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COM M E NTARY


The Farm Bill—not just for farmers E


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


very five years, Congress passes a new Farm Bill. The current bill ex- pires at the end of this month, on September 30. Time is running out and there are only eight days of session in September in which to get a new bill passed. It’s not just farmers who are anxiously waiting for Congress to take action—your


electric cooperative is as well.


The Farm Bill is broad in scope. Approximately 80 percent of current spending under the Farm Bill is for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Pro- gram, more commonly known as “Food Stamps.” The balance of the spending goes toward farm commodity subsidy programs, crop insurance pro- grams, conservation programs, rural development programs and more. The electric cooperative’s loan program called Rural Utilities Services (RUS) is also a part of the bill and that is why your electric coop- erative cares about Congress passing a new Farm Bill.


The RUS program provides electric cooperatives access to capital. Money appropriated for RUS loans


T


Glenn Propps President,


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


he recent rash of wildfires across Oklahoma has caused many to pause and consider how cru- cial fi re protection is to those of us who live in rural areas. Oftentimes, it’s our friends and neighbors who serve as volunteers, spending countless hours man- ning the front lines and doing battle with ravag-


to electric cooperatives are paid back with interest to the U.S. Treasury. Through interest and principle payments, the RUS program provides a net gain to the U.S. Treasury. The program is estimated to con- tribute approximately $300 million dollars to the U.S. Treasury in 2013. This has been a very success- ful program and it is widely supported by members of Congress. The U.S. Senate has passed their version of a Farm Bill with a reduction in spending of $23 billion dol- lars over 10 years. The U.S. House version of the bill, approved by the House Appropriations Sub Com- mittee, is yet to be heard on the House fl oor. It calls for a reduction in spending of $35 billion dollars over a 10-year period.


Both versions of the Farm Bill contribute to defi -


cit reduction by cutting appropriations to many programs and consolidating many others. The re- luctance to move forward seems to be due to a lack of consensus on the cuts—some want more and some think the cuts are too deep. Before we have a fi nal bill, the U.S. House has one more action to take—a vote on the fl oor. While not everyone is happy with the proposed Farm Bill, from the electric cooperatives’ point of view, Congress should pass it in the precious few days remaining before it expires. It contributes to defi cit reduction and gives electric cooperatives certainty for another fi ve years. OL


Cooperatives and community service go hand-in-hand ✓More than 91 percent make contributions to


ing wildfi res. We are indebted to them for their bravery, and for their service.


Like electric cooperatives, there are many rural service providers that share a common goal: pro- viding a better quality of life to their members. A recent, in-house survey conducted by the Oklaho- ma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) included a question specifi cally targeting commu- nity involvement. The question—and the response —is shown below:


What local community groups or organizations does your Cooperative participate in, have mem- bership in, sponsor or contribute to with money, time and/or resources? ✓Nearly 100 percent of the electric cooperatives in Oklahoma make contributions to county fairs and/or county livestock shows; ✓Ninety-one percent make annual contribu- tions to local chambers of commerce in their area;


4 OKLAHOMA LIVING


rural fi re departments within their service territo- ries; ✓Ninety percent have memberships in or partici- pate in local civic clubs and organizations within their communities; ✓Nearly 85 percent participate in or contribute to economic development agencies in their respec- tive service areas; ✓More than 83 percent contribute to youth or- ganizations such as FFA, 4-H clubs, rodeo clubs and local high school sports teams; ✓And, nearly 60 percent make contributions or donations to local law enforcement agencies. The list does not stop there.


Your electric cooperative is typically involved in supporting local city councils, community centers, libraries, colleges, technology centers and voca- tional schools, plus a host of other organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school music groups and hosting academic bowls. In short, your co-op cares about the communities and organiza- tions within its service area.


Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives are proud supporters of rural fi re departments all across the state. The brave men and women who volunteer for such service are to be commended for their efforts to save lives, homes, barns and businesses. Just as local fi refi ghters take pride in doing their jobs, electric co-op employees are also honored to serve their members and communities with dili- gence and dedication. Co-ops and community ser- vice go hand-in-hand. OL


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


Chris Meyers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . General Manager Glenn Propps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .President Joe Harris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vice-President Jimmy Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secretary-Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Managing Editor editor@ok-living.coop


Larry Skoch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Advertising Manager lskoch@ok-living.coop


Christy Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Offi ce Manager cjohnson@oaec.coop


Kirbi Bailey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accountant/Offi ce Manager Asst. kbailey@oaec.coop Hayley Imel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Multimedia Specialist himel@ok-living.coop Meg McElhaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Intern intern@ok-living.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309 Phone (405) 478-1455 Oklahoma Living online: www.ok-living.coop


Subscriptions


$3.12 per year for rural electric cooperative members. $6.00 per year for non-members.


Cooperative Members:: Report change of ad- dress to your local rural electric cooperative. Non-Cooperative Members: Send address changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968), USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Coopera- tives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Circulation this issue: 314,343 Periodical postage paid at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Arkansas Valley, Caddo, Canadian Valley, Central Rural, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Kiwash, Lake Region, Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s, Red River Valley, Rural, Southeastern, Southwest Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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