Local farmers help shape policy at national ag meeting

Special to the Bulletin

Farmers and ranchers from Brown County and across the state traveled to Austin recently to shape national agricultural policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF) 101st annual meeting.

The Texas delegation helped chart the course for the national organization through the policy session.

Language submitted by Texas farmers helped craft a national policy position that establishes guidelines for preventing further spread of cattle fever ticks.

Cattle fever ticks, and the disease they carry, can have a devastating impact on the cattle business in Texas and across the nation.

Delegates also passed policy addressing lab-produced and synthetic foods. They supported mandatory, thorough and routine in-depth scientific studies, testing and monitoring of foods created through synthetic food production to ensure they are safe.

New policies were adopted on feral hog control. Delegates voted to support federal and state eradication efforts due to the risk feral hogs present to humans, livestock, crops and property.

"These are just a few of the agricultural policies that were discussed during the meeting," Jule Richmond, Brown County Farm Bureau president, said.

The policies adopted by the delegates guide AFBF's work in 2020 on agricultural issues impacting farmers, ranchers, rural communities and consumers.

President Donald Trump also addressed farmers and ranchers in attendance.

"My administration is fighting for the American farmer, and it's been fighting for the farmer and rancher every single day," Trump said. "And together we've achieved something truly stunning, and really it was a historic number of victories-not one. We had numerous victories."

Among those victories, Trump touted the "phase one" agreement with China and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that received final congressional approval.

In the hour-long speech, Trump discussed the economic wellbeing of U.S. agriculture, rural broadband access and the estate tax. He also championed the efforts and outlook of farmers and ranchers.

"There are no better stewards of our precious natural resources than the American farmers who depend on the land and the environment for their very livelihood," he said. "With your faith, your grit, your tenacity, your talent and your patriotism-the best days for America and the best days for America's farmers and ranchers are yet to come."

Brown County farmers who attended the 101st AFBF annual meeting included Richmond, Donald Krause, Monte Sanchez and John Connaway.

"It's important for farmers and ranchers to actively participate in shaping agricultural policy in our country," Richmond said. "We heard President Trump support agriculture and acknowledge the excessive regulations we've faced. Traveling to AFBF's annual meeting gave us a better insight into the larger political process and allowed us to hear from our country's leadership."

Young farmer, rancher conference set for April 3-5

The future of Texas agriculture starts with the next generation, and a statewide conference will provide marketing insights, legislative updates and more for farmers and ranchers ages 18-35.

Texas Farm Bureau's (TFB) Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Conference is designed to equip young leaders in agriculture with the tools needed to increase their agricultural advocacy efforts and help with farm and ranch decisions.

The event is set for April 3-5 in Austin at the Austin Marriott North hotel.

"The conference will feature a variety of speakers addressing current issues impacting the next generation of Texas farmers and ranchers," Jule Richmond, Brown County Farm Bureau president, said.

Conference attendees will hear from keynote and motivational speakers and participate in breakout sessions on commodity issues.

"Young farmers and ranchers will take back information they can use on their farms and ranches," Richmond said "But they'll also build relationships and, hopefully, be inspired to continue to advocate for agriculture."

The conference will also feature the Collegiate Discussion Meet, which is a roundtable discussion of agricultural topics.

To participate in the Collegiate Discussion Meet, contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 35, must have an interest in agriculture and be pursuing an undergraduate degree in agriculture or an agriculture-related field.

The winner will take home a $2,000 cash award and will receive expense-paid trips to the TFB Annual Meeting in December and the American Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet in February 2021. The runner-up will receive a $500 cash prize and an expense-paid trip to the TFB Annual Meeting. The remaining finalists will each receive $500.

The conference registration will be waived for students participating In the Collegiate Discussion Meet. For more information, registration costs and to apply, visit www.texasfarmbureau.org/YFR. Email youngfarmers@txfb.org with questions.

Bring agriculture to life in the classroom with TFB

Many students today struggle with understanding where food comes from,but a lesson from Texas Farm Bureau's (TFB) school visit program can help change that.

"Many kids today are three or more generations removed from a farm background," Jule Richmond, Brown County Farm Bureau president, said. "Our school visit program can help them understand more about agriculture and the important role local farmers play in growing our food."

Through the school visit program, trained presenters provide a fun, interactive lesson that gives students in second through eighth grade an overview of Texas agriculture. The program curriculum for each grade is aligned with Texas teaching standards, which helps teachers incorporate the concepts into their classrooms.

There are four lesson plans available.

The "Planting the Seed" lesson plan connects classroom concepts to agriculture through a science-based curriculum.

The lesson is geared toward students in second through fifth grade. Urban and rural students become farmers as they plant a seed in a cup. Throughout the remainder of the year, the students water their seeds and care for the plants, giving them a better understanding of the care and attention farmers give their crops.

"Who Grew My Soup" is a reading and writing curriculum for second through fifth grade. It highlights who grows the different vegetables that go into their favorite soups.

A social studies lesson, "Mapping Out Texas Agriculture: Regions, Economics and History," shows students in second through seventh grade the diversity of the agricultural areas in the Lone Star State.

A careers lesson, "Investigating Agriculture Careers: Not Just Sows, Cows and Plows," is available for eighth graders. The lesson highlights the many possible career paths within agriculture.

The students are also able to "meet" a farmer through short videos, which show farmers who grow corn, cotton, wheat, strawberries, sesame and more.

The program, now in its sixth year, reached more than 51,100 students in 2019.

"We plant the seeds of agricultural literacy in one visit," Richmond said. "And Farm Bureau has plenty of resources and lesson plans online for teachers to continue the process. It's a win-win for the teacher, the students and agriculture."

Schools can sign up for a visit at https://txfb.us/schoolvisitrequestform. More information on TFB's agricultural education programs, including lesson plans and information on upcoming educator workshops, is available at www.texasfarmbureau.org/aitc.