AFR Holds Annual Convention, Elects Leadership

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American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) hosted the organization’s 119th annual state convention at the Embassy Suites & Conference Center – Norman Feb. 23-25. The event features educational speakers and entertainment, the annual business meeting of Oklahoma Farmers Union and American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company, discussion and adoption of AFR legislative policy and officer elections. This year’s convention theme is “Serving Through the Storm.”

“This year’s convention theme speaks to our history as an organization, always doing what we can to help rural people during troubled times,” said AFR Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh.

This year, member delegates voted on one contested seat on the AFR Board of Directors—District 2 Southwest Independent Director. Two additional seats were up for reelection, with candidates running unopposed—District 1 Northwest Agent Director and District 4 Southeast Agent Director. In addition, the AFR Cooperative held a contested election for its vice president. In the race for District 2 Southwest Independent Director, incumbent Brett Morris, Ninnekah, was defeated by challenger Barry Squires, Alfalfa. Squires will begin his first three-year term.

Squires is a long-time AFR member and has practiced law in rural southwest Oklahoma for 30 years. He is currently the senior partner at Buzbee, Upchurch, Squires & Eastwood in Anadarko, where he focuses on real estate, estate planning and solving rural business challenges. Squires and his family grow irrigated corn and cotton and raise livestock through their cow-calf and stocker operations.

Incumbent John Porter, Edmond, ran unopposed for the District 1 Northwest Agent Director seat. Porter is a third-generation AFR Insurance agent with more than 35 years with AFR. He served as AFR Cooperative Vice President from 2010 to 2021, was a member of the Oklahoma National Guard, has been inducted into the Oklahoma Softball Hall of Fame as a player, and is a retired Oklahoma High School basketball and football referee.

Ryan Plemmons, Battiest, ran unopposed for the District 4 Southeast Agent Director seat. Plemmons has been an AFR Insurance agent for 23 years with a combined 28 years’ experience in the industry; he owns Plemmons Insurance Agency in Broken Bow. Plemmons served as AFR Cooperative Vice President from 2021 to 2024, has previously served as president of the AFR Agents Association and has chaired the AFR Policy Committee.

The race for the Cooperative Vice President seat was contested with two candidates vying for the seat—Terrell Coffey, Hinton, and Toby Wallace, Stonewall. Wallace won the seat and will begin a three-year term. As an AFR Insurance agent, Wallace owns Wallace Insurance in Wapanucka. He has also managed several large cattle ranches over the course of the past 25 years and has a cow/calf operation locally. He has served on the National Farmers Union (NFU) Policy Committee and as president of the AFR Agents Association. He is the current president of the Stonewall Public School Board.

In addition to elections, 2024 AFR State Convention attendees learned about rural economic and environmental issues, connected with the next generation of AFR members during the youth program, learned about new membership benefit opportunities available through the AFR Cooperative and much more.

The three-day event featured presenters such as Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond; Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ; Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus; National Farmers Union President Rob Larew; National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies Senior Vice President of Federal and Political Affairs Jimi Grande; National Farmers Union Counsel Dave Velde; OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Vice President and Dean Jayson Lusk; KOSU General Manager Rachel Hubbard; Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives Director of Member Services Stacy Howeth; The Nature Conservancy Partnership and External Affairs Manager Clay Pope; and more.

This year’s convention banquet was one to be remembered. The evening’s keynote speaker— Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.—gave a rousing speech in which he shared Cherokee history and addressed the Cherokee Nation’s priorities in agriculture and natural resource conservation. Following Hoskin’s speech, the AFR Cooperative presented him with a medallion of friendship signifying the organization’s desire to continue building a positive relationship with the Cherokee Nation.

AFR Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR 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 actively 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 principles.