Texas Agriculture June 3, 2016 : Page 26

Legislative Ag Day helps bridge agricultural gap By Justin Green Staff Writer Texas legislators and legislative staff came together with three coun-ty Farm Bureaus at the Stiles Farm Foundation in Thrall for a special Legislative Ag Day on May 12. The goal of the day was to engage and educate the participants about the variety of agricultural practices in Texas. Travis County Farm Bureau leaders believed many legislators and their staff in Austin really didn’t have the information or the personal background about agricul-ture to help in their decision mak-ing. The Williamson County Farm Bureau and Hays County Farm Bu-reau assisted with the event. “So from that initial discussion, we worked on terms of ‘let’s work to-gether,’ let’s try to get key people out of the legislative process and into this environment where they could see agriculture at its best and also to have a better understanding of the economics that agriculture is deal-ing with,” Cliff Kessler, Travis Coun-ty Farm Bureau president, said. The day’s activities included a milking demonstration and lessons on beef cattle, how cotton is grown, shooting safety and more. Those who attended the event thought it was a great way to get out and learn hands-on from farm-ers and ranch-ers who practice their trade every day. “I thought this was a great op-portunity to edu-cate and let peo-ple know what’s going on in agri-culture. We are such an agricul-h tural state, and it’s i important that the folks in Austin have an idea of what’s going on out here,” Rep. Gary VanDeaver from House District 1 id said. Being a former agriculture teach-er and coming from strong agricul-tural ties, VanDeaver said he doesn’t 26 J UNE 3 , 2016

Legislative Ag Day Helps Bridge Agricultural Gap

Justin Green

Texas legislators and legislative staff came together with three county Farm Bureaus at the Stiles Farm Foundation in Thrall for a special Legislative Ag Day on May 12.

The goal of the day was to engage and educate the participants about the variety of agricultural practices in Texas.

Travis County Farm Bureau leaders believed many legislators and their staff in Austin really didn’t have the information or the personal background about agriculture to help in their decision making. The Williamson County Farm Bureau and Hays County Farm Bureau assisted with the event.

“So from that initial discussion, we worked on terms of ‘let’s work together,’ let’s try to get key people out of the legislative process and into this environment where they could see agriculture at its best and also to have a better understanding of the economics that agriculture is dealing with,” Cliff Kessler, Travis County Farm Bureau president, said.

The day’s activities included a milking demonstration and lessons on beef cattle, how cotton is grown, shooting safety and more.

Those who attended the event thought it was a great way to get out and learn handson from farmers and ranchers who practice their trade every day.

“I thought this was a great opportunity to educate and let people know what’s going on in agriculture. We are such an agricultural state, and it’s important that the folks in Austin have an idea of what’s going on out here,” Rep. Gary VanDeaver from House District 1 said.

Being a former agriculture teacher and coming from strong agricultural ties, VanDeaver said he doesn’t take agricultural issues lightly.

When making agriculturalbased decisions, VanDeaver keeps in mind he’s impacting someone’s livelihood.

House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock member Mary Gonzalez was also in attendance at the Legislative Ag Day.

Growing up on a farm, Gonzalez was involved in 4-H, showing dairy heifers and goats. Her father was a county Extension agent for 20 years, helping mold her passion for agriculture.

Gonzalez thought the event was important for everyone who attended.

“I thought the best way to make policy is to connect with it, touch it, personalize it. And so by bringing people to the Stiles Farm, they get to see more than just words on a paper. They can understand the impact, and they can truly see what we’re doing on the ag committee,” Gonzalez said.

From an initial reaction, Kessler said he could see this event becoming part of the program.

“How better to get to the people making the decisions about agriculture’s future and to give them a better understanding of how those decisions might affect them,” Kessler said.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Legislative+Ag+Day+Helps+Bridge+Agricultural+Gap/2500875/307614/article.html.

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