Agriculture in Oklahoma experienced a historic occasion on June 22 as First Secretary of Agriculture for Ireland Dr. John Dardis came to visit the state. Dardis was invited to Oklahoma by Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb after the two met at the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C. Dardis shared with the Lamb his interest in agriculture and Lamb encouraged Dardis to come experience some of agriculture's best in Oklahoma.
Lamb worked with Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese as well as Secretary of Environment Gary Sherrer, who also serves as the vice-president for external relations for Oklahoma State University, to schedule an agricultural experience for the Irish visitor. Dardis expressed an interest in beef cattle, dairy operations and wheat breeding so the tour was set up accordingly.
As is the custom with Oklahoma hospitality, some of the premier operations opened their barn doors to highlight what makes Oklahoma agriculture the cream of the crop. Dardis had the opportunity to tour Express Ranches in Yukon and was hosted by owner Bob Funk at a lunch in his home. Drew Braum was on hand at Braum's Dairy to provide an in-depth tour of the bakery, processing facilities and dairy where participants were treated to fresh ice cream bars. Dardis then had an opportunity to tour the historic OKC Stockyards with Lamb and Reese before dinner at the famous Cattlemen's restaurant.
The second day of Dardis' visit was filled with cowboys and cowgirls. Oklahoma State University's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources rolled out the orange carpet for Dardis and OSU alum Lamb to show them the best the land-grant institution has to offer. Dardis was greeted by Robert Whitson, Ph.D., DASNR vice president, dean and director, and then heard from several OSU professors. The OSU tour included the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center where products make their way from a novel idea in an entrepreneur's head to a finished product on the grocery store shelf. An MOU was presented between Oklahoma State University and Ireland that will hopefully allow for the exchange of ideas as well as the growth of international economic development opportunities in the future.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry was excited to participate in showcasing Oklahoma agriculture to the First Secretary of Agriculture for Ireland. Agriculture in Oklahoma continues to be a driving force for our economy and any additional economic development opportunities that may be developed on an international basis mean more fuel for our state's engine. Reese looks forward to working with Dardis as well as other agriculture counterparts throughout the world to continue growing Oklahoma agriculture.
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