Blayne Arthur

Photo courtesy ODAFF

Oklahoma’s Secretary of Agriculture for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF), Blayne Arthur was sworn into the position in January 2019. The first woman to hold the office, Arthur has been heavily involved in agricultural policy for over a decade.

A Chickasha native, Arthur spent her early life raising livestock and produce with her family. Upon graduation from Oklahoma State University with a degree in agricultural economics, Arthur began her career in small-business financing before joining ODAFF in 2009. 

Today, Arthur serves as the President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, as well as the President of Food Export-Midwest. She also remains active in a variety of nonprofits and groups outside ODAFF. We sat down with Arthur and got her thoughts on … 

… how ODAFF affects everyday Oklahomans. 

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry exists to help agriculture thrive in the state of Oklahoma, while also ensuring consumer safety through regulatory programs. The team at ODAFF is dedicated to protecting and promoting the highest standard of agricultural goods and natural resources for all Oklahomans. Many Oklahomans may not know that ODAFF employees are a part of their daily lives. From the meat and dairy products that are consumed each day to the scales at the grocery store, labels on a bag of dog food or wild land fire response across all 77 counties, the agency plays a role.

… the department’s divisions. 

ODAFF has 11 different divisions, all of which operate in many ways. State veterinarian Dr. Rod Hall and his team do a great job of monitoring our state for animal disease and assisting producers in livestock productivity. State forester Mark Goeller and his staff assist with wild land fires that impact people in all corners of the state. We have a Consumer Protection Services division, which does many things, including price verification to ensure consumers are not being overcharged at the store. That’s just scraping the surface of what we do at ODAFF, and I know how fortunate I am to have such a terrific staff.

… landing in this career. 

I did not have plans of pursuing a career in government service or ag policy as a young adult. My husband and I both grew up in the agriculture industry and attended Oklahoma State University. My husband is a full-time cattle producer, and I utilized my Agricultural Economics degree from OSU for several years in the lending and finance arena. 

I first had the chance to work in state government as the executive assistant and social media coordinator for Secretary Terry Peach, and then worked for Secretary Jim Reese. I found I tremendously enjoyed ag policy and working with the employees at ODAFF because of the positive impact they have on agriculture. I believe the work that we do at ODAFF each day truly makes a positive impact on Oklahomans.

… her proudest accomplishments. 

There are many great things that the team at ODAFF has accomplished over the last five years. In 2020, we were able to utilize $10 million in grant funds to help grow and expand the animal protein processing sector in the state. Since that time, we have had over 42 new facilities come online in the state and additional inspection of product that can enter commerce. We have had exceptional growth in our Made In Oklahoma companies across the state, helping drive local purchases and rural economies and access international markets. We have implemented a Fire Warning System with the National Weather Service and developed “Stay Safe OK,” an internet-based system to provide real-time wildfire location and evacuation information. We also created the annual Ag Youth Council in 2019, which provides learning and educational opportunities to high school seniors. We have implemented new technology to better serve the public and agriculture producers and create greater government efficiency. All these accomplishments and more are certainly a credit to the quality of staff that works at ODAFF.

… causes she supports. 

I am very passionate about youth leadership development, especially when that is tied to agriculture. I am a huge supporter of both the Oklahoma 4-H and FFA programs and the livestock show programs in the state. I have had the chance to work with and sit on boards for the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation, the Oklahoma FFA Foundation, the Oklahoma Youth Expo, the Oklahoma Beef Council, the Tulsa State Fair Ringmasters, Oklahoma Junior Cattlemen’s Association and the Diamond Hats group. I am a trustee for the Oklahoma National Memorial Board and the Chair of the Conscience Committee. Through work opportunities I serve as the chair of Food Exports-Midwest and president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the OSU Rural Renewal Advisory Committee, and the OSU Veterinary Medicine Authority. Any opportunity I get to support agriculture and youth in agriculture is time well spent.

… new programs and developments. 

We are always looking to find new ways to promote agriculture and strengthen agriculture markets. We are working to build export opportunities in foreign markets for our Oklahoma agriculture products and expand value added processing of agriculture products in the state. 

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