Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Are Thankful

As we sit down at the table with family and friends this holiday season, let us remember to extend our gratitude to the farmers and ranchers who sustain our lives. It is these producers who rise every day to wrestle a host of challenges so that we may find our grocery stores fully stocked.

These dedicated men and women who make it their life’s work to feed and clothe our nation generate an economic impact of more than $100 billion each year for the Lone Star State’s economy. Agriculture also supports one in seven Texas jobs and has earned Texas the distinction of being the nation’s leader in cattle, cotton, hay, sheep, wool, goat, mohair and horse production.

Here in Texas, we are additionally thankful for a milder climate than we had last year. The historic 2011 drought and wildfires will not soon be forgotten, but it also could not leave us broken beyond repair. As the heavens granted us a little more rain and cooler temperatures, our farmers and ranchers have risen to rebuild. Their bounty is yet another of our many shared blessings.

As you wander the aisles of your neighborhood grocery store this holiday season, stop and think for a moment how the fresh produce, quality meats, dairy products and canned goods made their way to the shelves. And as you sit down for a holiday meal this Thanksgiving, remember to tip your hat to Texas farmers and ranchers who bring you the food that feeds your family and enriches your lives.

We know challenges and adversity may be potholes in the road ahead, but this Thanksgiving we are grateful for our ranchers, farmers, friends, families and God’s good grace.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Clemon Montgomery, a Friend of Texas Agriculture

Clemon Montgomery, a dear friend of Texas agriculture and the Lone Star State, passed away yesterday leaving behind a legacy of service that immeasurably improved our great state.

Clemon was an inspiration to me, personally, and made an impact on my life and career. His dedication and commitment to Texas is a model for my generation and for generations to come. A graduate of Sam Houston State University who also attended graduate school at Texas Tech University, Clemon served 10 years as Chief Deputy to the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. He also served on numerous boards and was a true champion of Future Farmers of America where his knowledge, care and enthusiasm helped shape the lives of countless young agriculturists.

Clemon’s numerous recognitions and professional accolades include the first-ever FFA Hall of Fame Award and the award of Outstanding Achievements in Agriculture, presented by the Texas Senate and House of Representatives.

People like Clemon are individually unique in their contagious passion. For Clemon, a job was not work, but rather a labor of love from which we all stand to benefit for generations to come. My prayers, thoughts and thanks go out to Clemon’s wife, Carolyn, and their sons. Your loved one left Texas a much better state.

To read more about Clemon’s many accomplishments, go here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Californians Are Welcome To Eat Meat In Texas

Reason No. 1,001 to move from California to Texas: We will cook you up a great steak on Mondays as well as the other six days of the week.

Not surprisingly, politicians in Los Angeles have done it again. The L.A. City Council has declared every Monday to be a so-called “Meatless Monday,” in which residents are encouraged to voluntarily abstain from eating meat.

Let’s revisit the facts. Research shows the healthiest diets include moderate portions of nutrient-rich meat and poultry. Contrary to “Meatless Monday” campaign claims, beef is both environmentally and nutritionally efficient. Cattle production requires less land, water and energy than in the past, and it provides 10 essential nutrients to your diet.

Of course, Americans should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but the key to healthy eating is a balanced diet that includes all the basic food groups. The fact of the matter is meat helps build a healthy body and its production and consumption contribute to our economy. Texas leads the nation in beef production thanks to our hardworking cattle producers who contribute $14.9 billion annually to our state’s economy.

If you ask me, leaders in California should be focused on serving up jobs rather than telling residents what to eat for dinner. Oh, and speaking of jobs reminds me of reason No. 1,002 to move from California to Texas: Texas is projected to grow at a rate of 1,500 people per day this decade. Now, that’s a lot of steak eaters, homebuyers and overall consumers ... all of which make for a good recipe!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Honoring Service and Sacrifice on Veterans Day

Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, America enjoys the blessings of freedom like no other nation on earth. We also know peace here at home thanks to the courage and strength of our past and present troops.

On Veterans Day, we not only thank our soldiers for their battlefield bravery, but also for the many times duty required them to be apart from their families. We thank the husband or sister who braved a hostile enemy while loved ones gathered for a birthday party. We thank the brother or daughter who missed a home-cooked meal at Christmas so we could celebrate in peace. We thank the moms and dads in uniform who struggle to stay strong knowing their children back home will ask for them at bedtime.

To the troops who return home with physical challenges and troubled reminders, we pray for your recovery and inner peace. We wish you the same inner strength today that you relied on while serving. And although Veterans Day is directed at the men and women who’ve worn the uniform, we must also thank the families who love and support them. It is your prayers, letters and phone calls that help keep our soldiers going. It is your ability to tend to home and family that provide hope for a better day.

Below are some of the courageous men and women who know the sacrifices of service. To these men and women − and their families and fellow comrades − I say thank you for granting us the freedoms we enjoy each and every day, and for protecting us from those who wish us harm.

Frankie L. Wendel, PFC, US Army
1942-45, Cayuga, TX.
(Commissioner Staples'

Your service makes me humble and proud.

Please take time today to thank a veteran for your blessings of freedom, and may God continue to watch over our troops, their families and the United States of America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

James L. Reed, PFC, US Army
1944-45, Dallas, TX. (Purple Heart)

Charles W. Prater, SGT FC, US Army
1945-55, Dallas, TX. (Bronze Star)

Tony Purcell, CPT, U.S. Army 

Donald G. Glessner, LTC, USAF (Ret.)
1967-87, San Antonio, TX

George F. Glessner, LT(JG) 
US Navy,1944-46, Darby, PA

Alison Batig, MAJ, US Army
1999-present, Tuscon, AZ

Stephen A. McGovern, Wagoner, 
US Army 
1918-1919, Phil, PA

Jon Garza, SGT, US Army (center)

Arthur J. Dembik, PFC, US Army
1944-45, Buffalo, NY

Anthony White, SSgt., USMC
2000-present, El Paso, TX

Jerry L. Starkey, OSCS (E8) US Navy
1956-85, Dallas, TX.
(Navy Achievement Medal)
Ed Donahue, U.S. Navy
1943-45, Chicago, IL

Barry McCaffrey, General (Ret), US Army
1964-96, Taunton, MA

Ronnie L. McKinney, SGT (E5)
US Army
1966-68. Dallas, TX.

James Pollard, PO1, US Navy, 1990-2002, Buda TX (back row, far left)
 G.Paul Tuttle, Pvt. US Army
1918-19, Fredonia, KS

O.E. (Bob) Morriss, Cpl, USMC
1943-1946, Bentley, KS

 Ira A. Morriss, Sgt, USMC,
Coyville, KS

Gene Paul Tuttle, Pvt, Army Air Corp.
1942-43, Fredonia, KS
 Gideon Wells Tuttle, Army,
Thayer, Kansas
Burney LaChance, Lt Col (Ret) USAF
1986-2011, Austin, TX

 Jeremiah Salame, Maj,
San Antonio, TX

Cynthia A. Miller, PO3, US Navy  
1983-87, Austin TX
John M. Lewis, SSG (P) US Army
Smithville, TX
Jessie Bettis, PO3, US Navy
1988-93, Waco TX
Bill Hoppe, Lt Col (Ret), 
USAF 1974-98, 
Nacogdoches, TX
Tim Batig, MAJ, US Army, 
Houston, TX

Gerhard Lundquist, US Army
1965-67, Seattle, WA
Shannon Lundquist, PO3, US Navy
1988-93, San Benito, TX.
(Two Navy Achievement Medals)
Earl Lundquist, E3, US Navy
1988-92, Seattle, WA
Brian Zink, US Navy
1989-92, San Jose, CA
 Rodney W. Lewis,
SSG (P) US Army
1974-85, Smithville, TX
Troy S. Watson, SSgt, 
Denton TX

Juan Rodriguez, PFC, US Army
            (Purple Heart)

John Gibson, SPC, US Army
John A. Tuley,  Lt Col, US Air Force 
1980-2001, Austin, TX
David B. Brown, 
Sgt USAF Reserve
Austin, TX
Charles Bowman, SGT, medic 25th Infantry,
Beaumont, TX. 
(Four Purple Hearts, 
Bronze Star pictured below)

Lora L. Lewis, SPC4,
US Army, 1975-77

Magnolia, OH
Miguel Bustamante, Sr.
MP, US Army,1968-69
Laredo, TX
Carl Myers, SGT, US Army
Port Arthur, TX
Anita G. Torres, Chief Hospital 
Corp Man
US Navy, 1980-2000
"Ted" Tedmon, Commodore, US Navy (Ret)
James Baumgartner, PO3, US Navy
1989-93, San Antonio, TX

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Honoring the Tradition of Family, Land, Heritage

Today marked a tradition I look forward to each year as the Texas Department of Agriculture recognized hardworking Texas families who have kept their farms and ranches in continuous agricultural production for 100 years or more.

Fittingly held in the history-rich House Chamber at the Texas State Capitol, the 37th Annual Family Land Heritage ceremony today honored 104 farms and ranches spanning 67 Texas counties. Among those properties were seven family operations celebrating an incredible 150 years of continuous agricultural production. To date, TDA has recognized more than 4,700 properties in 237 counties across Texas.

Agriculture is not an easy way of life. The days are long, the work is hard and even the best-laid plans can be cast into ruin by drought, floods, wildfire, pests and disease. To endure and survive the unforeseen ups and downs takes a lot of backbone and even more perseverance. To do it for 100 years or more is a remarkable legacy of family, land and heritage.

To those families who surpass the 100-year milestone − and to those who make it their life’s work to do so − I say thank you on behalf of all Texans who, knowingly or not, depend on you each and every day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day: Your Vote, Your Voice, Your Duty

If you haven’t cast an early ballot, duty calls tomorrow. Election Day not only determines the course of our country over the next four years, it also represents the most sacred right − and responsibility − afforded to us as Americans.

Your political opinions − and the freedom to express them – were fought for and won by our Founding Fathers and our brave men and women in uniform. You owe it to them, as much as yourself and your country, to exercise your right to vote. Today and tomorrow, I urge you to do so.

No matter which candidate wins the presidency tomorrow, it is the American process of voting that truly represents we the people. Stand up for yourself, personal responsibility and for our republic. You are the envy of the entire world.

On Election Day, honor your duty to your country and those who sacrificed so that your voice – and vote – can be counted. See you at the ballot box, Texas.