Monday, April 22, 2013

Every Day is Earth Day for Hardworking Farmers and Ranchers

As the world celebrates Earth Day today, I thank the men and women who tirelessly cultivate 
Photo Pat Sullivan,
the land that provides the food and fiber for all the earth’s inhabitants. Farmers and ranchers, I honor you today and every day for the immeasurable contributions you have made and continue to make.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands." 

That sentiment rings true today. Farmers and ranchers are the true cultivators of the earth and the original environmentalists. Our ancestors worked hard for us and we now work hard for the generations of today and tomorrow. We know that in order to achieve the same degree of lasting productivity and sustainability, this land we call home must always be protected.

Water conservation is one of the many ways to help preserve, and the Texas Water Smart coalition has great tips to help every Texan curb wasteful water usage.  Other ways to preserve include improving wildlife habitats and erosion protection so that there are beautiful lands left for the rest of us to enjoy along with our abundant, safe and affordable food supply.

On Earth Day and every day, be sure to thank our farmers and ranchers who preserve the environment, protect our food and improve our world. To learn more about what farmers and ranchers do for the environment, please visit: Agriculture is Your Culture.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Remembering West, Boston on San Jacinto Day

After a long week that tested us all, I am thankful to celebrate San Jacinto Day and the power of the American spirit.

This past week we as a nation came together to offer support and take action in the face of danger and tragedy. I think about the first-responders in West and Boston and how they put their own lives in peril to save the lives of others. In the aftermath, one thing is clear: Texans and Americans pull together and overcome.

On the eve of the battle of San Jacinto, as the Texas army chased Santa Anna’s troops, they still held onto the memories of their fallen patriots at The Alamo and Goliad. This San Jacinto Day, my hope is that we, as a nation and as a state, move forward, not in vengeance but resilience. Together we can help our fellow Americans and Texans heal from tragedy.

“Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world,” is inscribed on the base of the San Jacinto Monument that marks the place where Texas secured its freedom. The events of this past week will also be measured by results, by how we deal with adversity. Relying on fierce Texas grit and the unyielding American spirit, I am confident that we will overcome and continue to lead the way.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prayers for West

Returning from Dallas last night on I-35, southbound traffic came to a complete standstill several miles north of Waco, something not too unusual and always dreaded. While stopped, we first noticed one, then two, then lost count of the numerous emergency vehicles hurrying along the service road and the shoulders of the road -- all headed south. At first, it appeared there must be a horrific traffic accident up ahead. Then, snippets coming across FOX News described the fertilizer plant explosion near Waco, which we now know occurred in the historic and often visited town of West, Texas.

After an hour and a half parked on I-35, the traffic began to move. As we approached West, you could immediately sense the enormity of what had occurred. The smell from the explosion was distinct in the air as we approached. Then, passing over the main crossroad
in town, emergency vehicles were lined up east and west as far as you could see. Massive smoke clouds lingered to the east of I-35. Search and rescue aircraft where overhead beaming down massive lights to aid those below. Even driving past West, for miles, you could see countless emergency vehicles headed north toward the scene.

The headline of the Wall Street Journal this morning reports the blast killed five to fifteen. Area hospitals are flooded with the injured seeking aid and the damage, not yet fully assessed, is extreme.

It appears, several of those killed were emergency personnel, they bravely rushed into danger to save lives, but these heroes were struck down when the initial fire erupted into a terrible explosion. Remember this small community in your prayers today, and the emergency responders who raced to their rescue.   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Water Managers Say Mexico Water Release A "Joke"


SOUTH TEXAS - Mexico has agreed to release a small amount of water into the Rio Grande River for U.S. consumption. U.S. officials have been calling on our neighbor to the south due to the worsening drought situation.

Officials from the U.S. side of the border agree that the water from Mexico will do little to ease worries here in the Valley.

Water coming from a reservoir on Mexico's San Rodrigo River entered the Rio Grande ear El Moral. The exact amount of water released is unknown.

Irrigation District Number 9's manager Jo Jo White calls the gesture a joke and an insult; White adds it is not even a drop in the bucket.

Delta Irrigation District Manager Troy Allen worries farmers and cities will get the wrong idea. Allen says, "My fear is with this article is that the farmers and the municipalities are going to think that our problems are solved and they're not. This really didn't solve anything. To me it just made things worse."

A spokesperson with the International Boundary and Water Commission calls the release from Mexico "small."

In a letter sent to valley congressmen yesterday the I.B.W.C. says the have made several proposals to Mexico for immediate water deliveries to the U.S.

They say the response from Mexico has been slower than expected.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Save Water, Save Money, Save Texas

In an ongoing effort toward to solve Texas ‘critical water crisis, I along with State Sen. Troy Fraser announced the passage of Senate Resolution 593 honoring the statewide impact and success of the Texas Water Smart coalition. 

All Texans should take a serious look at their individual water habits. We all can make a difference in our water supply by adopting common-sense ways to conserve. I want to thank the nearly 130 legislators and 150 other Texas Water Smart coalition members who have committed themselves to educating Texans about the critical need for water. 

Texas Water Smart, launched April 2, 2012, is a public-private partnership of nearly 300 businesses, associations, research organizations and state and local officials. Through a highly successful consumer education program, Texas Water Smart has raised awareness about water conservation by encouraging homeowners and businesses to adopt daily habits to curb wasteful water usage.  

Sen. Fraser filed the Senate resolution in recognition of Texas Water Smart’s efforts to raise consumer awareness about water conservation and the coalition’s commitment toward relieving the state’s water crisis. State Rep. Allan Ritter filed a companion resolution in the State House of Representatives. 

On Friday, State Sen. Craig Estes and Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham announced the city of Wichita Falls has joined the Texas Water Smart coalition and are urging residents to conserve water. If current water levels do not improve, Wichita Falls could be forced to enact Stage 4 water restrictions as early as this summer.

The Lone Star State continues to attempt recovery from the historic 2011 drought, which depleted drinking water supplies, hurt businesses and cost the state $8.3 billion in agricultural losses. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 88 percent of the state is experiencing some degree of drought conditions.

Full text of the Texas Senate Resolution 593 honoring the Texas Water Smart coalition will be available at 

For more information about Texas Water Smart and daily water saving tips for homeowners and businesses, visit

Friday, April 5, 2013

Texas has hogs, Hawaii has frogs

Most Texans are all too familiar with the tremendous damage caused by feral hogs. If you have not had your pasture, yard, neighborhood golf course or favorite park spot damaged yet, just wait. Many Texans have likely seen the aftermath of an unsuspecting meeting between a feral hog and an automobile on the side of a state highway.

The invasion of unwanted pests is also occurring in another state, but there it is frogs, not
hogs. That's right, Hawaii is suffering so much from these unwanted amphibians called the coqui frog that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture has a staff member now referred to as the "frog whisperer." According to a Wall Street Journal article, these frogs cause so much noise they have become a damaging menace to both homeowners and tourists alike. Some compare the sound of the frogs’ chirps to lawn mowers, leaf blowers and even jet engines. I listened to a clip of the frogs on YouTube and while I wouldn't compare the pests to these objects, there is no way I could sleep with the chirping going on.

Especially alarming is how the coqui arrived in Hawaii. Indigenous to Puerto Rico, the frogs made their way across the Pacific Ocean as stowaways on cargo ships. Intrepid pests such as these is why the Texas Department of Agriculture utilizes partnerships with USDA inspectors at sea ports and our own TDA road side inspectors, to detect and deter the entry.

Citrus growers in the Valley constantly struggle to eliminate the Asian citrus psyllid and prevent the spread of citrus greening, and cotton farmers in all regions of Texas continue to battle the boll weevil in an effort that is finally paying off as farmers are closing in on getting the pest under manageable conditions. These programs are tremendously costly.  Wind and storms are unavoidable mechanisms to circulate unwanted agricultural pests, human mistakes must be avoided. 

While it is funny to learn about a Hawaiian "frog whisperer," the unwanted damage invasive pests cause is no laughing matter. I want us in Texas to remain vigilant to stop pests before they arrive so we can save our money or spend it on important causes such as getting our transportation system up to speed. It’s hard enough to get the hog out of Texas, let us not have to also battle pesky frogs of unwanted pests and diseases that cause havoc on our state's agricultural economy. Like our feral hogs, the coqui frog population has exploded over the last several years.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mexican Cartels Declared As Most Significant Threat to Texas

A new state intelligence report released by the Texas Department of Public Safety has identified Mexican cartels as the most significant organized crime threat to Texas. According to the report, six of the eight Mexican cartels currently have command and control networks operating within Texas borders.

This report provides mounting evidence of a dangerous, insecure border. It confirms the stories of intimidation, trespassing and fear I have heard from landowners and law
enforcement personnel all across the state. While Washington continues to deny these simple facts by making irresponsible claims like “borderis better now than it ever has been” and “theborder is safe”, Texans are left in the crosshairs of violent Mexican drug cartels.

Luckily we have leaders here in our great state, such as DPS Director Steven McCraw and Public Safety Commission Chair Cindy Leon who know, first-hand the reality of the daily threats to Texans, our economy and our way of life. I hope members of the current administration in Washington read this report and take action to provide Texas with the resources to protect our citizens living in harm’s way.

Keep in mind, this DPS report was developed prior to the announced cut-back actions along the border the administration is taking in regard to the 'sequester.'  There is no room for less
federal law enforcement assistance from Washington here in the Lone Star State, we need them to step up to a satisfactory level. As of today, no rebuttal or denial of the fact that California, Arizona and New Mexico has over 14 border agents per border mile and Texas has barely over 6. This inequity is leading to larger volumes of traffic right across Texas landowners’ private property.