Monday, December 22, 2008
We particularly recognize individuals who have reached a milestone by having served TDA from 5 to 35 years. For a list of the employees honored this year, click here.
Friday, December 19, 2008
In case you missed it, Lancaster Today highlighted my message to the group:
Ag commissioner shares thoughts on Texas community with BSW
By DANIELLE PARKER
Wednesday, December 17
Living in a metropolitan area, agriculture may not be a prime concern to the residents of Southwest Dallas County. But at the Best Southwest Partnership quarterly luncheon, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples communicated the importance of Texas agriculture and community development.
“If you are eating today or wearing clothes, you are involved in agriculture,” Staples said. “In 2007, for the first time ever, agriculture contributed more than $100 billion to Texas economy and 9.5 percent of the state's total gross product. People really don't think about agriculture until there is a problem.”
Contrary to popular belief, Staples said the Texas Department of Agriculture centers upon much more than agriculture.
“We focus on a variety of issues and concerns, working for the advancement and opportunity for all of us in Texas,” Staples said. “We act as the state's weights and measures to protect consumers and businesses.”
One of TDA's primary concentrations is child obesity and education, an area in which Texas has become a leader in recent years, according to Staples.
“Texas ranks sixth in the nation in child obesity,” Staples said. “Our priority is to turn the trend around. We are encouraging food service directors and administrators to helps us implement programs to teach the importance of healthy living.
TDA is partnering with schools and businesses to preserve Texas' quality education, which Staples said is not only vital to students, but the businesses as well.
“We must make certain we invest in our children. We have to communicate the importance of these programs for not only their health and well-being, but also the health for our economy. As a business community, you are the end users of our graduates.”
Education and a sense of community is what Staples said sets Texas apart. Understanding the unique qualities of Texas, TDA has initiated the GO Texan campaign, which promotes the products, cultures and communities of the state.
“We recently discovered that 96 percent of Texans prefer Texas products,” Staples said. “People around the globe are excited about Texas. We, as Texans, have an image that we can capitalize on.”
With the nation's economy in its current shape, Staples highlighted that Texas is better off than most financially.
“Unlike many states, such as Michigan and California, who are calling on the federal government to bail them out, Texans have planned ahead financially with low taxes and a high quality of life. We are a welcome mat for opportunity.”
Staples believes that Texas has all of the traits to become a retirement destination for seniors around the nation.
“Texas is the second most popular state for retirement, but we want to be No. 1,” Staples said Retirees contribute about $2.3 trillion in annual spending. I don't know about you, but I want that money coming into Texas' economy. Retirees are an industry.'
In March 2007, Duncanville became the fourth Go Texan Certified Retirement Community and Staples encouraged Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Lancaster communities to join their neighbor.
“It would be easy to say, ‘Well Duncanville already is a CRC. Do we really need another in this area?' As businesspeople, you are well aware of how a cluster economy can build off of one another. The best way to attract people to your area is to have several cities that have multiple things to offer them. As a community that is working together, you can cast a much bigger net.”
Staples applauded the work the BSW partnership was doing in its collective effort to create a community of which its residents and businessowners can be proud.
“We must maintain a spirit of cooperation that enables us to realize we are competitors, but also understand that if my neighbor does well that benefits me, too.”
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Having previously served as chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, I can assure all Texans our system of response and recovery is fast acting and designed to be receptive to the needs of its citizens.
There is some good news for farmers and ranchers who suffered losses and damages from Hurricane Ike in September. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and our state’s senators and representatives in Congress, $13.7 million in funds are available to Texas farmers and ranchers in 20 designated counties.
Texas farmers and ranchers can apply for the funding to pay for things like debris removal and fence restoration. But there are some limited conditions in order for land to be eligible. Hurricane Ike must have created new conservation problems that, if untreated, would:
- Impair or endanger the land
- Materially affect the land's productive capacity
- Represent unusual damage which, except for wind erosion, is not the type likely to recur frequently in the same area
- Be so costly to repair that federal assistance is or will be required to return the land to productive agricultural use
To see if you are eligible and to apply, visit www.usda.gov for more information on the program. The ECP application period is for 60 days. Sign-up dates for counties impacted by Hurricane Ike are as follows:
Dec. 1, 2008 – Jan. 29, 2009 Jan. 5 – Mar. 5, 2009
Angelina County Brazoria County
Cherokee County Chambers County
Houston County Galveston County
Jasper County Hardin County
Nacogdoches County Harris County
Newton County Jefferson County
Polk County Liberty County
Rusk County Montgomery County
San Jacinto County Orange County
Monday, December 15, 2008
The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, or TERP, offers agricultural producers grants that will fund up to 80 percent of replacing old vehicles or up to 100 percent of replacing an emissions-producing engine. TERP aims to improve air quality in urban and near-urban areas by removing as many sources of pollution as possible.
For more information on deadlines and eligibility, visit www.tdagrants.org, or call 1-800-919-TERP.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Hurricane Ike resulted in what was most likely the largest cattle drive in Texas and North America. Approximately 15,000 head of cattle were displaced by the storm, and it was critical to move fast to make sure the surviving livestock received food, water and nutrients. Without hesitation, a partnership of Texans was formed.
Because of the outstanding efforts of several state and federal agencies, as well as close coordination with industry partners such as the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Independent Cattlemen’s Association and others, Southeast Texas will be able to recover from the devastating impact.
The video is expected to be available in January 2009 and we will post it on the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Web site at www.tda.state.tx.us.
If you or someone you know still needs assistance from Hurricane Ike, visit TDA’s Web site and click on our Hurricane Ike Recovery Resource Fact Sheet.
Bill Ludwig, U.S. Department of Agriculture Southwest Region Administrator for Food Nutrition Services, coordinated the round-table discussion that included representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Texas AgriLife Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, the Agatston Research Foundation and The OrganWise Guys health education program . We shared ideas on how to decrease obesity rates among our younger generations, and I am excited to say there are already some great efforts underway to help combat this terrible epidemic.
As you may already know, Texas ranks sixth in the nation in childhood obesity, and in 2005 Texas businesses spent an estimated $3.3 billion on costs related to obesity. This is a trend we must change.
Although Texas schools are already doing an outstanding job of fighting obesity, the realty is we are losing our children after school, during the weekends and in the summers. Through a collaborative effort we can all help Texas children by encouraging them to adopt the 3Es of Healthy Living: Education, Exercise and Eating right. These components are critical to winning the war on obesity.
The upcoming legislative session will give us many opportunities to make gains in our fight against obesity. To find out more about TDA’s request to the state legislature to implement healthy lifestyles for Texas children, visit www.tda.state.tx.us and look for the link on the right called Legislative Appropriations Request.
TDA appreciates all our partners and their investment in healthy lifestyles, and I hope we can work together to improve Texans’ health and end this obesity crisis.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
As most of you know, the economic crisis has impacted the beef industry along with most agriculture commodities.
But later this week, South Korea's big retailers will resume U.S. beef sales. While this certainly will help the beef industry, it will have positive impacts on other agriculture commodities as well. Read more about the decision in the following news story:
South Korea's big retailers to resume US beef sales
SEOUL - Major South Korean retailers said Tuesday they would resume U.S. beef sales for the first time since mass protests against the imports rocked the country, citing the need for cheap food during hard times.
The Korea Chainstores Association said US beef would be back on shelves from Thursday at the top three discount stores -- Lotte Mart, E-Mart and Homeplus, which is owned by Britain's Tesco.
Click here to read full article
Monday, November 24, 2008
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. recently announced it will give Feeding America food banks an estimated 90 million pounds of food annually – the equivalent of 70 million meals. This means 19 food banks across Texas will receive thousands of pounds of food in 2009.
Additionally, food banks continue to receive $1 million annually through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texans Feeding Texans Grant Program. This same program will also provide much-needed assistance to Texas home-delivered meal providers who will receive $10 million in 2009 to pay for thousands of additional meals for homebound disabled and elderly Texans.
Ending hunger in Texas is something I’m committed to, and there’s no question these partnerships will benefit not only those in need, but ALL Texans. You, too, can help feed hungry Texans. Contribute to your favorite charity today or go on-line and find out how to give to the Texas Food Bank Network or to your local Meals on Wheels or home-delivered meal provider.
“Globalization in America” was the title of the conference presented by the Texas Council on Economic Education (TCEE). The conference gathered educators from across the Lone Star State and offered sessions on international opportunities for teachers, globalization, international markets for Texas products and Texas as the site for international companies.
Texas depends greatly on exports to a global market to keep our economy going. In the agriculture sector alone, Texas ranked fifth in the U.S. with an estimated $4.6 billion in sales to foreign markets in 2007. Overall, Texas exports of merchandise in 2007 totaled $168.2 billion, which was the largest figure among all 50 states.
With the world we live in becoming more interdependent every day, I am grateful to these dedicated teachers and TCEE for teaming up to go global.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Our state's population is expected to reach 45 million by 2060, almost doubling our current population and creating a major demand for water. According to the Texas Water Development Board, conservation efforts are critical to meet almost ¼ of our state’s water needs by 2060. To put it in perspective, that’s enough water to fill the Astrodome more than 800 times per year!
Fortunately, Texas has many partners who are not waiting for conservation efforts to just happen – they are leading the way. I was part of a press conference today at the Lower Colorado River Authority where Wal-Mart announced they are donating $250,000 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to help fund a new watershed restoration initiative called Water for Texas. The program will help provide additional water for Texans.
Whether you’re planning your personal budget or one for business, plan on conserving water as a part of your daily routine. Water conservation should save you money in the long run and help ensure our state continues to have an abundant water supply in the future. To find out more about conserving water, visit http://www.wateriq.org/ or http://www.epa.gov/ and search for “how to conserve water.”
Monday, November 17, 2008
Texas Citrus Mutual (TCM) observed its 50th Anniversary this weekend at the Shary Mansion in Mission, Texas. Shary Mansion is owned by UT-Pan American University and was the perfect setting to celebrate the contributions of TCM and the tremendous advancements in the citrus industry, which contributes $150 million annually to the Texas economy.
Not that Texans like to brag, but nationwide Texas ranks second in grapefruit and third in orange production. You should contact Ray Prewett and our friends at TCM at (956) 584-1772 to find out how to obtain a very attractive coffee table pictorial history book that was published to commemorate this truly special occasion.
While traveling back to Austin from Mission, I stopped to see Stanley and Holly Schilling at the Schilling Ranch near George West. The Schillings represent what is good about Texas agriculture. Their operations cover a broad spectrum of agriculture, including corn and grain production along with experimental crops such as sesame, canola and luceana. Forages, commercial cattle and an embryo transfer business also are on site.
The Schillings understand the need to diversify for profitability and survival as our agriculture industry changes. They’ve even included recreation and nature tourism into the mix. At Schilling Ranch, you will find a well-managed wildlife setting where deer, turkey, quail and javelina roam. Of course, you also can find wild hogs.
If you haven’t experienced the diversity of Texas agriculture lately, the fall hunting season is the perfect time to explore and enjoy.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I was honored to greet our out-of-state and international guests and welcome them to Texas on behalf of our 24 million citizens.
It was easy to say great things about our dynamic cotton industry. Texas cotton producers generate more than a third of the nation’s cotton and provide seven percent of the world’s cotton supply. This enormous contribution results in billions of dollars to the Texas economy and thousands of jobs across the Lone Star State. In fact, our cotton producers grew enough cotton last year to make 1.7 billion pairs of blue jeans. Pretty cool, huh?
Tailgating outside the Stephen F. Austin Building under a beautiful Texas sky, TDA employees enjoyed flavorful sausage wraps and smoky baked beans cooked by our own master pit tenders, Doyle Fuchs, Jeremy Fuchs, Randy Rivera and Robin Roark.
As much as it is my great pleasure to work side-by-side with these talented people as we tend to the business of TDA, it likewise was great fun to serve a down-home employee appreciation luncheon for the TDA team that works tirelessly throughout the year to provide excellent consumer service.
Tailgating and teamwork are two winning Texas traditions, and I am proud to uphold them both.
At the Texas Department of Agriculture, we are using every possible resource to promote the 3Es of Healthy Living – education, exercise and eating right. In our schools, we are working with cafeteria staff to take on the enormous task of providing healthy, nutritious meals to millions of schoolchildren every day. Our team is also working hard to educate our kids about the importance of exercising and making smart eating choices.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of spending an hour with the world famous Dr. Kenneth Cooper when he invited me to tour the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. Dr. Cooper is known as the “Father of Aerobics,” and his work has influenced companies and citizens from across the globe.
Dr. Cooper shared with me invaluable information that I intend to use to wage war on obesity in Texas. I am most grateful to Dr. Cooper and Dr. Charles Sterling for their insight, time and ongoing dedication to Texans, especially our schoolchildren. Through partnerships like these, we can combat illness and obesity while bettering the lives of future generations.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Your voice does count. Elected leaders do listen when you show your preference at the polls. Study up on the issues. Look at the history of the candidates. Find out what they've done and what the long-term consequences of their policies will be.
Regardless of your affiliation, label, political persuasion or background, your vote counts just as much as the most influential person in America, because that is exactly who you are. Don't miss this important opportunity to be heard!
Voting is not only a right, it's a duty. So be sure to vote!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
UTT, with campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine, is doing an excellent job reaching out to students with a positive message of "You Can!" Too many times society, personal influences or circumstances send a "You Can't" message to our children. But because of their generous donations and forward thinking, this group of Texans is proclaiming boldly and clearly to this and future generations, "You Can!"
Now, that is the Texas way!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
When you feel the economic pinch, it's critical to set priorities. We at the Texas Department of Agriculture are constantly exploring ways to save taxpayer dollars. For example, we have developed a plan to reduce our travel expenses by 20 percent. And I’ve instructed staff to look at other means by which to trim our spending.
You might have heard former Federal Reserve Governor Frederic Mishkin say recently that the shock ripping through our nation's economy is actually worse than what was felt during the Great Depression. While that may be true, we are Americans and adversity only makes us stronger. I know we will weather this economic storm, not through government handouts, but by the individual will of self-determination.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I began my testimony by recognizing the great accomplishments and teamwork of government, industry and citizens during the storm. Losing one life is one too many; however, and if it was not for the incredible efforts by Texans, the loss of human life could have been substantially higher. Great work and preparation saved lives.
The state's emergency response system was managed professionally and comprehensively. For the most part, the State Operation Center's response was reliable and quick. Pre-positioning of fuel, food, personnel and resources was critical and from my vantage point the agriculture community came forth with a cohesive response, donating significant amounts of time and resources to help fellow Texans in need.
With all this said, we must prepare for future disasters and learn from our mistakes. TDA, the Texas Animal Health Commission, AgriLife Extension, and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association have convened an initial post review meeting and have scheduled follow-up meetings to address some issues initiated an after-action review process and will improve upon the response based upon our lessons-learned.
The agriculture industry's response needs stronger coordination among agriculture-related agencies. Pre-planned collaboration is lacking for agriculture needs beyond animal health. Key entities need to be assigned responsibilities and trained; plus it is crucial to reduce confusion regarding the process for accessing FEMA assistance. The state needs to consider forming an Animal Incident Management Team to address these issues.
Texans should be proud of the response after this deadly storm hit, but as a state we must continue to work hard so we are even more prepared for future hurricanes and other disasters.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This morning, Texas Department of Agriculture Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Communications, Veronica Obregon, appeared live on KEYE Morning News from the pumpkin patch at Evergreen Farms in Elgin.
During the interview, Veronica talked about how the price of pumpkins is up this year, compared to last year. Ninety percent of Texas pumpkins are grown in the Panhandle. The Panhandle area experienced heavy rains late in the growing season, which led to a lower than usual pumpkin supply.
To learn more about Texas pumpkins, watch the news clip here:
You can also find out more details and factoids about Texas-grown pumpkins in my Think Texas column here.
So get down to your local farms to get the best pick of the patch. Providing Halloween decorations and great tasting desserts are just a few ways agriculture affects all Texans in their daily lives.
Monday, October 20, 2008
While visiting Gonzales ISD, Eden ISD and Bellville ISD last week, I met with students and staff who are making smart nutrition choices. It was an honor to recognize O’Bryant Intermediate School in Bellville as a US Healthier School Challenge Gold Award winner. Their school’s hard work and commitment to healthy school meals paid off, making O’Bryant Intermediate only the third school in Texas to win the gold distinction.
At each school, I encountered wonderful and dedicated cafeteria staff and teachers who take care of our school kids every day. It was great to hear how appreciative they are of the efforts of TDA employees, especially in the Food and Nutrition Division. Together, they have all contributed to the success of the National School Lunch program. TDA is dedicated to making sure our customers, Texas children, are happy and healthy.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It is my pleasure to announce this week’s unveiling of our new electronic version of Texas Agriculture Today.
The Texas Agriculture Today Web site will serve as an online version of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s printed quarterly newsletter. In each issue, you’ll find a variety of news stories on agricultural topics that affect everyday life.
TDA is committed to connecting with as many Texans as possible through a variety of mediums.
To have Texas Agriculture Today sent directly to your inbox, click here to subscribe. We will continue to circulate the regularly published version of the issue for those who still prefer the original hard copy.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The third week of events and activities promises an exciting finish to this year's Pavilion, presented by Borden. Try a sample of Texas beef, taste award-winning Texas wine and learn how the diversity of agriculture touches our everyday lives.
Click here for a detailed schedule of the final week’s events.
Click here for a virtual tour of the TDA Food and Fiber Pavilion.
The clock is ticking to enjoy this Texas family tradition, so don’t miss out!
Monday, October 13, 2008
This week, I am joining students across the state celebrating National School Lunch Week, Oct. 13-17. As part of my ongoing commitment to help curb childhood obesity, I encourage students to enjoy nutritious school meals and adopt the 3 Es of Healthy Living – education, exercise and eating right.
Today, I joined the fourth graders at Gonzales Elementary School for lunch. It was great to see so many students eating healthy and nutritious school lunches.
Acknowledging the benefits of a nutritional diet and exercise early in life will help foster better eating decisions, and in turn, help sustain a lifestyle with a reduced risk of health problems that are most often associated with obesity. Click HERE to watch TDA's latest public service announcement reminding people that good grades start with good nutrition.
Child obesity is a growing epidemic in our state, but it’s not too late to begin implementing changes in our children’s lives to halt this disturbing trend. Encouraging your children to eat lunch at school is a great way to encourage healthy eating, as those meals are prepared with less fat in order to meet federal nutrition requirements.
Click HERE to read facts and figures about the childhood obesity crisis in Texas.
Friday, October 10, 2008
On Monday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Texas Department of Agriculture will host the Texas Forestry Association’s seedling giveaway. Planting trees is an easy way to make family memories and add to your home’s landscape, and this year TDA makes it easier than ever. Just find your way to our Food and Fiber Pavilion, and pick up a containerized Shumard Oak seedling to add to your landscape.
Once the tree is planted, you and your family can look forward to many years of autumn leaves in shades of purple and red. Shumard leaves turn their brightest red in December, making the perfect backdrop for Christmas decorating. The tree will grow along with your family, and can reach as high as 120 feet tall.
For more information, visit www.gotexan.org or visit the Food and Fiber Pavilion’s blog here.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
During the summit we added a pair of cities to the GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Communities (CRC) program. With this week’s addition of Canyon and Tulia, Texas now has 21 CRCs. Launched in June 2006, the Texas Department of Agriculture’s CRC initiative helps Texas communities attract retirees and potential retirees to reside in their respective locales. The CRC Program also encourages tourism.
As Texans, we know it is important to maintain the economic health of our rural communities, so I was honored to present Texas Capital Fund awards to the cities of Crosbyton, Dimmitt, Floydada, Levelland, and Plains. The grants will be used toward revitalizing the historic downtowns, which serve as the heart of every community in the Lone Star State.
It was inspiring to see a room full of Texans at the conference dedicated to preserving and advancing their Panhandle communities. By taking steps to enhance the historical charm and Texas pride in each city, I know tourism and national recognition are bound to follow. Great work, Texas!
See more photos from the event here:
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Agriculture is a vital part of the Texas economy, and we must ensure its future by keeping each generation interested in the industry. These grants will allow urban students to learn of the importance of agriculture in every day life and how the industry has become a high-tech business in need of young professionals.
The program provides up to $2,500 each for the elementary and middle schools’ agricultural demonstration projects in urban school districts. Funding for these grants is sponsored in part by Borden Milk Products and Kitchen Craft International.
The schools receiving the grants are:
* Bryant Elementary School, Arlington Independent School District, Arlington ($1,974)
* Spillane Middle School, Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Houston ($2,500)
* Aue Elementary School, Northside Independent School District, San Antonio ($2,200)
* De Zavala Middle School, Pasadena Independent School District, Pasadena ($2,500)
* Genoa Elementary School, Pasadena Independent School District, Houston ($2,500)
* J.D. Sparks Elementary, Pasadena Independent School District, Pasadena ($2,500)
To learn more about each school’s agricultural project, click HERE. To see how one school in East Austin benefitted from an Urban School Grant last year, click HERE.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I would like to extend my thanks to Farm Credit, who helped make the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up possible.
For a glimpse at the event’s inaugural success, you can view news coverage from around the state at the links below:
Abeline Biz, Abeline
KTBC Fox 7 Austin
KVUE ABC Austin
Now that the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up is over, it’s time to enjoy Texas Wine Month through the rest of October. Expect to see statewide wine promotions, including sales incentives, winery tours, wine festivals, in-store tastings, restaurant pairings and other activities in communities across the Lone Star State. Visit www.gotexanwine.org for more information.
Week two at this year’s TDA Food and Fiber Pavilion at the State Fair in Dallas promises a variety of exhibits, hundreds of quality Texas products, cooking demonstrations and other events.
Click HERE for a full calendar of events at the pavilion. The second week is exciting and promises a look at the wide variety of Texas products, fun demonstrations and educational exhibits. To see highlights for week two (Oct. 7-13) at the pavilion, click here.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Find out which restaurants in your area are participating here.
I started out my day with breakfast in San Antonio at Mi Tierra in Market Square. Mi Tierra is showcasing Texas beef in today's GO TEXAN special: Milanesa de Res.
I don't know how much room I'll have left for lunch and dinner, but I will do my duty as your Commissioner of Agriculture and try my best.
State Senator Jeff Wentworth along with representatives from the San Antonio Food Bank and Texas fruits and vegetables producers joined for me for breakfast.
Now it's time for me to head to lunch in Dallas. Be sure to check back, as I will be updating my blog with photos and more of my GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up tour of Texas.
We stopped in Dallas to have lunch at Fearings at the Ritz Carlton in Dallas. Chef Dean Fearing served up a delicious meal:
Below is a slideshow of photos from yesterday's press conference at the Capital Area Food Bank, and from this morning's delicious meal at Mi Tierra.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The inaugural event celebrates restaurants that serve fresh, local ingredients and quality Texas foods. I’m also proud to announce that many of the day’s proceeds will benefit Texas food banks in support of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texans Feeding Texans initiative. I will enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner tomorrow at GO TEXAN Restaurants and hope other Texans will join me in doing the same.
I announced the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up at a news conference today. You can watch the announcement, plus get a tour of the Capital Area Food Bank here:
For a complete list of participating statewide restaurants, news updates and other information about the event, visit www.GOTEXANRestaurantRoundUp.com.
In addition, the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up serves to kick off Texas Wine Month in October.
Remember – Go Out, Go Eat, GO TEXAN.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The State Fair of Texas is going on until Oct. 19. Click HERE for a full calendar of events at the pavilion.
- You'll love these animal ambassadors! Straight from the Wild Wonders Outreach Program at the Fort Worth Zoo, birds of prey, small mammals, reptiles and other outdoor friends will visit the Pavilion. Visitors will mix, mingle, meet and greet the animals. There's educational fun for all ages. Noon-2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1.
- In the mood for a great meal? Southwest Dairy Farmers and the Texas Beef Council will partner together and entertain fairgoers with exciting beef and dairy cooking demos. Noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Thursday, Oct 2.
- Tap your feet, harmonize and join in as the Cabaret Sweet Adeline Quartet regales the crowd with cabaret tunes. The group consists of Patty, Pam, Donna and Holly - four women from four different states - singing for your enjoyment. Noon-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3.
- Enjoy the culinary show of Molly Fowler, the Dining Diva, as she displays her GO TEXAN cooking skill with live demos. A traveling culinary instructor, television personality and cookbook author, Fowler shares her secrets with ease and flair. Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4; 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.
- Stop by and say hello to fairground favorite Borden's Elsie the Cow, who returns to the Pavilion promoting the goodness of dairy products. Also, rock out with Radio Disney as it broadcasts live from the Pavilion. 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.
- Kids can't get enough of the engaging musical duo The Biscuit Brothers. Their television program The Biscuit Brothers, produced in Austin, won a Lone Star Emmy for best children's programming in 2006. Come sing along to the catchy (and educational) Biscuit music in the Texas Beef Council Exhibit. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.
- Country singer Haley Reynolds, the Dairy Festival Queen of Hopkins County, dazzles visitors on the Southwest Dairy Farmers Gazebo Stage. Noon-2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6.
- Toast a taste of Texas good cheer at the State Fair of Texas Wine Garden, presented by Kroger and sponsored by TDA. This week, representatives from Fall Creek Vineyards in the Hill Country, Llano Estacado Winery on the High Plains, Haak Vineyards on the Gulf Coast and Pleasant Hill Winery in Brenham are just some of the people on hand in the Wine Garden to help teach the story of Texas wineries and wines. Visitors will discover and meet the people who have put the Lone Star State on the worldwide winemaking map.
See you there!
Friday, September 26, 2008
I’ve always known there was something special about the Lone Star State, and at the State of Fair of Texas you are able to truly experience the spirit of those who make our state unique. On Thursday I kicked off the Fair activities at the Fair Foods and Fine Wine event held in the GO TEXAN Food and Fiber Pavilion.
The event celebrated Texas foods and wines and showcased one-of-a-kind creations. From watermelon salsa and raspberry/jalapeno jelly to succulent steak quesadillas and Texas wines, the Food and Fiber Pavilion gives visitors a true taste of Texas. It’s definitely a stop you should plan to make on an empty stomach! And those who want to get a jump-start on holiday gift shopping need to stop by the Texas Monthly Mercantile Store and Pioneer Brand General Store.
GO TEXAN members have displayed hundreds of unique items such as domino necklaces and tasty treats made from original recipes. Best of all are the Texans who have worked so hard to see their dreams become reality. These are men and women from all walks of life, but with one thing in common – they are all GO TEXAN members.
I’m so proud of our GO TEXAN program in that it helps Texans promote their designs and products. The State Fair of Texas runs through October 19. Take your family out there, and stop by the GO TEXAN Food and Fiber Pavilion for a tantalizing taste of our great state.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Today I traveled to Houston where Astros left fielder Carlos Lee, his wife Mary, and I took an aerial tour of the area damaged by Hurricane Ike. The storm’s impact on agriculture is staggering, with direct and indirect losses totaling several hundred million dollars. Many producers are left with croplands that will not be productive for one to possibly two years. Others have lost their entire operations, possibly forever. We need to do what we can to assist these Texans.
Lee raises Brahman cattle on his Texas ranch, and feels a strong connection to other agricultural producers. He says after viewing the massive destruction up close, he understands the hardships his fellow ranchers and the Texas agriculture industry now face.
"It's one thing to see it on the news and a whole different thing to see it live," Lee said. "It was hard. As a rancher I understand it's not easy to be in the cattle business. A lot of cattle are dead. Some people are coming back and seeing that all they worked for is destroyed."
Lee wants to help agricultural producers get back on their feet and he demonstrated his commitment by donating $25,000 to assist Texas farmer and ranchers as they recover.
Last week, I made an official request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance with future agricultural and rural restoration. While I’m hopeful Texans will receive federal assistance, Lee and I both ask you to take action now and help the people who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs – our fellow farmers and ranchers.
I want to remind everyone that a foundation has been created through the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to help fund some of the recovery efforts. To donate, visit agrilifevents.tamu.edu.
The Texas Farm Bureau has posted some pictures of Hurricane Ike’s devastation on its Web site to further demonstrate the need for your help. Click here to see the photos.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Since Monday, when I asked Texans to help their neighbors by donating hay to feed hungry cattle and horses, we have received almost 4000 round bales and about 2000 more are being offered. This is truly incredible, and I thank all of you who have stepped up to the plate.
Texans have also come through on monetary donations. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service foundation has received almost $100,000 in funds. These monies will be used to continue relief efforts and assist producers in reestablishing their operations.
We have also had many ranchers offer their land for grazing. Between Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers and the Texas Department of Agriculture, we have been offered around 5,000 acres of pasture.
Our next step in this recovery process is contracting livestock haulers to help move cattle out of the devastated area. We are working with the Livestock Marketing Association and the state’s cattle associations to complete this task.
Finally, there is some good news out of the Farm Service Agency. Farmers and ranchers in counties affected by Hurricane Ike who were attempting to meet the Sept. 16 deadline for certain disaster assistance programs, but couldn't due to Hurricane-related temporary FSA office closures, now have an extension.
For more information contact FSA toll free by calling 1-866-680-6069 or visit www.fsa.usda.gov.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
AgriLife Extention Service
Call the Chambers County AgriLife Extension Office if you are an agriculture producer in need of food, water or transport for your livestock.
Texas Animal Health Commission
(800) 550-8242, ext. 296
If you have general livestock or animal health questions, contact the Texas Animal Health Commission.
Natural Resources Conservation Service
(979) 846-0757, ext. 3
Call the Natural Resources Conservation Service if you need help disposing of animal carcasses left in the wake of Hurricane Ike.
Texas Attorney General
(800) 252-8011 or www.oag.state.tx.usIf you suspect a business of gasoline, or other, price gouging after the hurricane, you can report them by calling the attorney general or filing a report on the Texas Attorney General's Web site. You can also find useful consumer protection information as you begin to recover and rebuild.
Small Business Administration
(800) U-ASK-SBA or www.sba.gov
Owners of small businesses, including some agriculture operations, affected by Hurricane Ike can apply for financial disaster assistance.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
(800) 621-FEMA or www.fema.gov
People affected by the storm can apply for disaster assistance from FEMA for food and lodging vouchers.
Public Utilities Commission
(888) 782-8477 or www.puc.state.tx.us
Get updated information on the progress of power restoration by contacting the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
MAKE A DONATION
Texas Department of Agriculture
Call the Texas Department of Agriculture if you would like to donate or assist in the transportation of hay, feed, water or other supplies to farmers and ranchers affected by the storm. There is also a need for assistance in transporting livestock from affected areas and pastures where evacuated animals may be re-located.
AgriLife Extension Service
(979) 845-2604 or AgriLife online
Call or log-on to make a monetary contribute to help farmers and ranchers through the "No Fences" Hurricane Ike Horse and Cattle Relief fund. Monetary donations are needed to defray transportation costs associate with the rescue of horses and cattle, as well as the purchase of goods like feed and water troughs.
American Red Cross
You can donate your time and money to those affected by the storm via the Red Cross.
East Texas Food Bank
All food banks are taking food and money donations to help evacuees and other storm victims.