Texas Neighbors Spring 2015 : Page 18

TEXAS NEIGHBORS | WINTER SPRING 2015 Year in and year out, Texas corn farmers face one huge challenge—Mother Nature! By Julie Tomascik Assistant Editor Drive across the Lone Star State in the spring and you’ll see fields green with crops. Row after row of seedlings emerging from the soil. Soaking in moisture and basking in the sunlight. But there’s one that stands out from all the rest—corn. Easily the most recognizable crop in the state, corn starts as golden kernels and grows into 7-8 feet tall plants. It’s a crop that works well for many Texas farmers. “Corn is a good fit for us in our area,” said Johnson County farmer Jay Davis. “My family’s been growing corn on and off for 40 years, but we’ve been consistent corn growers for about the last 12 years.” Davis farms with his parents and sister, Joy, in and around the Grandview area. WWW.TEXASFARMBUREAU.ORG Corn is a crop they know and un-derstand. It takes a combination of ad-equate rainfall, fertilizer and favorable temperatures to reach harvest. A few prayers never hurt either. Davis and his family start planning for their corn crop nearly a year in ad-vance of harvest. Seed purchases, ground preparation and equipment maintenance must be handled before the seed is planted. “It’s our goal to have the seedbed prepared by October of the year prior to the crop,” Davis said. “In that way, we try to conserve as much moisture as possible that we get through the fall and win-ter and leave that soil undisturbed.” Once those preparations are made, it’s time to plant. But this year, it’s too wet to get in the field by the ideal planting time—March 31. Farmers across the state faced delays because of winter rains and a late freeze. “It’s our intentions to get the crop in the ground by the end of

Golden Kernels

Julie Tomascik

Year in and year out, Texas corn farmers face one huge challenge—Mother Nature!

Drive across the Lone Star State in the spring and you’ll see fields green with crops. Row after row of seedlings emerging from the soil. Soaking in moisture and basking in the sunlight.

But there’s one that stands out from all the rest—corn.

Easily the most recognizable crop in the state, corn starts as golden kernels and grows into 7-8 feet tall plants.

It’s a crop that works well for many Texas farmers.

“Corn is a good fit for us in our area,” said Johnson County farmer Jay Davis. “My family’s been growing corn on and off for 40 years, but we’ve been consistent corn growers for about the last 12 years.”

Davis farms with his parents and sister, Joy, in and around the Grandview area.

Corn is a crop they know and understand. It takes a combination of adequate rainfall, fertilizer and favorable temperatures to reach harvest.

A few prayers never hurt either.

Davis and his family start planning for their corn crop nearly a year in advance of harvest. Seed purchases, ground preparation and equipment maintenance must be handled before the seed is planted.

“It’s our goal to have the seedbed prepared by October of the year prior to the crop,” Davis said. “In that way, we try to conserve as much moisture as possible that we get through the fall and winter and leave that soil undisturbed.”

Once those preparations are made, it’s time to plant.

But this year, it’s too wet to get in the field by the ideal planting time—March 31. Farmers across the state faced delays because of winter rains and a late freeze.

“It’s our intentions to get the crop in the ground by the end of March,” Davis said. “If we don’t have it in the ground by then, we don’t have high expectations for that year’s harvest.”

If they aren’t able to get their seed in the ground by that time, the Davises have to decide whether they’ll take the gamble or look at alternative crops.

But they made it in the ground this year with just days to spare.

As the rest of spring marches on and fades into summer, Davis will scout the fields, watching for weeds and signs of stress to the corn.

“Our biggest obstacle is weather,” Davis said.

Drought conditions stress the corn. But so can too much moisture. It’s a delicate balance that only Mother Nature can control.

Harvest season approaches as the green corn fields turn to gold.

But it all depends on the weather.

In a normal year, combines will start swiftly rolling through the fields in late July or early August. In hot, dry years, harvest will start earlier in the Central Texas area—at the beginning of July.

And all that will remain are corn stalks. A sign that summer is in full swing and the state’s corn crop is in the bins.

THIS IS FARM BUREAU

Property rights, water top list of state legislative priorities

Back in session. Back to work. The halls of the Texas State Capitol are bustling as lawmakers map out the future of the Lone Star State.

More than 6,000 bills have been filed this session—4,247 in the House and 2,058 in the Senate. It’s the most bills filed since the 81st legislative session in 2009.

Even with more than normal proposed measures, Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) remains focused on a core group of priorities—protecting water rights and private property rights, reducing tax burdens and enforcing local control.

“Texas agriculture, as a business, is affected by the same issues that any small business is affected by,” TFB State Legislative Director Billy Howe said. “From an agricultural perspective, reducing the burden of regulations, guaranteeing access to water and lowering tax burdens are major issues at the state level.”

Those same priorities also resonate with urban and suburban areas.

Landowners—no matter where they live—own the groundwater under their land. TFB opposes legislation that attempts to take away any constitutionally-protected rights to water.

And protecting water rights also means ensuring landowners’ property rights aren’t abused.

From land use regulation to the Endangered Species Act, landowners’ property rights must be considered.

“We look to protect the property rights of all Texans, whether that’s urban, suburban or rural,” Howe said. “We want to ensure that no matter where they live, property owners’ rights are protected under eminent domain law.”

Taxes. They’re also an issue of concern each legislative session.

Howe noted TFB advocates to ensure sure tax policy does not adversely impact or burden those in agriculture or in urban areas.

Follow along on Twitter using hashtags #TxLege for the latest legislative information throughout the session.

Val Stephens, Zack Yanta join TFB leadership

Steeped in tradition, the legacy of Farm Bureau runs deep through its member-families. And new Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) State Directors Val Stephens, District 6, and Zack Yanta, District 12, are no exception.

A third generation farmer, Stephens grows cotton on the same property his grandparents settled in 1924. It’s a family tradition he’s been proud to carry on for more than 40 years.

Stephens’ father, Jesse, served on TFB’s board of directors from 1986 to 1989.

“If you’re going to be a cotton farmer—or involved in agriculture in any way—in Dawson County, you need to be associated with good people and good policy,” Stephens said. “And that’s Texas Farm Bureau.”

Although he moved back to the farm in 1976, Stephens never really left. His father gave him a quarter section to farm while he was in high school and he continued farming it through his collegiate years.

After Stephens graduated, he was expected to serve on the county Farm Bureau board. That’s when he started out, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Over in Karnes County, Yanta was always interested in agriculture, even at a young age.

“As a kid, I loved nature and everything about the outdoors,” he said. “I just knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture, and I was good at it.”

That agricultural passion helped the fifth generation farmer and rancher get involved in TFB, an organization that complemented his family values and tradition. He joined the local organization shortly after he moved back to the farm in 1988, following his graduation from Texas A&M University.

Yanta’s father was also active in Karnes County Farm Bureau, even signing the county organization’s charter as its president.

A cow-calf operation, stockers and fed cattle in the feedyard, along with farming corn, cotton and grain sorghum in several surrounding counties keep Yanta busy. His family even farmed rice 100 miles from home in Lavaca County for seven years. But he feels it’s his duty to give his time to Texas agriculture and the state’s farmers and ranchers.

“TFB is like an extended family, and I need to give back to the other farmers and ranchers and the organization that has given so much to me,” he said.

This is Yanta’s second time serving the organization as a state director. He previously represented District 12 from 1996 to 2002.

A strong legacy in agriculture and deep roots in TFB will guide the new directors in their leadership roles.

Smith CFB is named ‘Most Outstanding’

Sharing the story of agriculture and engaging a community isn’t always an easy task, but it’s one that the Smith County Farm Bureau (CFB) took on wholeheartedly last year. For their efforts, the CFB received the 2014 Most Outstanding County Farm Bureau award.

Through teamwork, the CFB’s leaders, employees and members promoted agriculture, legislative involvement and Farm Bureau.

County leaders met with their state and national legislators to discuss issues important not only to farmers and ranchers, but to the area as a whole.

They also sponsored activities locally for young farmers and ranchers and promoted youth by sending a representative to TFB’s Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) in Stephenville.

At YLC, students learn about being a leader, entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system. By attending YLC, students are eligible for TFB scholarships and gain an education that lasts a lifetime.

“We tried to get the youth involved in Farm Bureau activities as far as the Free Enterprise Speech Contest, YLC and the Young Farmer & Rancher program,” Chad Gulley, Smith CFB president, said. “We’re promoting agriculture locally through our clientele, the ag tour, Planet Agriculture at the East Texas State Fair, Ag in the Classroom and various programs we did throughout the year.”

The county also participated in Texas Food Connection Week, formerly Food Check-Out Week, which encourages county Farm Bureaus to engage with consumers and their community to talk about their food and how it is grown or raised.

Although Smith CFB took home the Most Outstanding award this year, they won’t sit on their laurels. They plan to continue their engaging and educational programs to truly connect with their community.

“Our goal is to promote agriculture,” Gulley said. “With society nowadays, where so many people are more removed from the farm, it’s an opportunity for us to educate about the importance of agriculture because without it, we won’t have food on our table, clothes and those types of things. Agriculture is very important to our future.”

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Golden+Kernels/1964539/251234/article.html.

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