Friday, June 27, 2008

Photos from Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C.

Last week, the Smithsonian Institute kicked off its annual Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. and gave visitors from around the world an opportunity to experience the State of Texas up close and personal.

Walking among our nation's monuments reminded me of our beginnings as a nation. America is a promise that must be fulfilled by each generation. The idea of America is not our land, waterways or magnificent resources-- America is a promise to every boy, girl, man and woman. I am proud that Texas also exemplifies that promise of freedom, hope and self-determination.

The delicious foods and wines of Texas will be featured at the Folklife Festival at the National Mall in Washington D.C. until the end of this week. People from all over the world will be able to experience demonstrations, see musical performances, and hear famous Texans talk about the Lone Star State’s proud history, rich traditions and heritage.

The Texas Department of Agriculture is proud to be part of the 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Enjoy some photos from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Strikes Down D.C. Gun Ban

I salute the Supreme Court for making a decision that holds true to the values we hold as Texans. In a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled a ban on handguns in our nations’ capitol violated the Second Amendment.

Without personal security, and without the ability and means to protect oneself and family, fundamental liberties such as free speech, freedom of worship and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure ring hollow. In a time when political correctness sometimes overshadows logic, I commend the justices who voted to adhere to our Republic’s founding principles.

This sets a precedent for the rest of the country to follow and affirms the values we hold dear in the Lone Star State. The Supreme Court's decision has succeeded in upholding our forefather’s values and in protecting our rights as Americans – something Texans feel passionate about.

In an article by the Associated Press Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Scalia said.

Justice Scalia also notes that the handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cool New Web site

I am pleased to announce the Texas Department of Agriculture’s “Retire In Texas” Web site. It has a new look and feel for active retirees researching their retirement destination. You can visit the site at

Making Texas the number one retirement destination in the country requires utilizing the Internet in a way that is appealing to retirees. Our site offers retirees in-depth information on our GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Communities.

The GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community (CRC) initiative is a marketing tool for rural Texas communities to encourage retirees and potential retirees to make their homes in areas of the state meeting the criteria for certification by the Texas Department of Agriculture. GO TEXAN CRC also encourages Texas tourism while promoting the state as a desirable destination for retirees and potential retirees both in and outside Texas.

The program has recently certified its 13th community and is expecting to certify at least five more by the end of August 2008. Each certified community is profiled on the “Retire in Texas” Web site along with information regarding Texas heritage and history, state tax structure, military information, and available resources. The site also provides an opportunity to register with TDA for updates regarding the program and more in-depth community information.

To find out how your community can become a GO TEXAN CRC member call 1-800-TELL-TDA

Monday, June 23, 2008

Off to Washingon D.C. for Smithsonian Folklife Festival

I am excited to head to Washington DC this week to help kick-off the 42nd annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The festival will celebrate some of the best of Texas by featuring Texas winemakers and grape growers who will share their stories about the culture, spirit and personality behind the Texas wine industry. The festival is a cultural heritage exposition that takes place every summer on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

On Tuesday, my wife, Janet, and I will join Governor Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry for the Celebration of the Lone Star State dinner. I will be sure to post pictures on this blog over the next two days.

“Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine” will be held on June 25-29 and July 2-6 in the shadow of the Washington Monument and historic Smithsonian Museums. It will feature the Texas Winemaking Tent, sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture. In the tent, winemakers and growers from across the state will “talk terroir” and discuss “making wine for Texas tastes,” as well as demonstrate winemaking techniques.

Texas wineries selected by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to participating include: Alamosa Wine Cellars (Bend), Fall Creek Vineyards (Tow), Grape Creek Vineyards (Fredericksburg), Haak Winery (Santa Fe), Kiepersol Estates (Tyler), Lightcatcher Winery (Fort Worth), McPherson Cellars (Lubbock) and Texas Hills Vineyards (Johnson City). Texas master sommelier Guy Stout of Houston joins the wineries, providing his take on Texas’ most promising varietals.

With a state as big as Texas, each region has its own soil and climate, which allows Texas to produce a remarkably diverse assortment of wine. Today, Texas is the fifth-largest wine producer in the United States, with more than 160 licensed wineries in operation and 210 family-owned vineyards covering more than 3,200 acres of land.

If you want to find out more more on the event, see the details below or visit the festival’s Web site.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


As Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, I have found it's very important to stay on top of key issues that face Texans today. I set up this blog to help you stay informed about agricultural happenings that may affect you.

From the food that you eat and the clothes that you wear, agriculture affects your daily life whether you are aware of it or not. Did you know that Texas ranks first in cotton production in the U.S. and has a statewide economic impact of $5.2 billion?

I hope you continue to check out this blog and see how the Texas Department of Agriculture is committed to keeping Texas children healthy as well as keeping the state's economy thriving.