Family Farmers & Ranchers Form Advisory Council to Back Edmondson
Concerned with the issues of agricultural profitability, funding and fear of consolidation of rural public schools and the erosion of Oklahoma’s rural health care structure, a group of family farmers, ranchers, and ag professionals has formed a coalition to advise and support Drew Edmondson for governor.
The Rural Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Council, which is being led by Jerry McPeak, consists of more than a dozen family farmers and ranchers from across the state.
“There are two candidates in this race with drastically different ideas on how to fund education, health care, veterans services and infrastructure,” McPeak said. “Drew Edmondson has a history of standing up for family farmers in the face of giant corporations. He’ll make sure corporations pay their fair share, and he will not increase taxes on Oklahoma families. That’s important, particularly in rural areas, where our schools and our hospitals are really struggling. Drew’s wife, Linda, grew up on a wheat farm and cattle operation in Ellis County, and Drew is from Muskogee. He will fight for rural Oklahoma. We’re with Drew.”
Edmondson opposes increasing property taxes and income taxes. Stitt will fund education “locally” which is political speak for raising your property taxes. On the other hand, Edmondson will improve funding to public education, health care, and other core services by restoring the gross production tax (GPT) to its previous rate of 7 percent.
“Oklahoma families are already paying their fair share,” Edmondson said. “It’s time for big corporations to do the same. If we restore the GPT to 7 percent, we can provide better teacher pay and smaller class sizes, and we can put more money into our classrooms. It’s just common sense.”
Edmondson has pledged, as governor, to accept Oklahoma’s share of the federal Medicaid funding to help keep rural hospitals open. He has also proposed creating a Family Farmers Bill of Rights that highlights issues important to rural Oklahomans. That includes a Fair Repair Act requiring manufacturers to release repair information and sell parts necessary so farmers can repair their own equipment.
Individual members of the council have been advising Edmondson informally for months. The Rural Oklahoma Farmers Council will now formally advise Edmondson on issues pertaining to agriculture for the remainder of the campaign. Edmondson said he hopes the coalition will remain active if he is elected, providing regular feedback on issues pertaining to farming and rural Oklahoma.
“Our way of life in rural Oklahoma is worth preserving,” said Joe Ogle, a rancher and member of the council. “Mary Fallin endorsed Stitt. We can’t take four more years of Mary Fallin policies. That’s what got us into this mess. And with Stitt, that’s just what we will get! His only plan to fund local schools is to raise property taxes. That is a sure plan to cause ag folks to pay more AND consolidate your local school. That isn’t an accident. That’s been the Fallin goal and is now the Stitt goal.”
“Whether you agree with him or disagree with him, Drew Edmondson has always been open and honest about his positions,” said council member Steve Kouplen, a rancher from Beggs. “He has a record of standing up to big business in favor of everyday Oklahomans. He is a leader who will listen, and he represents real change from the failed policies of the Fallin administration. That’s what we need – now more than ever.”
Members of the Rural Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Council are:
Jerry McPeak, Chairman
Jerry & Veda McPeak, Warner
Steve Kouplen, Beggs
Byron & Gertrude Bohanon, Tuskahoma
Emily Sewell, Woodward
Jerry Shoemake, Morris
Bud Smithson, Sallisaw
Joe & Judy Ogle, Kinta
Terry Peach, Mooreland
Kenneth & Kris-Ann Moyer, Fargo
Brent Pearce, Porum
Bruce Ragsdale, Ft. Gibson
Monte Womack, Okemah
John & Jo Ann Ogden, Wainwright
Jim Shelton, Vinita