by Gus Blackwell, Rep.-61
This week I took a tour with Farm Bureau in Cimarron County. I was accompanied by local farmers and by local and state Farm Bureau representatives. The field representative for Senator Coburn was also in attendance.
The tour began with a presentation at the County Conservation District office. They presented data detailing both the length of the drought and the actual rainfall numbers. Both set of figures were alarming and indicative of the severe problems faced by the agriculture community in Cimarron County, this year.
Obviously the drought condition, which is worse than in the ‘30s, would be much worse if not for conservation practices adopted by local farmers and ranchers. The Conservation District has been working with farmers for years to help implement conservation techniques, as well as to help protect and conserve farm and ranchland in this area.
It also indicates how fragile an economy built solely on agriculture can be. The entire economy of the county is suffering, as a result of the drought. More than half of the area’s cattle have been sold because of lack of adequate grazing area.
This agriculture-driven economy, which saw great yields and record income last year, is at a low point this year. Hopefully, the development of wind power, in the panhandle area, will help diversify the economy. It has the potential to put money into the pockets of farmers and ranchers, even in years of low income.
I will be meeting with representatives from both OG&E and the American Wind Energy Association, in the near future, to continue to discuss the development of this industry in this area.
Another event I attended recently was the installation of a wind turbine at the Yarbrough school district. This is the first school in Oklahoma to be powered by wind. It was great for the panhandle to be an innovator in this area. This tower will produce electricity for the school and offset some or all of their electrical costs.
This venture was made possible without any legislation, but by negotiation with and the cooperation of the Rural Electric Coop’s in the state. Thanks to Tri-County Coop for being such a great neighbor in this endeavor. Congratulations also to School Superintendent, Jim Wiggins, for completion of the project.
I am at the Capitol during part of the week for meetings and interim studies. You can reach me there at 405-557-7384 or contact me at my home in Goodwell or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .