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This is my response to "Oklahoma's role in the recent chicken recall" letter to the editor by Pam Kingfisher published recently by the Tulsa World. This letter is being submitted to the Tulsa World and to other publications.

Concerning the "recall," as the title states, there are several points that were either omitted or misrepresented about Simmons Foods and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Here's the rest of the story:

The USDA published news releases concerning the Simmons recall of the poultry reports: 1) It was a voluntary and self-reported recall by Simmons Foods. 2.) There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions reported. 3.) The product may have (not has been) affected. 4.) The problem was discovered by Simmons and the recall was done within 48 hours. 5.) It is believed the distribution was "business customers" who were contacted when the product was recalled immediately.

The new Simmons processing plant is a huge facility. Is it possible that some of the new equipment broke or didn't function correctly? Obviously. There is not a facility of this size anywhere that has not had startup problems. I am thankful that Simmons was diligent in its personal and rapid reporting to protect the public. I bet if you ask Simmons directly (and for the record -- I have not), it would tell you that this recall hurt them both professionally and financially. But it did it anyway -- voluntarily.

The attack on the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and specifically Secretary Blaine Arthur is concerning. The statement that she has expressed "no concern for public health" is just out of line. I am sure Secretary Arthur's reaction to the recall is based on facts and findings she has received by the appropriate agencies, not her "no concern for public health" as Kingfisher's letter states.

While the letter mixes several issues to mount a case against Simmons Foods and ODAFF, I believe the bigger issue is Kingfisher's opposition to the poultry farms in northeast Oklahoma.

I have looked at the water issues from all sides. I live in Colcord/West Siloam Springs area. I am a former poultry producer, a current beef rancher and a huge advocate for both the water quality and quantity in northeast Oklahoma as well as agriculture. My water sources on our ranch are wells and ponds. Yes, I am concerned. I love boating, tubing (mostly with the grandkids) and fishing. I love Lake Tenkiller.

I am and have always been an environmentalist. I wrote a $100,000 grant to develop a Nature Center near Flint Creek. I coordinated and conducted three camps where we taught about 150 local kiddos the importance of taking care of nature and water. I have worked on several tree planting projects and assisted one city in gaining the status of "Tree City America" -- offering free trees to area residents as well as buying and planting many trees for government properties including parks. I was one of the founding members of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership.

I am and have always been an agriculture advocate. I have worked with a farmer-based group, the USDA, Winrock International, the University of Arkansas and an Oklahoma State University Poultry Specialist in coordinating and offering more than 40 classes and programs to poultry producers (more than 2,000 in attendance according to sign-in sheets). These classes and meetings were held to help farmers understand the ever-changing laws, rules and regulations and also to educate farmers on new research, conservation techniques and water quality and quantity protection plans.

I walk the walk and talk the talk concerning water and agriculture each and every day.

I want to be sure in this world of one in five hungry children, there is affordable protein available. We can't have that if we don't have an adequate number of poultry and beef farms and processing facilities.

Water without food is not the answer. Food without water is not the answer.

We can and we must live and work together for the greater good of all.

Bev Saunders

Colcord, Okla.

Editorial on 11/20/2019

Print Headline: Response to Oklahoma's role in the recent chicken recall

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