Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Newly Launched TDA Blog

We're proud to announce the launch of our new TDA blog. It will include many new voices from TDA and cover a wide range of topics. 

To take a look at our newly designed site, please click here

Thursday, November 21, 2013

National Rural Health Day

Guest blog from Bryan Daniel, TDA’s Trade and Business Development Chief Administrator.

Today is National Rural Health Day, a time to recognize and honor the dedicated health care
professionals located throughout rural Texas who provide quality care and assistance to Texans who not only live in their communities, but who are visiting or traveling through.

Rural Texas is currently facing a shortage of physicians and health care providers face a unique set of challenges in meeting the needs of the three million residents who call rural Texas home, but in true Texas Spirit, they have dug in their heels continue to meet these challenges head on. Through determination and devotion, these professionals routinely provide residents quality care.

Rural hospitals are often the second or third largest employer in smaller communities and often offer the highest paying jobs in that area. Equipping rural hospitals with modern technology allows health providers access to the most advanced equipment and treatments options. The expansion of broadband service is helping health care professional receive training through online classes, keeping them informed of current industry trends. Additionally, through avenues, like tele-medicine, patients can connect with specialists, who may be several hundred miles away.

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s State Office of Rural Health is dedicated to assisting rural communities and helping them provide affordable, quality care to rural Texans. Today, on National Rural Health Day and every day we are sincerely grateful for the unceasing work the dedicated rural health care professionals who daily care for the health and wellbeing of our fellow Texans.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Salute to our Soldiers, Past & Present

Service. Sacrifice. Courage. Patriotism. Bravery. These are just a few of the words that come to mind this Veterans Day as I think of the American soldiers, both past and present, who preserve the
foundation of safety and freedom for our nation. Today is a day where we, as civilians, can stop to recognize their sacrifices and honor the blessings of liberty they ensure for each of us, our families and our great nation.

Our service men and women are a true definition of bravery. They leave their families to fight wars, enter harm’s way and protect our land. They miss birthdays and holidays, births and funerals, times of joy and times of sorrows. But their valor and their patriotism never waivers.

This Veterans Day, join me in saluting those who are serving our nation today and those who have served our nation in the past. We live in a country where freedom and liberty are our most prized possessions. Through the courage and sacrifice of our mighty military men and women, we stand proud as a nation when we say God Bless America. May our brave soldiers continue to be blessed for their dedication to duty and freedom.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Living to Serve

Chalk up another big win for the state of Texas and the agriculture industry, thanks to the newest members of the Texas FFA. During the 2012-13 school year, the Texas FFA Association added more students than any other state in the nation. With 8,533 new members, total FFA membership in the Lone Star State now stands at 95,015.

Nationally, FFA set a record. Membership in the association stands at 579,678 students in grades seven through 12. More than 22,300 new students joined FFA last year. The number of local FFA chapters throughout the country has grown to 7,570.

You might be asking yourself, What does this mean to me and why is it so important? These FFA chapters are training our future leaders, developing responsible citizens and opening up minds to the world we live in — without abandoning the heritage that brought us to the level of prosperity we enjoy today.

I encourage urban and rural students to check out their local FFA chapter to learn about the many ways they can be a part of today’s agricultural world. From large animal veterinarians and biology researchers to marketing specialists and economic experts, today’s agriculture career opportunities are much broader than they were a generation ago. Texas agriculture will continue to be a large part of our state and nation’s economy, and I’m glad FFA is preparing some of our brightest leaders.

I continue to live by the FFA motto today, just as I did when I first memorized it; Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Remembering Phillip Caler

It is with a heavy heart that I write today. I am terribly saddened by the passing of Phillip Caler, 20, of Booker, Texas.

Phillip was involved in a tragic accident back in 2009, which occurred at a mall in downtown Indianapolis while he and his fellow Booker FFA members were attending the National FFA Convention. 

Since the accident, the FFA community from across this country and especially here in Texas have come together to offer assistance to Phillip and his family. Now we offer our strength, as we grieve his passing.

When the accident happened, the Booker ISD superintendent continuously updated the school’s website with news about Phillip’s condition. A Facebook group also was created to allow well-wishers to share their thoughts.

One post on the Facebook group called Thoughts and Prayers for Phillip Caler says, “FFA is a strong group and when one hurts they all hurt.” This statement rings true of the FFA organization. When we put on those blue and gold jackets, we become a family. 

This week, as Phillip is laid to rest, I send my thoughts and prayers to Phillip’s family and the entire Booker community. May the lord bring you peace, and I hope you will be able to lean on the support from your fellow Texans and the FFA. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering Heroism, Honoring American Strength

On September 11, we’re reminded of the tragedy that occurred in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. on that fateful day in 2001. We lost thousands of Americans, and our nation was put to the test. But, America and her citizens rose from the ashes to be a nation stronger than ever.

Patriot Day marks the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It’s a day
we remember those lost. It is also a day that serves as a reminder that the American spirit is resilient. We are a people who overcome and prevail, regardless of the degree of difficulty or depth of pain.

Our nation is a force to be reckoned with. We must continue to stand true to the principles that make America a great place to live. We must respect and honor the value of our citizenship. We must encourage our private sector to continue building a strong economy by expanding job opportunities. We must encourage innovation to help our nation prosper. Doing so will ensure America remains a global leader, a prosperous nation and the greatest land on Earth.

When our nation is faced with challenges and hard times, we rise to the occasion with strength and valor. I’m proud to call myself a Texan and an American. Today, while we remember with solemn respect the enormous loss of life, we mark the 12th anniversary by expressing enduring pride in the deep and abiding strength that defines us as Americans.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sex Offenders, Gang Members Smuggled Through Rio Grande Valley

“Sex Offenders, Gang Members Being Smuggled Through the Valley,” this recent headline from KRGV-TV in Weslaco really says it all about the current status of our border war. Things are not improving for our fellow Texans down south, and the danger is real. 

In the report, border patrol agents tell KRGV-TV that criminals coming across the border are changing their tactics. They are harder to spot, and the risk they pose is rising. The agents said more than 70 gang members associated with the notorious El Salvadorian gang MS-13 have been caught this year in the Rio Grande Valley and 20 sexual predators have been apprehended in the past month. 

These are statistics that are unacceptable. South Texans and our brave men and women in law enforcement should not have to live with daily threats of violence, or fear getting shot at on their own property or while out doing their jobs. 

KRGV-TV is doing a great job at informing the public about the consequences of living with an insecure border. Unfortunately, the situation for our fellow Texans isn’t getting any better. Please take the time to visit to view KRGV-TV report and hear the real stories from the people living on the frontline.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Texas’ Draw: Low Taxes, High Opportunity

As a Texan, I take great pride in my home state. This is truly God’s country, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It seems people across the nation are catching on that things are bigger and better in Texas.

U.S. Census data reports that Texas is the top state for relocation. A recent Dallas Morning News article notes that Texas’ big draw is highly influenced by jobs and our state’s commitment to keeping taxes low.

That same Dallas Morning News article cited new data from the Tax Foundation that ranks Texas No. 3 among states for bringing in the most income as a result of people moving into the state. Only Florida and Arizona ranked higher than us. A great deal of that income is from people moving away from high tax-and-spend states like California, New York and Illinois.

The main reason Texas, Florida and Arizona topped this list is simple. Texas and Florida are two of only seven states in the U.S. without a state personal income tax, and Arizona has the fifth-lowest state income tax rate in the country. Take California and New York: they are on the complete other end of the spectrum. It’s just plain common sense. When you tax people too much, take note that they are likely to move out of that state.

Work is another reason people are flocking to Texas. According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas businesses have created 293,000 jobs in the last year, which is more than any other state. So not only do families want to make Texas their home, so do businesses.  

To read the full Dallas Morning News article, “Texas gains people – and their income,” click here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day, Texas!

Here in Texas, we have always enjoyed a strong work ethic among our citizens, which is one of the reasons we’ve weathered the economic downturn much better than most around the nation. While other states were raising taxes and losing jobs, we were lowering taxes, reducing state budgets and creating more jobs. As we celebrate Labor Day, let’s salute all the Texans who wake up every day and contribute to our economy. Your initiative, pride and sense of self-worth are what drive our strong economic engine in the Lone Star State.

To stay on top, our state must get ahead of two labor problems. One is the skills preparation of our workforce. Businesses investing in Texas need the confidence that our education system is able to prepare their future workers with the technical skills necessary for their operations. Sometimes this comes through college education and sometimes it is in the form of vocational and technical education programs. Both educational resources are critical to ensure we provide students with the knowledge and skills to enter our workforce and expand the Texas economy.

It also is essential we push Congress to move forward with strategic immigration reform that consists of border security first, complemented by a flexible guest worker program based on market demands. Businesses here in Texas must have a steady flow of workers willing to work. As always, Americans must have the first opportunity at a job, and where Americans are not lining up to fill positions, we must ensure guest workers are available to allow businesses to thrive. But the system we have today, as well as some policies being debated in Washington, encourages the flow and hiring of undocumented workers ahead of Americans and legal immigrant workers. 

If you’re enjoying a day off this Labor Day, I thank you for your daily efforts to better yourself, your family and our great state. If you’re working, thanks for keeping the powerful Texas economy churning. And if you’re working hard to find work today, I offer my encouragement and commend you for being motivated to be part of the solution instead of the problem. Together as hardworking Texans, we will continue to lead our nation on the road to economic prosperity. Happy Labor Day, Texas!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Texas, the True Champion of Small Business

As the nation and other states have struggled with recent economic challenges Texas has bucked trends and continued to be a leader in job growth. In fact, Texas added 293,000 jobs between July 2012-2013 and maintained positive job growth for 39 consecutive months.

Texas has risen above challenges where others have fallen short because the citizens of Texas demand policies that allow business to thrive. Low taxes, fair courts and a predictable regulatory environment continue to attract businesses to Texas and provide an incentive to grow. The heart of our success and economic growth is small business.

Recently, I was honored to receive the Champion of Small Business award from the National Coalition for Capital. This acknowledgement is humbling and truly a tribute to the hard-working men and women of our great state. The innovation, dedication and vigor of the small business communities in our urban and rural areas are an inspiration to me. Supporting programs that boost small business is a safe investment that I know will keep the Texas economy as a model for the rest of the nation.

While the Lone Star State has much to be proud of, we still have work to do to meet the challenges ahead. We must develop solutions to deal with the ongoing drought, insecure border with Mexico and availability of a reliable and skilled workforce to ensure Texas businesses prosper. That being said, I am confident that Texans are up the challenge, and we will continue to do our part to lead the way.