OKLAHOMA CITY — The new Oklahoma Certified Beef Association (OCBA) launched with a bang at Vast Restaurant in Oklahoma City Feb. 4. The event featured the first ever Oklahoma Certified steaks served in a restaurant. Gov. Kevin Stitt was served first, marking his steak Oklahoma Certified Steak No. 1.
“We’re here to kick off the Oklahoma Certified Beef Association and the contributions it’s going to make to promoting our wonderful beef industry, unifying our producers and letting the world know that the best farmers and ranchers live right here in Oklahoma,” said Stitt. “Most folks don’t know or appreciate the amount of sacrifice or hard work it takes to get food from the ground to the grocery stores. To me, farmers and ranchers are the hardest working, most under-appreciated industry in the entire country.
“Getting [to a Top 10 state for business] requires expanding our ag industry and capitalizing on every opportunity that comes our way… I’m optimistic about the boost this is going to bring to Oklahoma, to our beef industry, to our agriculture industry, and really to our state’s economy.”
Through OCBA, the state’s cattle producers can verify their beef products as “Oklahoma certified.” To earn the distinction, beef cattle must be bred, born, raised and processed within Oklahoma state borders. With distinctive OCBA labeling, consumers can shop for products that are made for Oklahomans, by Oklahomans.
“Through OCBA, cattle producers have gained another tool that will help them connect directly with consumers looking to purchase locally raised beef,” said American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “Consumers increasingly want to know where their food is raised and how it is raised. With the OCBA label, they can be sure they’re buying an Oklahoma product.”
Through OCBA labeling, individual beef producers can create and augment new marketing opportunities that can help their brands grow and expand. Turning a profit has become increasingly difficult for farms and ranches statewide, and new market opportunities are increasingly important.
“One thing about being in business, and keeping going in business, you have to be innovative,” said Dawn Buechner Burden. Burden, who partners with her father Bruce Buechner at No Name Ranch near Wynnewood, provided the Oklahoma Certified steaks for the OCBA launch event.
The creation of OCBA is timely, following pandemic-related meat shortages in grocery stores and the subsequent increase in local and direct-to-consumer beef products.
“With the US meat industry favoring the biggest players, it is vital that ranchers be able to take their products directly to consumers,” said Blubaugh. “Through direct marketing, cattle producers will ensure a higher profit margin for their farms and ranches. It will keep more of the retail food dollar in local communities, rural communities, keeping those dollars at home here in Oklahoma. It will support local meat processing facilities and lead to more employment opportunities for rural Oklahoma. And, it will give Oklahoma consumers more choice, whether at the supermarket or in restaurants, or directly from ranchers. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved and a great thing for Oklahoma.”
The OCBA kick-off event was a night of celebration for the OCBA Board of Directors, new OCBA member cattle producers and the American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative, the parent agriculture organization that houses and staffs OCBA. To become a member of OCBA, ranchers must first become members of AFR/OFU Cooperative. AFR/OFU membership dues are inexpensive by design to help OCBA members gain additional market traction without adding expense to their bottom line.
“As the AFR/OFU Cooperative, we are excited to offer the OCBA as another way for our members and Oklahoma ranchers throughout the state to market high-quality Oklahoma beef,” said Blubaugh.
The OCBA launch celebration included pre-dinner remarks of support from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a statement from OCBA Rancher Dawn Buechner Burden and an overview of the program by AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. In attendance were Oklahoma Sec. of Agriculture Blayne Arthur and Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Dell Kerbs. Rep. Ty Burns was also present for the event. Burns authored the 2020 Oklahoma Certified Beef Act, which made organizations like OCBA possible.
For more information on the Oklahoma Certified Beef Association, contact AFR/OFU Cooperative’s OCBA Coordinator Ellen Roth at 405-218-5597 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available at www.afrcoop.org/ocba.
AFR/OFU Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR/OFU provides educational, legislative and cooperative programs across the state and serves as a watchdog for Oklahoma’s family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. The organization is supportive of the state’s agricultural industry and rural population with membership consisting of farmers actively involved in production agriculture and non-farmers adding their voice in support of AFR/OFU principles.
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