the commodity were $ 202 million.

2. swine
Oklahoma’s pork production and processing industry provides almost 16,000 jobs and more than $ 636.7 million in sales. The No. 2 commodity contributed $ 903 million in 2011.

7. Corn for grain
In 2011, Oklahoma’s production of corn for grain brought $103 million to the state, from 380,000 acres of the crop producing 17.1 million bushels.

3. Poultry and Eggs
In 2011, broilers brought in 12.3 percent of Oklahoma’s livestock cash receipts and made up 11.7 percent of all commodity cash receipts. Broiler production reached 214.7 million birds in 2011.

8. Soybeans
As the No. 8 commodity for Oklahoma, soybeans contributed $40 million to the economy in 2011. The crop is important for animal agriculture, and the industry consumes the meal from nearly 40 million bushels of soybeans each year.

4. Winter Wheat
Oklahoma’s No. 4 commodity is planted in the state from September through the beginning of November and harvested in late May to early July. In 2012, the state harvested 4.2 million acres of wheat – a significant increase from the previous year. The state ranks fifth in the nation for winter wheat.

9. Cotton and Cottonseed
Oklahoma planted 415,000 acres of cotton lint in 2011, with a production value of $ 30.24 million for the year. Cottonseed brought $ 6.84 million to the economy as well, and together the crops take the ninth spot on the state’s commodity list.

5. Hay
In 2011, Oklahoma harvested 2.5 million acres of hay, with a total production of 2.33 million tons. Cash receipts for hay totaled $255 million for the year.

10. Peanuts
Peanuts, which are actually a member of the legume family, round out Oklahoma’s top ten commodities, with a production value of $20.79 million in 2011.

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crops, plants & forestry

Fields
of

Wheat boosts state’s economy, provides healthy benefits

Gold

Oklahoma State University is home to some of the world’s top wheat research, led by Dr. Brett Carver.

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Wheat fields like this can be seen all over Oklahoma. Wheat is the state’s top crop. Photo courtesy of Todd Johnson/oklahoma state university

Photography by Brian McCord

Lush, rolling wheat fields

as far as the eye can see are an iconic image of the Oklahoma landscape. The largest plant commodity in the state, with an average of 5.2 million acres planted each year, wheat annually contributes over $1 billion to Oklahoma’s economy. And there’s no question when it comes to wheat’s reception from consumers – humans have made this staple crop a part of their diet for more than 10,000 years. For the state’s wheat farmers, growing this golden product means feeding families. “Oklahoma wheat producers are loyal not only to their product but also to the consumers they serve,” says Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. “Even in the face of challenging growing conditions, wheat producers persevere each day working to ensure the supermarket shelves are filled with healthy wheat products like bread. These farmers take great

Dr. Brett Carver conducts a wheat breeding research project at Oklahoma State University.

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pride in knowing their product helps feed the world.” Thanks in part to the research of Oklahoma State University’s Wheat Improvement Team, the state’s farmers enjoy ample wheat-growing efficiency. The team is comprised of interdisciplinary scientists who are responsible for developing enriched wheat seed varieties. Cooperating with other state, federal and private researchers, the team works to strengthen the state’s industry by refining the plant’s genes. Dr. Brett Carver leads the group. A regents professor in wheat breeding and genetics, Carver has been part of the wheat research team at OSU for 25 years, taking over the direction of the program in 1998. A proverbial steward of the Oklahoma wheat industry, he’s only the third wheat breeder at OSU since the 1940s. “We take advantage of the changes nature has made and then replicate them overnight,” Carver says, describing the work his team does. Through disciplined research, Carver and his team develop products planted in fields across the state. In fact, more than 40 percent of all the wheat planted in Oklahoma are varieties that were developed at OSU. Through years of study and research, Carver has generated wheat varieties with particular strengths to help farmers increase their yields, such as drought tolerance and disease resistance. Wheat’s role as a major crop and contributor to Oklahoma’s economy almost pales in comparison to its ability to answer a more pressing issue – alleviating world hunger. The crop has the potential to be a significant player in the dilemma, but unfortunately, this isn’t the area often discussed on the national stage. “A billion people consume less than 1,800 calories a day,” Carver says. “It doesn’t have to be that way. Unfortunately, products of mainstream media have derailed the wheat conversation focusing on allergies and false nutrient information. We should focus our attention from here to where it should be.” Wheat, an affordable and available source of protein, provides 21 percent of all food calories in the world. In 94 developing countries, 4.5 billion

Wheat is put into a plastic wrap during the breeding process, part of the research currently being conducted at the Oklahoma State University Wheat Breeding and Genetics facility in Stillwater, Okla.

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Wheat is the primary grain used in U.S. grain products – approximately 3/4 of all U.S. grain products are made from wheat flour.

Wheat is grown in 42 states.

A bushel of wheat makes about

pounds of pasta, or

Wheat is a member of the grass family that produces a dry, oneseed fruit commonly called a kernel.

servings of spaghetti.

42 210

of the wheat grown in the United States is used domestically.

50%

wheat
is an affordable and available source of protein, providing 21 percent of all food calories in the world.

5.2 million
acres of wheat are planted in Oklahoma each year.

An average of

More than 40 percent of all the wheat planted in Oklahoma are varieties that were developed at Oklahoma State University.

people rely on wheat as their main source of protein.

4.5 billion

In 94 developing countries,

Wheat is grown on more land area worldwide than any other crop, and is a close third to rice and corn in total world production.
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Wheat is a good source of iron and B vitamins, including folic acid.

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Digital Edition Presented by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services

people rely on the grain as their main source of protein. However, consumers in developed countries have begun to remove wheat from their diets; associating it with increases in obesity and gluten allergies. Misinformation has been disseminated; linking wheat to the recent rise in celiac disease, a gluten intolerant genetic disorder. As a longtime staple of the human diet, grains like wheat are an essential source of fiber. Unlike the fiber found in fruits and vegetables, wheat fiber aids in heart health and laxation. Judi Adams, a registered dietician and President of the Wheat Foods Council, says, “Most Americans can and should be eating gluten because it works as a probiotic in gut and colon bacteria.” She adds that wheat provides over half of the iron in the diet of Americans and is a good source of B vitamins including folic acid, an essential in the diets of women of child-bearing age. – Kirby Smith

Wheat is grown in greenhouses for testing and research at the wheat breeding and genetics facility at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.

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Stillwater Milling Company
512 E. 6th Ave. • Stillwater, OK 74076 (800) 364-6804 • www.stillwatermill.com

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crops, plants & forestry

We’re trying to get communities to recognize there is a risk for wildfires, and for them to be fire – George geissler adapted.
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Digital Edition Presented by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services

Fire Safety First
State’s Forestry Services readies residents for wildfires
Photography by BRIAN MCCORD

fires in Oklahoma, remember one simple thing: There will always be wildland fires, because the state’s ecosystems depend upon them. That realization, says an official from the Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helps folks be better prepared when fires occur. “We’re trying to get communities to recognize there is a risk for

When it comes to wildland

wildfires, and for them to be better prepared for when they occur – what we call being fire-adapted,” says George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester. “You’re not going to keep all fires away or prevent them, but what you can do is make sure that the valuables you have are arranged in such a way that you don’t risk a catastrophic loss.” Many communities lie within what is known as the wildland urban interface, which is comprised of areas

where homes are built near lands prone to wildfires. To help those communities become more aware of wildfire dangers and enact a preparedness plan, OFS uses a variety of methods. They provide the Community Wildfire Protection Plan that allows communities to work with fire and natural resource professionals to assess their area’s risk factors and determine an action plan. Another tool OFS uses to promote
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readiness is the Firewise program. This national program provides information and recognition to communities engaged in preparing for wildfire. The communities must meet a set of criteria to be part of the program. Currently, Oklahoma ranks second in the nation for the number of Firewise communities. “The Firewise program recognizes communities for preparing for wildland fires by evaluating risk, identifying hazards that are present, and then doing things to lower their risk, such as promoting and creating defensible space around structures, making properties more accessible and teaching residents to be more aware,” Geissler says. “There are thousands of pieces of fire equipment and firefighters in the state, but we are always going to have fires. We’re

trying to keep these firefighters as safe as possible and have the best chance to save lives and property.” OFS personnel also work with individuals to better prepare their homes for when wildfires occur. They use a program called Ready, Set, Go to give homeowners tools to prepare and take action should they need to. Minor adjustments can be made to better protect a home and also to make an area safer for fighting a fire, says Geissler. He recommends making sure house numbers are plainly visible, putting metal screens on vents to help prevent embers from blowing in, and pruning trees and other vegetation around the house. More information on this is available on the OFS website (www.forestry.ok.gov/firewise).

Preparing Homeowners

“Most houses don’t catch fire from a big wall of fire,” Geissler says. “It’s the blowing embers that get sucked up into vents or pile up on roofs and near foundations.” Droughts in recent years have exacerbated the problem of wildfires and affected the forestry industry in general. “In southeast Oklahoma, we have lost thousands of acres of regeneration projects,” Geissler says. “Trees planted by private landowners, foresty companies and both state and Federal agencies have died, and we’ve had to go back and replant a second time. We are even losing mature trees. Many are succumbing to insects and disease because they are no longer able to fight them off because of the drought.” – John McBryde

Drought EffectS

forest fires
By the end of 2010, OFS responded to over 1,740 fires, which burned roughly 130,000 acres in its initial attack (protection) area. They also provided suppression assistance on an additional 170 fires outside of the protection area in form of aircraft, wildland fire crews and tactical assistance.

$2 billion
to the economy annually.

The forestry industry contributes more than

Approximately 25 percent of the state’s land is forested.
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animals & livestock

Sisters Morgan and Madison Vance raise, train and show American Paint Horses and Pinto Horses. They live on Diamond V Ranch in Pawnee, Okla.

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Equipped for Equine
Horse shows, breeders and exhibitors call Oklahoma home
Photography by Frank Ordonez

Oklahoma is known as the

horse show capital of the world and home to some of the most elite breeders, trainers and exhibitors in the business. The state hosts more national and world championship shows than any other state. Horses and exhibitors travel thousands of miles and come from across the United States and several other countries to vie for world titles. Participants bring their horses to compete in a variety of events including halter, western pleasure, reining, hunter under saddle, timed events, live racing and numerous other disciplines. Numerous breeds and associations have multi-year contracts with these

top-notch facilities. “As ‘The Horse Show Capital of the World,’ Oklahoma annually sees thousands of visitors from all 50 states and numerous countries in Europe and South America,” says Michael J. Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We know their impact exceeds $185 million annually in direct spending just for the shows held in Oklahoma City and a significant segment of the Oklahoma equine industry is in this state because of the shows held here each year.” The economic impact across the state is impressive and far-reaching. Horse owners eat at local restaurants, spend nights in hotels, pay local veterinarians and farriers, buy trucks

oklahoma hosts more national and world championship shows than any other state.

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Top: Madison Vance works with her horse Why Not Willie and 2013 filly Nellie. Above: Dr. Karen Kapp-Vance (center) has instilled her love for horses and the ranching way of life into her daughters, Madison and Morgan. The family competes in national and world championship horse shows, many of which are held in Oklahoma.

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and trailers, and support local feed and tack stores through the purchase of hay and feed and other supplies. “In a recent report by Visit Tulsa, 33.2 percent of the total room nights occupied were from agricultural events with the next closest sector, religion, at 12.5 percent,” explains Brandi Herndon, agribusiness manager for the Tulsa State Fair. “These numbers are impressive, and Expo Square is proud to host so many equine and livestock events that produce such an impact for the Tulsa community.” Equine events are economic drivers for both urban and rural areas but they also provide wonderful opportunities for families to work together to achieve goals.   One such family calls home to the small town of Pawnee, Okla. Gary Vance and Dr. Karen Kapp-Vance attended Oklahoma State University together and then decided to start their “Diamond V Ranch” horse operation in Gary’s hometown of Pawnee. Karen received her veterinary degree from Oklahoma State University and began her veterinary practice and horse training operation at their barn where they raise, train and show American Paint Horses and Pinto Horses. Gary and Karen were fortunate to be blessed with good horses, good clients and most importantly, two daughters, Morgan and Madison. “Our girls have grown up in the Oklahoma horse industry,” Karen says. “They have learned to set goals and they work hard to achieve them. It has been very rewarding for Gary and me to share this industry with our children and our many horse friends.” The family’s barn is just a short walk from the house, and the girls began competing as soon as they could stay in the saddle. Morgan and Madison both compete in several different breed events, including American Paint Horse Association shows, Pinto Horse Association of America shows and the Palomino Horse Breeders of America shows. Morgan and Madison Vance have won numerous World and National titles with their horses guided by the steady hand of Dr. Vance as both mom and trainer.
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The Vance sisters of Pawnee, Okla., have grown up in the equine industry. They, along with their parents, raise, train and show American Paint Horses and Pinto Horses on the family’s Diamond V Ranch.

The shows have also provided many opportunities for the family from scholarship opportunities for Morgan and Madison to developing a network of friends and business clients throughout the United States. Morgan has also utilized her experience working with her mom in breeding, raising and training horses to develop it into a supervised agricultural experience as an FFA member. The family considers itself very fortunate to live in Oklahoma, where the equine industry is strong and supportive. Darrell Bilke, executive vice president of the Pinto Horse Association of America, Inc., agrees. “Since the beginning of equine competition, Oklahoma asserted itself and has continued to remain one of the premier equine states in the world.” – Blayne Arthur

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Animals & livestock

Champion Kids
klahoma youth exhibited more than 15,000 livestock and horse projects at the 2012 Tulsa State Fair. And while only a few youth took home top honors for prized animals, the experiences make them all champions. “We’re raising champion kids and leaders of tomorrow,” says Brandi Herndon, agribusiness manager of the Tulsa State Fair. “I truly believe that we are raising the best kids. They’re learning everything at a young age from responsibility to leadership skills to communication skills.” She has heard it from employers, who say youth livestock ownership molds the type of hardworking, dedicated and responsible workers they want to hire. Tyler Norvell agrees. He is executive director of the Oklahoma Youth Expo, the world’s largest junior livestock show. “To me, the Youth Expo and livestock shows in general are an investment in human capital by Oklahomans,” he says. “The purpose of our program is to get kids involved in agriculture and learn about agriculture through hands-on experiences. We hope they stay home and contribute to the future of Oklahoma … to be a part of our growth and our success here.” At the 2013 Oklahoma Youth Expo, more than 6,500 young Oklahomans, ages 9 to 18, exhibited more than 13,000 head of livestock. The expo presented more than $1.1 million in prize money, awards and scholarships during the 12-day event in March, Norvell says.

Livestock shows propel future leaders

O

An Oklahoma 4-H member participates in the swine show at the Oklahoma Youth Expo.

Of the money presented, a record-breaking 2013 Sale of Champions generated $850,000. And the expo awarded $200,000 in scholarships based on academics or livestock performance. Those scholarships must be used at Oklahoma universities and colleges. Historically, about 90 to 95 percent of recipients use them to further their educations in the state of Oklahoma. In 2012, the Tulsa State Fair awarded $150,866 in premiums and more than $25,000 in awards to Oklahoma youth, Herndon says. In addition, the fair distributed $50,000 in scholarships and more than $500,000 was raised in the Junior Livestock Auction. The youth grand total exceeded $725,000, accounting for about 80 percent of total fair awards related to livestock and horse exhibition. “We take a lot of pride here in offering these opportunities,” Herndon says. – Joanie Stiers

Over the last 10 years, the Oklahoma Youth Expo has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to more than 1,100 youth. The scholarships must be used at Oklahoma universities and colleges.

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animals & livestock

Business
The

of

BEEF

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Tradition meets the future on A Bar Ranch

Photography by Brian McCord

horses working the cattle, A Bar Ranch is the picture of tradition, but owners Mike and Martha Armitage are also focused on the future and incorporate marketing and technology into running their business. The Armitages have been in the business close to four decades and run three complementary livestock divisions – a base cow herd of approximately 1,300 commercial animals, a quarter horse breeding and sales operation, and Armitage Livestock, a marketing company that sells primarily bred cows and heifers.

With cowboys on quarter

Mike and Martha both grew up in the cattle business, and Mike’s first partner was a great aunt. He leased her land to graze his cows. Today, like 97 percent of the cattle ranchers in Oklahoma, A Bar is a family business with Martha managing customer lists, building sales catalogs and running the office. Oldest son Merrit oversees one of the ranches and handles all advertising, layout design and video marketing, while youngest son Turner, a college student, does most of the photography and helps out when he’s not in school. A Bar Ranch is actually two ranches – one in Pryor and the

The cowboys at A Bar Ranch work cattle on horseback, which reduces stress for the cattle herd.

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Ranching is a family affair for the Armitage family of Claremore, Okla. The entire family, including Merrit, Michelle, Martha, Mike and Turner, manages the operation.

other in Claremore, which is also the company headquarters. Combined, the two ranches have a capacity of approximately 1,000 cows. A Bar also utilizes 18,000 acres of leased property. The cow herd business involves marketing steer calves direct to backgrounders – who purchase young cattle for feeding – or to send to feedlots when they wean from their mothers. The heifer calves are retained for breeding. “Armitage livestock incorporates several added-value options to the bred stock that we market,” Mike says. “Those include everything from genetics to technological advances, one of which is ultrasound. This aging of embryos enables us to market and offer the public tighter calving periods and as an added-value item.” The family hosts a popular annual sale event, the Fall Gathering, scheduled the first Saturday each November. “We held the first one in 1990, and it has grown over the years. Today, we sell approximately 3,000 head of bred heifers and young cows each year,” Mike says. The success of the Fall Gathering inspired the Armitages to develop

other sales including seven auctions each year of bred replacement females, and they market privately and through direct sales to other ranches. All told, the ranch sells up to 18,000 bred heifers and cows annually in a state that has an estimated 5.1 million cows and calves. The beef industry is the largest agriculture segment in Oklahoma and valued at approximately $4.8 billion. Horses are an integral part of the ranch. “We’re still a traditional operation,” Mike says. “Everything we do with the cattle, we do on horseback. Because of the difficult topography of the real estate we have our cattle on, plus the location and timing of being able to gather and work our livestock, horses are required. There really is no other quality way to handle livestock. We use horses for the safety and ease of handling the cattle with less stress.” The Armitages’ respect for horses led them to develop their own lineage of quarter horses, and that commitment has grown into a significant business. Still, cattle is A Bar’s primary business, and Mike says the future is exciting, even as the industry as a whole is changing. He says he recently

$2.6 billion
Oklahoma has an estimated 5.1 million cattle and calves.
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The beef industry is the largest agriculture segment in Oklahoma and valued at approximately

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Brothers Turner and Merrit Armitage check the cattle herd on their family’s ranch in Claremore, Okla.

We’re still a traditional operation. Everything we do with the cattle, we do on horseback.
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– mike armitage

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Digital Edition Presented by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services

Cattle is the primary business for A Bar Ranch. Steer calves are direct-marketed to backgrounding operations, and heifer calves are kept as replacements.

visited markets in Los Angeles and watched the activities at the meat counters. “Their counters were broken into five or six different types of beef from Kobe all the way to beef specifically out of California,” he says. “Every product on the shelf was a branded product. That trend is going to create new opportunities for people in this business. The specialty markets are going to continue to expand, no doubt. Getting products in one of those niches is extremely important as commercial producers of beef.” – Kim Madlom

Better Beef

Learn the nutritional benefits of Oklahoma-raised beef

Most people know that beef is rich in protein, a macronutrient we need to consume daily to maintain a healthy metabolism. But beef has other nutritional benefits in addition to protein. In fact, beef is one of the most nutrient-rich foods, calorie-for-calorie. Here are some reasons to make beef part of your healthy diet: Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, www.beef.org

nutrient rich

Beef is a great source of phosphorus, which is necessary for strong bones, iron, which carries oxygen in the blood to all cells to prevent fatigue, and B-complex vitamins, which help release energy from food.

food source for protein, vitamin B12 and zinc.

No.1

Beef is the

What’s Online
Learn more facts about the Oklahoma beef industry at OK-agriculture.com

A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 50 percent of the daily value of protein, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
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animals & livestock

A Cut Above

Learn more about your favorite beef products

sirloin Chuck Rib Plate shank & Brisket Flank Short Loin Round

E

ver been looking through the meat counter at your local grocery store and wondered what certain cuts of beef are? This handy chart, with information from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, provides a list of the most popular retail beef cuts and the part of the steer where they are from.

Rib short loin sirloin round chuck brisket/shank plate/flank other

Rib Roast, Rib Steak, Ribeye Roast, Ribeye Steak, Back Ribs Porterhouse Steak, T-Bone Steak, Top Loin, Tenderloin Roast, Tenderloin Steak Tri-Tip Roast, Tri-Tip Steak, Top Sirloin Steak Top Round Steak, Bottom Round Roast, Bottom Round Steak, Eye Round Roast, Eye Round Steak, Round Tip Roast, Round Tip Steak, Sirloin Tip Center Roast, Sirloin Tip Center Steak, Sirloin Tip Side Steak Chuck T-Bone Pot Roast, Chuck Pot Roast, Chuck Steak, Chuck Eye Steak, Shoulder Top Blade Steak, Shoulder Pot Roast, Shoulder Steak, Shoulder Center, Shoulder Petite Tender, Shoulder Petite Tender Medallions, Boneless Short Ribs Shank Cross Cut, Brisket Flat Cut Skirt Steak, Flat Steak Ground Beef, Cubed Steak, Beef for Stew, Beef for Kabobs, Beef for Stir Fry or Fajitas

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animals & livestock

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Big Bucks
Deer farms produce prized big game for Oklahoma hunting ranches
Photography by Brian McCord

White-tailed deer are the

most prized big game animal in the country, and several enterprising Oklahoma farmers have made a business of producing some of the highest-quality deer found anywhere. Oklahoma has approximately 220 licensed deer farms, according to Dr. Justin Roach, staff veterinarian for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. He says approximately two-thirds are focused on the industry of breeding

Skip West starts each day by feeding and caring for his deer at Circle W Whitetails in Maramec, Okla.

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and selling white-tailed deer, while the rest raise deer as a hobby.

Farming for the Future

For farmers like Carl “Skip” West and Kevin Wallace, raising whitetailed deer is serious business. “I’m a wildlife enthusiast, and I’ve always loved white-tailed deer,” says Wallace, owner of Wallahachie Whitetails in Wellston, located northeast of Oklahoma City. After researching the opportunity, Wallace started raising deer in 2003, and currently has a breeding operation with 100 animals. “I am passionate about white-tailed deer, and this industry lets me live my passion.” Wallace’s business model is maintaining breeder stock and selling three-year-old bucks to the Wilderness Refuge, a hunting ranch he co-owns. He and West, who owns Circle W Whitetails in Meramec, are both active in state and national whitetailed deer farming associations, and both praise Oklahoma leadership for adopting legislation supportive of the industry. Wallace is confident the farmed deer business has staying power. “A banker once asked me if farming white-tailed deer was like the ostrich business (which fizzled after a few years),” Wallace says. He says no. “We have an end market as long as people have the opportunity to hunt, and hunting is a multibillion-dollar industry across the nation,” he explains. “A whitetail is a majestic animal and it’s the most sought-after big game animal in North America.” West also has confidence in the farmed deer industry and sees his farm as something to pass along to his two sons. “I grew up on a cow/calf farm and realized that business wasn’t going to support multiple families,” West says. “I want my sons to live where I live and stay on my farm. I can reach that goal with farming whitetail.” West entered the business in 2005 after learning about it during an outdoor show and doing research on his own. He now has 150 animals.

Skip West says that raising white-tailed deer will allow him to pass on the farming tradition to his children.

Genetics play a key role in deer farming, according to both Wallace and West.

Breeding Better Bucks

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I am passionate about white-tailed deer, and this industry lets me live  my passion.

– Carl “Skip” West

“We hone in on the best of the best,” West says. This results in healthy animals and beautiful antler racks prized by hunters. “In regards to antlers, the genetics of the animals that are being bred in these farmed facilities are far superior to the wild animals,” Roach says. “That superiority can be seen in the antler growth rate, length and mass. The deer are carefully bred and intensively managed to focus on these traits. That’s what sells the hunt.” According to West, the hunting market is vital to the farmed deer industry. “Without that, there would be no deer farming,” he says. “The deer are too expensive to be raised as a food source.” At its heart, deer farming is still farming, West says. “We are Oklahoma farmers and in this state, we’re treated like every other farmer. We found a niche market that we can make money on marginal land that wouldn’t work for grazing cattle, but it works for deer because deer don’t graze. Deer nibble grass, but they eat feed.” It isn’t uncommon for a deer farmer to spend several thousand dollars on a breeder animal and then sell a high-quality buck to a hunting ranch for as much as $6,000. Hunters will pay between $10,000 and $12,000 at many preserves for the hunting experience, a price that includes a stay at the lodge, food and the ultimate goal – a mounted trophy. – Kim Madlom

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Animals & LIvestock

Pride
World has an appetite for Oklahoma pork
Photography by Jeff Adkins

Pork

Wathina and Chuck Luthi,

both raised in Oklahoma farming families, started their business in 1979 with two sows. Today, the Luthis have a commercial operation with 4,900 sows producing 100,000 pigs annually. Located in Ellis County, Luthi Farms remains a family-owned business that now includes the couple’s two sons and daughters-inlaw. Luthi Farms, a farrow-to-wean operation, is a contract grower and production partner with the Maschhoffs, a fifth-generation family business in Illinois owned by two brothers. The partnership, Wathina Luthi says, works well for both. “The partnership gives us the opportunity to focus on what we truly like to do and what we do best – raise pigs,” says Luthi, who is a member of the Oklahoma Pork Council and serves on the National

Pork Board. “We take care of the sows while they are pregnant and then take care of the pigs until they are ready to be placed on a truck. The Maschhoffs will continue to grow them out in the Midwest where they are closer to the final processing.” Luthi Farms has witnessed dramatic changes in the industry over the years, including the way pigs are raised. “All the farms used to raise the animals outside, where they were exposed to the weather and wildlife,” Luthi says. “We’ve brought them indoors and improved their health. We pay attention to them individually, provide routine veterinary care, and every person who touches one of these animals has had extensive training. The environment is safe, calm and comfortable.”

improving swine care

Hogs rank as the state’s second-largest agricultural commodity in terms of revenue. Nationally, the Oklahoma pork industry is eighth among all 50 states.

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Pork is the third-most exported product from Oklahoma. Pigs from enterprises like Luthi Farms produce meat that is shipped throughout the United States and around the world. “Mexico is the No. 1 export market by volume in terms of pounds of product, and also for value, but just barely exceeding the export value we send to Japan,” says Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council. Access to the world market has created new opportunities. “Twenty-one percent of the pork exported from the United States is from muscle cuts, and 29 percent is from pork variety products,” Luthi says. “This allows us to sell cuts we don’t traditionally use in this country, such as ears and front and hind feet. We can now export to consumers who love those types of products, and that makes our pigs more valuable.” In 2011, pork was Oklahoma’s second-largest agricultural commodity. The state’s pork industry ranks eighth in the country in terms of total number of hogs and pigs, and fifth in terms of the sow herd. Roughly 8 million baby pigs are born in Oklahoma in any given year, and

A Top Export for Oklahoma

A Major State Industry

those animals will produce approximately 4.8 billion servings of pork. “Exporting goods creates new wealth in Oklahoma,” Luthi says. And Lindsey adds that the impact on rural communities is substantial. “We estimate there are about 15,000 people who work in the pork industry in the state,” Lindsey says. “Virtually all those jobs are in rural Oklahoma because that’s where the farms are located. Over the last 15 to 20 years, well over $1 billion has been invested in fixed assets for the state’s pork industry, primarily in rural Oklahoma. Taxes on those assets pay for local schools, roads, fire departments and other services.” He adds that “the pork industry is a permanent part of those communities and from an economic driver, we would suggest that outside of oil and gas, there isn’t a more successful economic model than the pork industry in the last two decades.” – Kim Madlom

15,000
people work in the oklahoma pork industry.
Roughly 8 million baby pigs are born in Oklahoma each year.

an estimated

What’s Online
Learn more about modern swine production at OK-agriculture.com

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economic development

Growing theEconomy
Poultry and other ag industries create jobs for Oklahomans
Photography by Brian McCord

To get an idea of how much

the agriculture industry affects the lives of Oklahomans, consider chickens. These would be chickens processed at the Tyson Foods Inc. processing plant in Broken Bow, Okla. In business since 1970 and operated by Tyson since 1986, the facility is part of a complex that also includes a plant 40 miles away in Grannis, Ark. The Broken Bow facility has approximately 1,700 employees and processes 1.3 million birds per week to produce more than 7 million pounds of fresh poultry. Its extensive operation involves 200 family-owned poultry farms with nearly 900 total houses for

production. The complex maintains a broiler hatchery, feed mill in Craig, a live bird-hauling operation, two truck shops and a broiler/ breeder management staff. In the last year, Tyson Broken Bow has purchased more than 3.75 million bushels of locally grown grains for feed production. “The Grannis/Broken Bow Complex is an integral part of the local agricultural community,” says Derek Baucom, complex manager. “Through our contract family farm relations, local grain purchases and involvement with local agricultural organizations, we work to promote and grow the agricultural community.”

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Indeed, just as the Broken Bow operation directly and indirectly touches the lives of residents statewide, so does the agriculture industry in general. The agriculture industry represents much more than just the farmers and ranchers who produce food and fiber. “As an industry, agriculture itself is going to create jobs for farmers, laborers and ranchers to generate commodities,” says Dr. Dave Shideler, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. “But it doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Those farmers and ranchers are going to be connected to manufacturing – for example, energy sectors or wholesale and retail trade – to the extent that they have to buy inputs to produce those commodities, everything from seed and fertilizer to equipment and fencing.” A portion of the indirect impact from agriculture creates what Shideler calls an induced impact, which can basically be seen as positive economic factors resulting from success in a business. “It relates to the fact that when farmers and ranchers sell their commodities, they generate income and then turn around and spend that income on things like cars, furniture and clothing,” Shideler says. “Or they might invest some of that money in other businesses. So the induced impact is about capturing that household income. That also creates an economic stimulus effect.” Shideler was part of a team from the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics that released a study a few years ago showing agriculture’s contribution to the state’s economy. Using statistics from 2008, the study showed that agriculturerelated services directly contributed 138,124 jobs and more than $4.3 billion of gross domestic product to the state’s economy. Indirectly, agriculture led to an additional 27,692 jobs and $2.7 billion in revenue, and its induced impact resulted in 22,478 jobs and $1.4 billion.

direct and indirect effects

Oklahoma Agriculture Creates Jobs
the state’s agriculture industry directly contributed 138,124 jobs

and more than $4.3 billion of GDP to Oklahoma’s economy.

Indirectly, agriculture led to an additional

Impressive Numbers

jobs and $2.7 billion in revenue.

27,692

Agriculture’s induced impact resulted in 22,478 jobs and $1.4 billion.

Source: Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics

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Photo courtesy of Tyson

The Tyson facility in Broken Bow, Okla., employs 1,700 people.

Overall, agriculture contributes more than 188,000 jobs and more than $8.5 billion in gross domestic product to Oklahoma. It is believed that the state’s economy would lose 1 in 12 employees if agriculture did not exist in Oklahoma. The recent drought across the state has adversely affected portions of agriculture’s impact on the economy, particularly the cattle industry. However, wheat had a record year for production in 2012, according to Shideler. And business continues to be strong at Tyson Foods in Broken Bow. “We have increased our local grain purchases by 30 percent in the last two years, while also continuing to expand our presence with family farmers to produce broilers for our company,” Baucom says. “The Broken Bow Complex continues to work to provide growth capabilities for all of the local agricultural community.” – John McBryde

weather impacts

Serving from the turnrow to the Capital

What’s Online
See a list of other major agricultural companies who have a presence in Oklahoma at OK-agriculture.com.

www.okiecotton.org
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food & wine

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New laws, rich climate uncork state’s wine industry
Photography by Frank Ordonez

of the

Value
Vines
vineyard and winery in Fairview. “Numerous people told us the wine industry was the coming thing. We started out just selling grapes because they were getting $1,000 an acre. But then we soon found out the real money was in the end product.” The Flamings opened Plymouth Valley Cellars in 2006, and today, their end product consists of nine varietals of wine, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay. “We have an experimental vineyard,” Flaming says, “where we do a little bit of each.” “I was farming 1,800 acres (of row crops and cattle) at one point, and now we’re down to a five-acre vineyard,” he adds. “It doesn’t sound like much, but it makes about the same amount of money.”

considered a traditional Oklahoma farmer. When he and his wife, Elaine, married in 1966, they began a farming life by raising cattle and growing crops, such as wheat and alfalfa. He also did custom harvesting from south Texas to the Canadian border for 40 years. “I decided it was time to do something else,” he says. So he began raising a crop more associated with France, Italy and Northern California than a farming state like Oklahoma. He began growing grapes. “I was looking for something else to do to try and stay on the farm and keep it going,” says Flaming, who owns Plymouth Valley Cellars, a

Dennis Flaming was once

Dale Pound performs a quality check at Woods & Water Winery, an operation he owns with his wife, Lena.

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Wine is bottled and corked at the Woods & Water Winery in Anadarko, Okla.

oklahoma is home to more than

licensed wineries.
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Value is particularly high at the Woods & Water Winery in Anadarko, where Dale and Lena Pound manage a 600-acre farm with the state’s largest vineyard. In addition to tastings and tours, the winery features a supper club and mystery dinner theater and is a popular location for weddings. It is also unique in the type of grapes it grows, according to Pound. “We can grow the true vinifera grapes, the Old World wine grapes,” he says. “Other areas of the state grow mostly hybrids, but the drier climate here allows us to grow the true wine grapes.”

The Flamings and Pounds aren’t alone when it comes to seeing the value of vineyards and wineries in Oklahoma. From mom-and-pop locations to operations with vineyards spanning hundreds of acres, the number of wineries in the state has grown significantly in the last decade. Today, Oklahoma is home to more than 60 licensed wineries. One reason for the growth is the generally favorable climate for growing grapes throughout the state, which is divided into five distinct wine regions. But the main reason wineries have taken such a foothold in Oklahoma is

Digital Edition Presented by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services

Wineries are a popular agritourism activity for many Oklahomans. Tasting rooms at the wineries offer a unique experience to try the wines before you buy.

changes in state laws having to do with retail sales and some distribution, according to Gary Butler of Summerside Vineyards in Vinita. “Those changes have been slowly coming about,” says Butler, who has served on several wine industry boards and in leadership positions in the Oklahoma Wine and Grape Association along with his wife, Marsha. “One of the first changes was to allow wineries to sell on premises. Other changes have allowed us to sell at festivals and to do self-distribution to liquor stores. Those were big improvements.” The Butlers’ winery, located on historic Route 66, sees a good number of tourists. Like most of Oklahoma’s wineries, Summerside Vineyards has tours and tastings. It also includes a bistro and hosts a variety of events. Indeed, the wine industry has benefited the state’s economy, not the least from tourism dollars. “We’ve had a very positive impact on local tourism and revenue for our local community,” Butler says. “It’s adding some value to the land.” – John McBryde

What’s Online
See a list of all 60-plus Oklahoma wineries at OK-agriculture.com.

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Oklahoma
Marketing program promotes local producers’ importance to state
Photography by Brian McCord

Made in

hot pepper jelly and sell it. Grant took that suggestion to heart after her husband passed away following an eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Her determination, plus the invaluable help from Oklahoma agencies, made her dream a reality. Today, the owner of Suan’s Foods credits statewide resources for molding her business. She says that the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center at Oklahoma State University provided the education that solidified her business foundation, and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Made in Oklahoma Coalition gave her the means to market to the public. In fact, these organizations funded a booth for her and other food makers at the Dallas Gourmet Market, a national food show in Texas. Grant’s jelly won the Gold Award for Best in Class, which introduced her products to small businesses across the country. “It was like a springboard for my business,” a grateful Grant says. More like a catapult. Today, her Jamaican-inspired Scotch bonnet pepper jelly is sold at more than 170 stores in 17 states. The business opportunity enriched her life and widened her horizons. She gives credit to her home state. “I know that I’m fortunate to be in Oklahoma,” Grant says. “I don’t think we realize the resources we have here. The Food & Agricultural Products Center and Made in Oklahoma Coalition are two of the most outstanding programs in the United States, and we should be very proud of what they do and how they promote the state.” The center at OSU provides resources to businesses and entrepreneurs as it strives to keep jobs and revenue in Oklahoma.
Suan Grant owns and operates Suan’s Pepper Jelly, a business that has benefited from the Made in Oklahoma Coalition.

Suan Grant ’s friends often said she should bottle her

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Suan’s Foods in Oklahoma City offers five varieties of Scotch Bonnet Pepper condiments that are sold in 17 states.

The Made in Oklahoma Coalition partners with ODAFF to promote awareness and consumer loyalty for Oklahoma food, says David Brooks, spokesperson for the coalition. The collective marketing project started in 2000, when six food manufacturers worked together to increase sales. Today, 42 dedicated food companies, about 100 restaurants and more than 100 retailers take part. Company membership is exclusive to Oklahoma food makers who market their products to retail grocers and food service establishments. With minimum annual dues, the members receive public relations and marketing services to help them grow their businesses. They range from ice cream companies to natural beef products to sauces and salsas of all types. Restaurants that feature Made in Oklahoma Coalition products on their menus can be considered a Made in Oklahoma Restaurant. Likewise, retailers that sell these products can become Made in Oklahoma Retailers.

Benefits of the Coalition

The coalition website, www.miocoalition.com, features links to all the Oklahoma businesses, restaurants and retailers that participate in the program, as well as recipes that utilize these products. An iPhone application makes the connection even easier. Oklahomamade products are organized by category and fully searchable, and you can find local restaurants near you, wherever you may be in the state. Search “Made in Oklahoma” in the Apple Store to download the app. Studies show 87 percent of Oklahomans would support local products if they knew about them, Brooks says. At the start of the marketing campaign, only 3 percent of respondents could name multiple Oklahoma food companies. By the 10th year, nearly 30 percent named multiple companies. “Our mission is to remind Oklahomans what companies are Oklahoma companies, and it apparently is working,” Brooks says. Today, those food companies employ about 25,000 people and generate $3.5 billion in annual sales,

supporting local

he says. About 15 percent of their business is in the state and 85 percent exported, credited in part to out-of-state marketing campaigns. A solid relationship with customers and meetings among members give the program its successful foundation, Brooks says. Company representatives continue to meet face-to-face on a monthly basis. Even Grant joins in. “Where a lot of small companies go wrong is they don’t join the coalition,” she says. Grant credits 95 percent of her business sales to accommodations of the Made in Oklahoma Coalition and the Food & Agricultural Products Center. “I could not ask for better support,” she says. “Just the richness of knowledge and mentoring, I could not have done what I have done without the two of them.” – Joanie Stiers

What’s Online
Learn more about these Oklahoma resources at OK-agriculture.com.

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SOYBEANS
are

EVERYWHERE!

Home Livestock Feed Industry Food
grow, cook, eat, learn

Serving up recipes, tips and food for thought

Automotive Soy Biodiesel

P.O. Box 578 Claremore, OK 74018 (918) 343-2326

www.oksoy.org
farmflavor.com
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Oklahomans Combat Hunger
Beyond helping connect Oklahomans with local food products, the Made in Oklahoma Coalition actively fights hunger across the state through its ongoing initiatives. The Made in Oklahoma Coalition is a membership organization for Oklahoma food and agricultural producers, processors and manufacturers. Its primary goals are to promote brand awareness and consumer loyalty for Oklahoma food and agricultural products through collective marketing. So it’s a natural extension of its efforts to help address the issues of hunger across Oklahoma, especially in schools. According to Feeding America, the state has 21.4 percent of its residents lacking adequate money for food, well above the national average of 18.2 percent. The coalition reports that one in every five children in Oklahoma is at risk of going to bed hungry each night. Of those in Oklahoma who receive benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, nearly half of the recipients are children. In 2009, the coalition partnered with Orchids Paper Company of Pryor, Okla., to develop a Made in Oklahoma brand of paper towels. Their packaging includes images and lists of products from Oklahoma food companies. The sale of these paper towel rolls supports the Food for Kids Backpack Program, which is a school-based, emergency assistance program that provides weekly backpacks of food to at-risk children. The program is administered by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. And it’s been a major success. Since the program began in 2009, Made in Oklahoma paper towels have generated more than $200,000 to support the backpack program. To learn more about how you can help combat hunger in Oklahoma by supporting Made in Oklahoma initiatives, visit www.miocoalition.com.

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food & wine
Steve Hill owns and operates Phocas Farms in Edmond, Okla., where he grows vegetables for local schools and to be sold to Oklahoma residents.

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Small Farms
in the
Local produce operations crop up in urban Oklahoma
Many Oklahoma produce growers use greenhouses to extend their growing seasons.

CITY
More than

Photography by Frank Ordonez

In a state where wheat

and cattle dominate the rural landscape, farmer Steve Hill grows more than 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables in an urban setting. Hill's operation, Phocas Farms, certainly qualifies as nontraditional by crop choice. He and his wife, Lisa, heavily use plasticulture for growing vegetables on just 1.5 acres of an 8.3-acre property in the city of Edmond. They spread plastic over the soil, then cut small holes in the plastic for the plants. This use of plastic reduces the growth of invasive weeds and insects, plus it conserves natural resources. Hill credits the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry for helping him jumpstart his farm in 2009. Initially, staff provided a wealth of advice. The department continues to help through farm diversification resources and new markets with the Farm to School Program.

Oklahoma school districts participate in the Farm to School program.

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Strawberries
are the official Oklahoma state fruit.
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“Without them, I probably wouldn’t have started, and without them, I probably wouldn’t have kept going,” Hill says. “Now, I’m too far into it to quit.” At just four years in the business, the farm distributes produce to an Oklahoma City caterer, a retail store and the Edmond school system through Farm to School. This ODAFF program encourages a relationship between farmers and schools to put Oklahoma-grown food on students’ lunch trays. Hill also serves about 20 customers through a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, program. Consumers buy shares in the farm and receive a weekly bag of the farm’s bounty in return. Hill says his produce feeds people within a 15-mile radius of the farm, which epitomizes local food. The local food trend is growing in Oklahoma, says Rodd Moesel, president of American Plant Products and former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers Association. “Over the last five to six years, there has been a huge increase of interest in local food and folks wanting to get the chance to meet the farmers,” Moesel says. CSAs, farmers markets and small groceries play integral roles in delivering local food to local people. Farmers otherwise face quantity challenges to market to big box retailers, but even these big retailers are trying to adapt to promote more local produce, Moesel says. Community-based farmers markets have doubled from 26 to 63 in seven years, according to Nathan Kirby, market development coordinator with ODAFF. He also has observed an annual increase in CSAs, though the department has no method to statistically track them. The last Census of Agriculture in 2007 reported 834 vegetable farms in Oklahoma. Moesel believes that number has grown dramatically since then, and includes many small farms. This trend benefits Oklahoma’s economy. “Even though a lot of these farms are small, every activity has a multiplier effect,” he says. “It is

Community-based farmers markets have doubled from 26 to 63 in seven years.

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Steve Hill’s farm is unique in that it’s located in a highly urbanized area of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Lisa, raise more than 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

creating new jobs and new income streams and new business within their local communities.” He finds that specialty crop farmers increasingly use protected agriculture, including hoop houses and greenhouses, to extend their growing seasons to meet consumer demand. “It’s exciting to see so much innovation, experimentation and growers sharing with other growers,” Moesel says. In fact, Hill hopes to create a growing environment suitable for carrots during the entire school year. Through involvement with Farm to School, he learned of the school system’s significant use of this vegetable in its weekly menus. This year he will use ODAFF resources to complete his next goal: heated planting beds that can deliver consistent soil temperatures optimum for growing root crops like carrots. – Joanie Stiers

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food & wine

Eat Fresh, Stay Fit
F
armers market fare from Oklahoma producers provides more than just knowledge about where your food comes from. Eating fresh, local produce is great for your health, as well. Take a look at some of the added nutritional benefits of eating farmto-table foods. Research shows that many essential nutrients found in fresh produce may protect you from cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Fresh produce gives you more energy, helps control weight gain and may even reduce the effects of aging. Phytochemicals are powerful food factors that elicit profound effects on human health maintenance and disease prevention. They’re usually found in plant pigments, so yellow, orange, red, green and purple fruits and vegetables generally contain the most phytochemicals. Beta carotene, which is found in carrots and sweet potatoes, has been shown to protect against lung cancer. Spinach and broccoli are great

Local, fresh Oklahoma produce offers an abundance of health benefits for you and your family
sources of calcium, which is important for bone health. Bright bell peppers, green beans, berries and cauliflower are all a good source of vitamin C, which is known for bolstering the immune system. Blueberries contain antioxidants that are known for having memory-boosting potential, however all berries are antioxidant-rich. This means that they combat free radicals, which are molecules that can cause widespread cell damage.

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food & wine

Bringing Home
the
Blue and Gold Sausage Co. supports youth programs
Photography by Brian McCord

Bacon
In the late 1960s,
agricultural education teacher Don Ramsey started a sausage fundraiser for the Jones, Okla., FFA chapter to help his students add value to their FFA projects. “The students raised their own animals as show products, and they were losing money selling them to stockyards when they were done showing them,” says Brett Ramsey, Don’s son. “So dad started taking them to a local processor to create sausage that they sold door-to-door as a fundraiser. It was great for his group, and the next thing he knew, fellow agriculture teachers in other communities wanted to do the same thing.” By 1972, the demand for Don’s products began to get overwhelming, so he left his 20-year teaching career and started the Blue and Gold Sausage Co. “In one day, he used up his retirement from teaching 20 years to buy equipment, and at that time he had no experience in food manufacturing,” Brett says of his dad, who is now 85. “What started as a fundraiser for one FFA chapter has become a fundraiser for FFA chapters, bands, ball teams, booster clubs and PTAs in every county in Oklahoma, as well as groups in Kansas, Arkansas and Texas.” Now in business for more than four decades, the Blue and Gold

The Blue and Gold Sausage Co. products are sold as fundraisers for groups in every Oklahoma county.

The recognizable packaging for Blue and Gold Sausage pays homage to Don Ramsey’s love for FFA by incorporating the official FFA colors, national blue and corn gold, into its design.

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AGRICULTURE Tablet Edition
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OklahOma's ag industry thrives thanks tO family farms and ranches

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Brett and Greg Ramsey continue their family’s legacy of making and selling quality meat products. They operate Blue and Gold Sausage Co., located in Jones, Okla., with their parents Don and Willadean Ramsey. Don Ramsey, a former agriculture teacher, started the business in the late 1960s as a fundraiser for his FFA chapter.

Sausage Co. continues to market and sell 100 percent of its products through more than 1,100 nonprofit organizations and youth groups. Those products include 2.5-pound rolls of sausage, 3.5-pound packages of thick-sliced bacon and 5-pound bags of breaded chicken tenders. “One third of our total customer groups are still FFA chapters, and they do 70 percent of our annual business,” Brett says. “There are 350 chapters in Oklahoma, and we sell through all of them.” During the 2012-2013 school year, fundraising groups sold 3.25 million pounds of Blue and Gold Sausage, 1.25 million pounds of bacon and 900,000 pounds of breaded chicken tenders. Together, they earned more

than $2.5 million for their projects. Blue and Gold Sausage is still family owned by Don and Willadean Ramsey and sons, Brett and Greg. “Greg takes care of regulatory issues and USDA inspections, and I take care of inventory and public relations,” Brett explains. “Mom does the bookkeeping and will be 73 this year. She hasn’t slowed down since the beginning. And dad is still involved – he tells us all what to do.” Thanks to the company’s steady growth, it has outgrown its 9,000-square-foot storage and production facility. The Ramseys are tripling the facility’s size to 27,000-square-feet in 2013. The company has eight full-time employees and as many as 40 employees in

its highest production months of September, October and November. “The cool part about being a small business is we get to wear a lot of hats,” Brett says. “I might be sitting on a forklift or attending an investment meeting today and sweeping the floors tomorrow. That keeps things fresh.” Supporting Oklahoma’s youth and FFA chapters is another benefit. “It’s wonderful when your customers do something you believe in,” Brett continues. “Dad is still an ag teacher at heart with a business on the side. Oklahoma has a very strong FFA program, and we’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to support them.” – Jessica Mozo
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agricultural education

Cathie Green owns Wild Things Farm in Pocola, Okla. She welcomes visitors to her agritourism farm, where they raise many varieties of fruits and vegetables.

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Ag in Action
Diverse agritourism destinations use fun to connect visitors to agriculture
T he Agritourism program
is aimed at introducing Oklahoma’s 3.8 million residents to agriculture as a premiere educational and entertainment destination. Agritourism, a program within the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is introducing visitors to explorations in agriculture one click at a time on a website (www.oklahomaagritourism.com) that offers a variety of adventures from farm to farm. The Agritourism program promotes more than 500 events and destinations – perfect for a weekend getaway or a weeklong vacation. Agritourism has been best defined as inviting the public onto a working farm or ranch to purchase products, learn, have fun or just relax. So grab your friends for a white-tailed deer hunt, bring the kids to pick strawberries, navigate a horse through a stream on a trail ride or find the perfect pumpkin. “We have 12 different main categories – from country stays and guest ranches to u-pick and specialty crops farms where you can pick your own fresh produce,” says Jamie Cummings, Agritourism program administrator. “We even have a category called teachable moments that provides resources to educators to find destinations that offer a place for school kids to experience hands-on learning in many aspects of agriculture.” In addition to Cummings, the Agritourism program is led by two ODAFF coordinators. Lori Coats oversees the western region of the state, and Becca Lasich oversees the eastern region. Coats and Lasich travel their respective regions visiting venues, offering advice and discussing opportunities with potential vendors. The team also partners with the Oklahoma Agritourism Association, a group of producers who share what they need to be successful and how ODAFF can help. The Agritourism program assists agritourism businesses through consultation on new opportunities and promotion on the web, social media, the Agritourist newsletter and blog. They offer “rolling tours” for producers, giving them a chance to
Photography by Frank Ordonez

Agritourism is all about enjoying experiences with your family and exposing people of all ages to agriculture.

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The Red River Ranch Retreat in Sayre, Okla., offers a relaxing place to enjoy the outdoors. Visitors to the ranch can enjoy horseback riding, fishing and hunting.

visit other agribusiness ventures and learn from experts on subjects ranging from tax regulations to risk management and sharing new business opportunities. Tools for encouraging agritourism visitors include a new website that will launch in summer 2013 with the ability to create custom itineraries – so if you’re traveling from Dallas, Texas, to Vinita, Okla., for example, you’ll be able to find every agritourism farm in between. And they are adding more to the program every day. The program will soon launch a country wedding category, from full-service locations to those that offer a horse and carriage rental for the bride and groom. “We just got a grant to do a wine trail,” Cummings says. “We’re working with wineries throughout the state. We are so excited about the growing the winery industry in the state and are looking for ways to share that with Oklahomans.” Agritourism posts activities through social media, from different events such as a small town festivals to when hunting season opens. You can find Oklahoma Agritourism on Facebook, Twitter and a blog called The Vine.

“Mostly, we highlight whatever is in season,” she says. “In April, it’s farmers markets; in September, it is mazes and pumpkin patches. As far as visitors go, many of those interested in agritourism are far removed from farm life. “We get a lot of folks who have never been on a farm before,” she adds. “Those are the people we want to introduce to how much fun it can be. Agritourism is about getting back to your roots and making memories while enjoying the great outdoors.” One agritourism destination providing that outdoor enjoyment is Red River Ranch Retreat in Sayre, Okla. Eleven years ago, Elizabeth and Ridge Lamar began living the dream to develop a Christian retreat in southwestern Oklahoma. “We started with a cement stock tank and a mobile home,” says Elizabeth Lamar. “I had worked in missions, and my husband was a pastor. We wanted a place for people to come and relax.” They built a four-bedroom log home for a bed-and-breakfast, a cabin with an adjoining suite, added a hiking cabin and turned the mobile

Red River Ranch Retreat

home into a bunk room with a big porch. There are horses for trail rides that navigate travelers through streams, along with fishing and hunting, paintball, a ropes course for team building and new this year – RV hookups. “It’s beautiful country,” says Lamar, “and so peaceful. There are bluffs that you can ride up to and it looks like you’re on top of the mountain. On the very top is a tree – we call it our prayer tree. We stop and have prayer with the riders. People come all year round. It’s definitely prettiest when the wild flowers and trees are in bloom.” And there will be more. “We don’t feel like we’re finished,” she says. “At the moment, we’re building an activity center with a laundry, big kitchen and activity room.” If you’re looking for peaches in Oklahoma, the town of Porter comes to mind for locals. Located 40 minutes southeast of Tulsa, Porter is known as the peach capital of the state. Livesay Orchards is the state’s largest peach orchard, offering peach everything – u-pick peaches from

Livesay Orchards

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June through mid-August, peaches from the farm market through October, peach jam, peach butter and peach salsa. But it’s the orchard’s beautiful blooms that let neighbors know when spring arrives – and that peaches will come soon after. Brothers Kent and Steve Livesay operate the orchard with help from their father, David. Their uncle, Austin Livesay, purchased the orchard in 1966 (with the first peach tree planted back in the 1920s) and has kept it a family operation. Currently, it has more than 140 acres of peach trees. “Great Uncle Austin was a cotton farmer,” says Kent Livesay. “He first saw this property in the 1940s, but he wasn’t able to get it at that time. Twenty years later, he purchased it, and at the time, it had 55 acres of peaches and 45 acres of apples. He died, and my dad took it over. He’s retired now, and we’ve taken it over.” The family doesn’t limit the farm to peaches, however. There are apple trees, soybeans, tomatoes, sweet corn, milo, cattle, an open-air farm market and much more. At Wild Things Farm in Pocola, located on the eastern edge of Oklahoma, the annual season begins with strawberries and continues with blueberries and blackberries that you can pick yourself or simply buy from the stand. They also offer all kinds of fresh vegetables – asparagus, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, herbs, lettuce, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, peas and more. There’s a place for birthday parties and a weeklong kids’ camp, school tours, hayrides and a corn maze. “When we started, we planned to grow wildflowers,” says Cathie Green, who operates the farm with husband Jim and son Ryan. “But we found out it was too humid and not conducive to growing them, so we asked ourselves, what can we do to generate income? With no farming background, we bought 90 acres and started with the strawberries.” The first year, they survived an ice storm that damaged the strawberry crowns, and like any good farmer, hoped for a better year the next year.

Livesay Orchards in Porter, Okla., has more than 140 acres of peach trees.

Wild Things Farm

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Cathie Green says that the petting zoo is a top attraction at Wild Things Farm in Pocola, Okla. Many of the children who visit have never touched a farm animal before.

Since then, they’ve never looked back. When a teacher asked if they grew pumpkins, they started planting. The farm now runs a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA , program, where they grow vegetables for people who buy shares to pick up weekly. “It’s harder than I ever dreamed, but we enjoy every minute of it,” Green says. During a cold snap this spring, the family was up for three straight nights protecting the strawberries from frost. “We like having kids around – teaching them,” she says. “You ask a kid that hasn’t been here where strawberries come from, and he thinks it’s Walmart. We want them to know peanuts grow underground and what a cotton plant looks like.” Green grew up in southern California, pursued a profession as a nurse practitioner and retired to run Wild Things Farm. “It’s a different kind of nurturing,” she says. They’re getting ready to start a hydroponics operation and hope to eventually add an orchard. Green credits Cummings’ efforts

with some of her farm’s success. “Oklahoma Agritourism has been a great program with its maps that show everyone,” she says. “They also develop the materials that we hand out and helped us get the Department of Transportation sign for the farm. Without them, I’m not sure we’d have it yet.” She finished an Easter egg hunt in the spring and eagerly started strawberry season in late April, followed by a kids’ fishing tournament in May. A summer farm camp for kids is held in June, there’s garden production throughout the summer, pumpkins in the fall and then Christmas activities. Brett Addison of Burneyville has added Agritourism to his family’s cow-calf operation. “We were living in Texas, working with my family, when the opportunity came to buy this property in Burneyville,” he says. “When we came here, the first thing we noticed was that the wildlife was unreal – especially the white-tailed deer. They were trophy quality.” The couple decided to offer

Addison Ranch

hunters a place to find their whitetailed deer, pigs, turkeys and ducks. “We love doing this,” Addison says. “And it works well with the cattle operation. I can remember an older fellow saying to me that it amazed him how many people started doing something they didn’t love – and kept doing it all their life. I’m determined to do what I love. This isn’t what I went to college for – I have a degree in electrical engineering – but this is what I love.” They started with a hunter’s cabin and put the word out. People began coming from all over. Addison leads the hunts while wife Lisa cooks and keeps the operation clean, and their son helps with guiding. Once a year, they have a ladiesonly hunt. Often, they have groups of men drive or fly in to hunt turkey, hogs or deer. When a group is successful, Addison works with a nearby processor to ship the game meat home and also has cold storage on the farm. “It’s a family operation,” Addison says. “This is a great fit. We couldn’t do the deer without the cattle and vice versa.” – Charlyn Fargo

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agricultural education

Win a Blue Ribbon
ummer signals the start of county fairs across Oklahoma, and there’s a whole lot more to them than carnival rides, funnel cakes and cotton candy. County fairs are also great places to learn about agriculture in a fun, interesting and hands-on way. “In the United States, county fairs began as a way for local farmers to compare their production methods with everybody else’s,” says Charlotte Richert, Tulsa County OSU Extension director. “They also allowed people to compare and evaluate domestic skills like baking, sewing and canning, and that’s still a rich tradition today.” Because most Americans nowadays are three or four generations removed from the farm, many know little about agriculture. County fairs provide opportunities to see it up close, whether it’s by attending a livestock exhibition to hear about raising an animal, watching the milking of dairy cattle, or visiting open-class agriculture exhibits to hear judges critique vegetable crops, field crops, flowers, herbs and honey. “Sometimes people don’t associate fairs with agriculture if it’s not part of their daily lives,” Richert says. “We try to make that connection for them by showing that things we use every day are related to agriculture, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and the plants all around us.” There are lots of ways you can get involved in your county fair, even if you’re not a farmer.

Participate in your own county fair to learn more about agriculture

S

Consider attending a swine, sheep, cattle or horse show, or show off your best photography or culinary skills by entering a contest. Contests vary by county, but categories often include culinary, home improvement, photography, horticulture/gardening, textiles, food preservation and clothing to name just a few. Richert suggests visiting your local OSU Cooperative Extension office (there is one in each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties) to pick up a county fair book, which has details on contests, entry procedures, rules and regulations specific to your county. Many counties also have that information online. Youth can get involved further by joining a 4-H Club or FFA chapter.

“In Oklahoma, county fairs are qualifying events for our state fairs in Tulsa and Oklahoma City,” Richert says. “With our 4-H exhibits for example, judges award every entry a place, and the firstplace items represent their county at our two state fairs.” No matter how you choose to participate, you’re sure to make lasting memories. “Historically, fairs were social events people looked forward to every year, and that continues today,” Richert says. “I grew up exhibiting at the county fair, and those are my fondest memories. It’s a good old-fashioned, wholesome atmosphere that still has the ability to draw people together.” – Jessica Mozo

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Langston University conducts world-class goat research in north-central Oklahoma
Photography by Brian McCord

A Hidden Gem
For goat farmers and
ranchers throughout Oklahoma and across the world, Langston University is a mecca of sorts. Its E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research has been providing invaluable information to those in the meat, dairy and fiber goat industry since it was founded nearly 30 years ago. Those in the goat industry are familiar with the 320-acre research facility located in north-central Oklahoma. “I think I can say we’re probably

the institute’s farm is divided into four sections suitable for research of dairy, meat and fiberproducing goats.

the top research institute for goat production in the United States, and if we were to look worldwide, we would definitely be in the top six,” says Dr. Terry Gipson, the Institute’s goat extension leader. “We’re a hidden gem stuck here in the Midwest. The reason for that is the personnel we have here. We have excellent research scientists who are very dedicated to advancing the goat industry, be it meat, dairy or fiberproducing goats.” Langton’s Institute for Goat

The goat research program at Langston University operates as a working farm so that researchers can develop good management practices for other goat producers to adopt.

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Research was named for former Congressman E (Kika) de la Garza of Texas, who was instrumental in helping small universities conduct research on goats when he chaired the House Agriculture Committee. The Institute was formed in 1984 and went into full-scale operation with the opening of its first facilities in 1985 and 1986, including the lactation and maternity barns, arena, feed mill and milking rooms. More were added just a couple years later. The Institute’s farm is divided into four sections suitable for conducting different aspects of research. The main farm is 120 acres and home to the Alpine dairy herd, while a 160acre farm just south of Langston’s campus houses most of the Spanish, Boer and Angora goats. To the north of the school is a 30-acre area that includes metabolism crate facilities for nutrition and physiology research, and the 30 acres west of the campus are used mainly for grazing studies. “The farm is tailored toward the inputs that we would also see within the industry,” says Gipson, who has been with the Institute since 1998. “So within the dairy industry, we’re going to have more mechanization and labor requirements for milking the animals. With fiber and meat production, we’re going to look at more extensive systems with more pastures and more grazing.” Goat farmers and ranchers can find plenty of analyses through the various research activities on the

A Working Farm

The Institute’s work involves hands-on work with goats of all ages, as well as scientific studies in the laboratory.

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Langston University researchers test dairy goat milk in the creamery, which is located at the main farm of the Institute for Goat Research.

Institute’s website or in its quarterly newsletter. Gipson says that one such project, which was led by Dr. Arthur Goetsch and involved re-evaluating nutrient requirements for goats, was particularly beneficial. “It helped to give a better understanding of feeding goats from a management and nutritional aspect,” Gipson explains. “That led to a series of scientific publications, which were a basis for the National Research Council’s recommendations for nutrient requirements for goats. “We have been able to take those scientific articles and distill them to an easy format for the producers to use. They can go to our website, select criteria of the particular goats they’re raising, and put together a ration that will meet their production requirements. That is one aspect of the research that has really had an impact and has been embraced by the industry.” The Institute also holds an annual Goat Field Day in April. It’s open to anyone, but it’s particularly suited for goat farmers and ranchers as it features industry leaders from around the world and conducts extensive workshops. – John McBryde

What’s Online
Visit OK-agriculture.com to learn the differences between meat and dairy goats.

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Environment & Conservation

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Oklahoma farmers and ranchers lead the nation in water quality efforts

Streams of Success

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Photography by Jeff Adkins

why Oklahoma has such an impressive national ranking for water quality, but the state’s conservation officials can distill it down to two very specific factors. One is cooperation among the numerous groups that depend on the cleanliness of the 78,500 miles of rivers and streams in Oklahoma, and the other has to do with the strong measuring techniques the state uses to present positive results. “One of the things that we’re proudest about in Oklahoma is that we’ve really been able to showcase how successful the conservation partnership is between local landowners, conservationist districts, the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) and the state conservation agency,” says Shanon Phillips, director of water quality for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. “When those folks are all working together, we can very successfully and, in an economic fashion, solve water quality problems. “It’s not rocket science, and all those groups are willing to solve the problem if you give them the means to do so,” she explains. “That’s what our program is really an example of, that we can do so without a heavy hand of regulation.” Of course, it helps that all concerned can see the fruits of their combined efforts. And that’s where the strength of monitoring plays a central role, according to Gary O’Neill of the NRCS. “The key is having the monitoring, and that’s why Oklahoma has been able to show some of the successes,” says O’Neill, NRCS state conservationist. “That is what’s really important when it comes to water quality work. You can do a lot of great things, but if you can’t measure the change over a long period of time, you can’t show the progress.” The progress has been substantial. Oklahoma has ranked as the nation’s top state for reducing nitrogen and phosphorus to its rivers and streams through the Environmental

There are several reasons

oklahoma ranks first

Oklahoma lakes, rivers and streams are among the cleanest in the country, due in part to the agriculture industry’s strong commitment to water quality efforts.

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Protection Agency’s Non-Point Source Program (Section 319). The goal of the program is to reduce 8.5 million pounds of nitrogen and 2.5 million pounds of phosphorus in waterways each year in the United States, and Oklahoma has led the way in that effort the last two years. The animal waste management plans of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry have also helped to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loads to watersheds by requiring poultry producers to transfer waste. “That’s really a testament of the effectiveness of the conservation practices that our programs put on the ground,” Phillips says of the overall efforts. Furthermore, Oklahoma has a high ranking when it comes to the EPA’s 303(d) list, which is a list of impaired and threatened waters that states must improve under the Clean Water Act. The EPA asks states to clean up at least one body of water each year and publish what it calls “success stories” on the agency’s website. Oklahoma, which is fourth overall in states that are in compliance with this attempt to address the 303(d) list, led the country with 11 success stories in 2012. O’Neill, whose NRCS office works closely with Phillips’ staff, says farmers and ranchers are generally open to efforts to ensure that Oklahoma’s watersheds are clean and healthy. It helps that the approach is heavy on volunteering and light on regulations. “When you have a voluntary program and you’re able to provide some assistance, farmers want to do the right thing for the environment,” he says. “It usually turns out to be a pretty good win-win situation.” – John McBryde

oklahoma ranks

animal waste efforts

in reducing nitrogen and phosphorous to its rivers and streams.

No.1

Oklahoma bodies of water were cleaned up in 2012.

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What’s Online
See Oklahoma’s water-quality success stories from 2012 at OK-agriculture.com.

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