The 1960s started off in the trenches of legislative matters. When the State Equalization mandated a 10-percent hike in ad valorem assessments, Oklahoma Farm Bureau mounted a campaign to challenge the evaluation process. Even though they failed to change the outcome, leaders felt proud to have tried.
During the early 1960s, the OKFB newsletter was filled with commentary on the changes in world trade. Several historical conflicts emerged and greatly reduced a number of exports from the U.S. Parity pricing continued to be a major discussion. Some OKFB members were heavily in favor of 100 percent parity pricing, while others were adamantly in favor of a more adjustable pricing.
In 1963, more than 50 bills that affected agriculture were enacted by the legislature, including land titles, predator control, water and water rights, brands, migrant labor, welfare and annexation sales tax. Additionally, conflicts within the agricultural sector added to OKFB’s legislative workload. With OKFB leading the discussion, fertilizer was added to the list of items exempted from state sales tax in 1965.
OKFB leaders became more familiar with the inner workings of the legislative process. Throughout the years, article after article would relay the most recent news, sometimes with excitement from a win and sometimes with resignation from a loss. Nevertheless, a reader could easily see the courage and fortitude each OKFB member possessed to be able to simply press on, even after losing such important battles.
member benefits added
With a rapidly growing organization came added benefits and services to members. In response to resolutions from the previous year, OKFB launched a tire-and-battery service in 1964, offering all types of tires and batteries at considerable savings over regular, retail prices.
In 1966, OKFB hired Jim Williams to organize a safety unit in the information division to promote general farm and household safety as well as highway laws and safe driving tips.
With the beginning of the safety service, OKFB began encouraging members to use Slow Moving Vehicle signs, which were designed at the Agricultural Engineering School at Ohio State University for all vehicles not capable of moving faster than 25 miles per hour. OKFB was the state distributor for one of the major manufacturers of the SMV signs, which were sold through county Farm Bureaus.
In the courtroom
In the 1960s, OKFB entered several court cases in support of farmers and ranchers’ water rights and was involved in passing the state’s first egg grading law. In addition, OKFB supported the will of farmers and ranchers through the formation of check-offs for a variety of commodities, including the wheat, lambs, hogs and pecans.
The 1960s served as part of the growth of the organization, providing the opportunity to learn through failures and capitalize on successes. In the coming years, this valuable experience in legislative matters would be essential for overcoming upcoming challenges.