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Food & Drink

Gov. Stitt Eats First Oklahoma Certified Beef Steak At Kickoff Event

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Seth Bodine / KOSU
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A chef presents the first steak produced by the Oklahoma Certified Beef Association on Feb. 4 on the 49th floor of the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City.

On the 49th floor of the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City, a chef walked a cutting board with a large steak to a table where Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt was sitting. But this wasn’t just a regular steak — it was the first Oklahoma Certified Beef steak.

The Oklahoma Certified Beef Association kicked off the program to promote local ranchers in the state by serving the governor the steak. The nonprofit organization was created following the passage of HB 3963 into law during the 2020 legislative session.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ty Burns (R—Pawnee) and Sen. Casey Murdock (R—Felt).

“I'm optimistic about the boost this is going to bring to Oklahoma to our beef industry, to our agriculture industry and really to our state's economy,“ Stitt said.

Scott Blubaugh, the president of the Oklahoma Farmers Union, said the association will be a way to keep money in local Oklahoma communities. The association is part of a larger effort to boost local meat infrastructure after meat supply chain disruptions earlier in the pandemic.

Blubaugh said the association will soon announce which restaurants and grocery stores will sell the beef. Right now, about 19 ranchers across Oklahoma have signed up for the association, he said.

Ranchers like Dawn Buechner Burden of No Name Ranch in Wynnewood, who produced the first certified steak, said this could be a good way to promote their business.

“We basically spent most of our time in this business promoting ourselves as beef that is bred born, raised and processed in Oklahoma,” Burden said. “But now we'll have a bit more verification to be able to do that.”

Blubaugh said there’s still more the state government can do to promote local beef. While the governor assigned $10 million to boost small processors, the state is facing an emerging meat inspector shortage.

Oklahoma secretary of agriculture Blayne Arthur said she’s had conversations with lawmakers about the need for more inspectors. She said the federal government helps match some of the funding for state inspectors.

“So you kind of get an extra bang for your buck when the state invests in those inspectors through the appropriations process,” Arthur said. “So we'll continue to work with them as we work through session, but we're very hopeful that will get funded.”

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