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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Clay Birdwell Leaves a Legacy of Leadership

Clay Birdwell, a native Texan with a true passion for agriculture, passed away this morning
with his family by his side. Not only did he dedicate his life to raising cattle, he always went above and beyond in his service to the industry, becoming one of the great agricultural leaders in the Lone Star State. 

Born in Odessa, Clay earned his degree in business from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Birdwell’s determination and commitment to agriculture are ever evident in his service on the board of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He was elected multiple times to the TSCRA board, serving as director in March 1995, second vice president in 2009, first vice president in 2011 and most recently as president. Clay was also the president of Great Plains Cattle Feeders and Birdwell Cattle Co. in Hereford, Texas. 

The agriculture industry thanks Clay for his many years of service and accomplishments that will always be cherished. We offer our prayers to his family and we will continue to honor Clay by remembering the incredible legacy he has left behind. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Russian Delegation Travels to Texas

I recently had the opportunity to meet with President Rustem Khamitov of Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan to open a dialogue about trade between Russia and the United States. Bashkortostan is one of the leading agricultural regions of the Russian Federation whose interests include timber processing, grains, meat, dairy products, horse breeding and poultry farming.

As Agriculture Commissioner, I’m very fortunate that I get to meet with people from all across Texas and around the globe. It’s through these meetings that we get to build valuable partnerships that results in a strong economy and more robust job growth from the private sector.

During my meeting with the 11-member Russian delegation, I had the opportunity to discuss trade opportunities for Texas livestock and other agriculture products. It was a focused, productive conversation that will hopefully lead to future collaborations. Here at TDA, we plan to work with the delegation, as well as their Minister of Agriculture, and it’s my hope that, ultimately, this will lead to stronger trade opportunities for Texas agriculture producers. This could be just the beginning of future partnerships with Bashkortostan, and I look forward to all of the possibilities.

Plus, we had the opportunity to share with them a Texas treasure—fresh Gulf shrimp. GO TEXAN member Quality Seafood prepared a delicious, fresh seafood salad using locally-grown products and Gulf shrimp. It was a great treat for us, and an excellent way to show our friends all Texas has to offer.