Agriculture is the backbone of both the Oklahoma and the U. S. economies, says Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese.

“Agriculture takes natural resources and turns them into wealth,” Reese said during an address at the recent Oklahoma Peanut Expo in Lone Wolf.

He said $2.2 billion “comes off our fields at the end of the year. Livestock in Oklahoma adds another $4 billion. Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are creating $6 billion in wealth we didn’t have last year.”

He said much of that production is exported and “brings revenue into Oklahoma.”

Agricultural exports meant a lot to the state’s economy, he added. “One of nine export dollars coming into Oklahoma comes from agriculture. That is significant. It’s great to be a part of the industry that creates this wealth.”

He said viable agriculture is also crucial to national security. “Domestic energy production and using agriculture for alternative energy are important, but nothing is as important as our food supply.”

Reese said many Oklahomans got a small taste of what it’s like to suffer a food shortage during a February snowstorm. “Supermarkets ran out of many items,” he said. “If people realized that was a possibility more often, agriculture would be better appreciated. We have to educate consumers that we are the people who provide their food.”

He said much of the political unrest across the world would be significantly reduced “without hunger. We don’t have that here and that’s what makes our nation secure. I thank you for what you do.”