To the Editor,

 

This is a letter to the Honorable Governor Mary Fallin,

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your Secretary of Agriculture. Your leadership and support these past eight years has been exceptional. We have had really good times and really challenging times, and with the help of the great citizens of the state, Oklahoma is better because of your service.

Your personal investment in business recruitment will be one of many defining efforts of your administration. After years of budget shortfalls and reductions, you signed the largest teacher pay raise in Oklahoma’s history and left the state in the best fiscal shape it has been in a decade. Thank you for your service!

In agriculture, we set goals to increase gross Ag receipts, processing of raw Ag commodities, Ag exports, food manufacturing, and to educate our food consumers. We have been successful in each of these goals. In addition to these over-arching state agricultural goals, we have achieved great efficiencies by sharing employees and resources with the Horse Racing Commission and Conservation Commission. We have moved most of our licensing and inspections online and digitized many operations. We have reduced our employees by 23 percent and our budget by 26 percent, while still achieving our goals and improving services.

We have experienced numerous emergency responses, and have learned from each and improved our capabilities with each event. Partnering with the National Weather Service Forecast Offices, we have been incredibly successful at pre-positioning both air and ground resources before an event occurs. Training for animal disease response, fire, tornado, flood and drought makes us more prepared for future events.

Our Made in Oklahoma Coalition has grown 41 percent, and its company sales have grown to $4.3 billion, a 60 percent increase. We created Made in Oklahoma Store that helped Oklahoma’s small companies sell $100,000 of their products. We have initiated the Significant Women in Agriculture series, which has recognized women in all 77 counties who have made a unique and significant impact in our state. Farmers markets have increased as well as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) use at farmers markets.

We have removed 64 streams from EPA’s list of Impaired Water Sources. We have had more EPA success stories than any other state in removing these streams. Water quality in the Illinois River has improved during your tenure, and groundwork has been set for it to continue to improve. We have increased soil and water conservation practices that include composting, filter strips, pipelines, ponds and wells that improve our farms and ranch lands.

Commissioners of the Land Office provided 40 percent more revenue to Oklahoma schools than any previous eight-year period. We also invested in water and soil conservation practices, which have made the properties more valuable.

The Oklahoma Quarter Horse average purse per race day is the highest in America, while Thoroughbred racing’s handle has increased 27 percent since 2013. There has also been an expansion with horse show events that were already exceptional.

Oklahoma has increased youth development events with FFA, 4-H and youth rodeos.

These are just a few of many other successes during your administration.

On Dec. 31, 2018, I am resigning from state services and my position as Secretary of Agriculture, Commissioner of Agriculture, and President of the State Board of Agriculture. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of this great state.

Sincerely,

Jim Reese

Secretary of Agriculture