OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Governor-elect Kevin Stitt has nominated a state 4-H leader to become the new state secretary of agriculture, making her the first woman in Oklahoma history to hold the position.
"I'm very, very excited,” Blayne Arthur told News 4.
On Thursday, Stitt nominated Arthur for Oklahoma secretary of agriculture.
“In previous years, I have worked for the department of agriculture. So, familiar with the agency, familiar with the policy and have worked with the 4-H foundation for the past couple of years,” Arthur said.
Prior to her work with the 4-H Foundation, Arthur spent eight years as with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and served as deputy commissioner from 2012-2016. Her family also operates a farm and a business that provides show cattle for those in 4-H and FFA.
However, to fully understand why Arthur is so passionate about not only Oklahoma agriculture but also public service, we have to go back to April 19, 1995.
"My mother was a veterinarian with USDA. So, she was a veterinarian medical officer and worked there in the Murrah building,” she said. “She was one that kind of - well, obviously, she was a wonderful mother but also excited about our passion - I have two sisters - for agriculture and for caring for livestock and the land.”
Arthur said her mom, Dr. Margaret 'Peggy' Clark, set high standards for her daughters and their future career paths, encouraging them to pursue their dreams.
"She was a female veterinarian before there were a whole lot. You know, that dynamic looks a little bit different now,” she said.
Arthur is following in her mom’s foot steps as she will soon become the first female secretary of agriculture in the Sooner state.
"One thing that we really want to do at the agency is look at agency boards and commissions that currently exist and kind of really decide where we can find some efficiencies within those,” she said.
Arthur went on to say she’s hoping to transfer some of the savings to economic development opportunities for farmers and ranchers in rural Oklahoma.
Arthur is also hoping to inspire more young people to pursue a career in agriculture, considering the average age of a farmer today is 58 years old.
"Our producer base is aging,” she said. "We're all still going to need to eat, and so I think there, you know, are some good models in other states of farm transitions plans and things that we can do but I think supporting that enthusiasm of young producers is really, really important.”
Another goal of Arthur’s is to modernize the agency by utilizing technology to help farmers and ranchers do their jobs more efficiently, while also increasing profit margins.
Arthur will succeed Jim Reese, who has held the post since 2011 when he was appointed by outgoing Governor Mary Fallin.