Friday, March 29, 2013

Rangers Rounding Up Rustlers

To many Texans today, the talk of cattle thieves, rustlers, and rounding them up may sound like a scene from a John Wayne movie.  Unfortunately for modern day Texas ranchers, rustlers are still active. But the good news for Texas ranchers of today is that they still have good guys to ride to their aid. 
In 2012, more than $4.4 million in stolen livestock and ranch equipment was recovered by the
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Rangers. The 10,400 head of cattle and horses recovered by the rangers in 2012 was up from 7,600 in 2011. The bad guys may be busy, but they’re not without pursuit.
With a focus on Texas and Oklahoma, the TSCRA Special Rangers report convicted thieves received 279 years of prison or other legal punishment while coughing up more than $3.8 million in restitution, fines and court costs. The costs associated with investigations, rangers’ salaries and pursuits are paid not by taxpayers, but rather by the cattle industry themselves through fees and membership dues.
While TSCRA Special Rangers stand ready to help fight crime, ranchers are reminded to brand their cattle, lock gates and mark trailers and other equipment with a driver’s license number or other means of identification to deter thieves and aid in recovery.
We all miss John Wayne, of course, but it’s good to know the TSCRA Special Rangers are still doling out professional justice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Arrives in Texas

Today marks the first day of spring, which signals the onset of warmer weather, new growth in the form of flowers, crops and animals, and unmatched optimism about the future of our great state.

Mark Twain once said, “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” It sounds like Mr. Twain may have been visiting Texas when he spoke those words. Some spring days in Texas can feel more like summer or even a mild winter with the occasional cold front. This spring, I pray we have lots of rain to yield new agricultural growth and to ease the stress being felt by urban Texans with municipal water shortages.

Although spring weather in Texas can change every five minutes, our state is ranked as the fourth warmest state during the spring season. If you plan on planting in your yard or garden, think about choices that can tolerate the stressful heat. Some beautiful spring flower options include verbena, portuluca, Mexican sunflower and periwinkle.

Great home gardening options include herbs and vegetable plants like peppers, peas, parsley, onions and lettuce. Remember, when searching for the perfect plant, look for the Texas Superstar label, you know those plants are hearty and can thrive in the Lone Star State climate.

When I reflect on spring seasons of years past, I fondly recall spending quality family time in the back yard, taking my kids fishing or swimming, participating in the tough but rewarding spring round-up, and enjoying many of the Texas festivals that occur in the months of March, April and May. I hope you and your friends and family will get outside and enjoy the beauty of Texas this spring.  Whether you plan on growing plants, crops, animals or jobs, there is no better day than today to get started.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

National Ag Day Celebrates the Goodness of Life

While it’s fair to say National Agriculture Day celebrates cattle and corn, it’s also a day of gratitude for things you may not expect.

Sure, we can thank our farmers and ranchers for produce, cotton and beef, but did you also know agriculture helps supply us with medicine, landscaping and the lumber that shelters your family? Did you know agriculture helps protect us from pests, disease and tainted fuel? Or that agriculture plays a part in tourism, rural economic development and disaster relief?

In Texas, agriculture contributes more than $100 billion to the state economy each year and supports about 1.8 million ag-related jobs, ranging from fishermen, health inspectors, genetic scientists and economists.

Food, of course, is the very foundation of agriculture. In merging modern farming and ranching techniques with today’s technology, American farmers are more productive and efficient than ever before. According to the Texas Farm Bureau, each American producer feeds 155 people in the U.S. and abroad. By comparison, in 1960, that same ag producer fed 46 people.

On National Ag Day and every other day, I’d like to thank our Texas farmers and ranchers for the hard work they do to keep us fed, clothed and healthy. Look for their products when you shop and be mindful that the fruits of their labor are not just at the grocery store, but also all around you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No Water = No Jobs

The recent announcement by the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) about likely outdoor watering restrictions will not just be an inconvenience, it will impact the economy.  

Nursery and landscaping, the original green industry, has an annual economic impact of nearly $15 billion on the Texas economy. With water restrictions, fewer plantings and outdoor activities will occur.  

Texans of the 1950s were faced with similar tough decisions on water. What was their response? Build! Build! Build! Local governments, recognizing the severe economic consequences of a lack of water, were determined to do something about it and created new water capacity that served our state well for decades.  

Today, we have a choice to make: We can ration and restrict our way forward, but this drives away jobs, decreases quality options and slows economic activity. Or, we can Conserve, Collaborate and Construct our way to meeting our needs: Conserving water through smart usage, better plants and improved technology; Collaborating with other communities and states on shared water projects; and Constructing both new capacity and modern delivery systems.

There is no single solution to solve our water woes, but there are multiple ways we can make a difference.

Texans of the 1950s are remembered for making tough decisions and providing solutions for over 60 years. How will Texans of today be remembered in 2070?

For more info on the pending SAWS regulations, go here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rodeos Round-Up Texas Traditions

As if Texans needed a reason to grab their boots and hats, Rodeo Austin kicks off today and continues an annual Lone Star tradition that delights millions of families each year.

Steeped in the celebrated customs of family fun, cowboy heritage and agriculture, our action-packed Texas rodeos offer world-class roping and riding, one-of-a-kind fair food, carnival rides, petting zoos and the biggest stars in music. No wonder our Texas pride has a worldwide reputation.

And while they feature more fun than you could hope to corral in a day, Texas rodeos also are very educational. You really do walk away with a new appreciation for agriculture and the hard work of our farmers and ranchers who help make Texas a $100 billion powerhouse of productivity.

The dust may have settled in Fort Worth and San Antonio, but with Austin saddled up and the world’s largest rodeo event in Houston running through March 17, there is still plenty of cowboy culture and agriculture to enjoy with your family and friends. Round ‘em up and rodeo, Texas.

For more Rodeo Austin information, go here. For Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo info, go here.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Hard Fight for Texas Independence

Imagine the scene 177 years ago. Texas declares independence from Mexico, March 2, 1836, only days before some 150 men committed to the Texas cause died fighting during the final assault of the Alamo and only weeks before more than 300 unarmed Texan prisoners faced execution by the Mexican Army at Goliad. Families across what is now Central and South Texas became refugees as they fled the ongoing warfare.

Safe to say, victory was not a sure thing for the new Republic of Texas. It’s a story that still stirs Texas pride and patriotism.

This Texas Independence Day, an important artifact from the Texas Revolution returns to its point of origin as the famous “Victory or Death” letter written by commander William B. Travis is displayed at the Alamo for the first time since leaving there by courier 177 years ago.

The letter, addressed to “the People of Texas & All Americans in the World,” calls for reinforcements and supplies for the badly outnumbered Texian fighters at the Alamo. Though Travis didn’t receive those reinforcements in time, the 13-day Battle of the Alamo kept Santa Anna from marching into East Texas where delegates, including Sam Houston, were meeting to officially declare Texas a free and independent nation.

Texas Independence Day is our yearly reminder of the bold and even brash ideas and actions that helped build our great state. That can-do, determined spirit still drives Texans today and makes me proud to call the Lone Star State my home.