Kayla Weaver

Session 6 of AgriPOWER found our class exploring just a small part of the huge state of Texas. After flying into Dallas, we bonded on the drive to the Lubbock area and were welcomed to Dan Taylor’s farm with a delicious brisket lunch. A former ag teacher, Dan is also a retired farmer and cotton gin owner with a passion for preserving the history of the cotton industry as evidenced by the memorabilia in his barns.

Busters Gin TexasWith our newly acquired knowledge of cotton growing and harvesting, we headed over to Buster’s Cotton Gin and walked through the machines and processes from where raw cotton comes in to how quickly it is dried and cleaned and run through the gin where the fiber is separated from the seed and made into 500 pound bales to be sold. Cotton is graded on quality factors to determine market pricing, similar to our grain crops in Ohio. Each bale is also tagged and can be traced back to the field where it was grown.

Rounding out our first day of tours was the FiberMax Center for Discovery that brings agriculture to life for people of all backgrounds. Their outdoor space allows for exploration of a unique collection of equipment and their indoor exhibits bring history to life with a variety of still exhibits and mix of technology to showcase the past and highlight advancements that have brought us to today.

We then caught a brief view of Texas Tech’s campus before dinner where we were able to catch up with Ohio native, Kameron Rinehart who gave us some insight into his experience so far in his agricultural education PhD program at Texas Tech.

Our second day of tours found us back on the road heading north to Coffey Seed Company in Plainview, Texas. Specializing in forage seeds, Chris Leach explained some of the work they’ve done to breed forage plants that are both more adaptable to their respective climates and more digestible for their livestock consumers. Their modest set-up houses some important processes and seed technology for forages across the US as well as internationally with a second location for seed trials located in Puerto Rico.

Legacy Farms Dairy was our next stop and offered a glimpse into the differences the same industry sectors may face in different areas. While their main location is in Plainview, Texas, the Bouma family also operates a dairy farm in Ohio and has recently been looking to invest in another location – possibly in Ohio, or Kentucky. While Ohio offers some things Texas may not, like high quality grains and more water availability, they have faced more issues with local governments and difficult neighbors. While many of their cows bear a resemblance to the classic Holstein dairy cows, they are diving into different breeds to develop cows that are more tolerant to the heat resulting in some unique hump back long eared calves that while more tolerant to the heat, also require a bit more attention during the intermittent freezing weather of North Texas winters.

Texas cattle feedlotWe then continued north to Happy, Texas and were met by more than 60,000 cattle at Quien Sabe Feeders – a beef feedlot that is actually on the smaller side for Texas. Animal health and care is a top priority for managing their herds. We also gained insight into the changes in the meat packing industry and the demand for more pricing transparency from the packers. Another common theme here, as well as the rest of West Texas is the changes in water availability. While wells aren’t running dry, there have been drastic changes to their water resources in the last 20 years.

Our final tour for the day took us to the West Texas A&M meat lab and beef carcass research center. We toured their state-of-the-art butchering facilities and learned about all the hands-on opportunities available to students with their sensory lab, kitchen that supplies some menu items to the school’s café and the student operated store that sells a variety of cuts of meat as well as specialty snack sticks and jerky. The research center also gives students insight into the industry as they collect data from packing plants sometimes working alongside USDA inspectors.

The day wrapped up with a short break to take in the amazing views at the Palo Duro Canyon – the second largest canyon in the U.S. – before heading back to our hotel for the night.

Our final day in Texas was spent at the Fort Worth Stockyards where we explored the historical buildings that remain – the exchange building, historic hotels, a small portion of the cattle pens and many others that have been repurposed into shopping and restaurants to invite a modern and comfortable feel to visitors while they get a touch of the history and heritage of the Texas cattle industry.

Overall it was a fantastic trip to see the similarities and differences in the agricultural industry across our nation. We’re all facing different issues, but working toward a common goal and fighting for an industry we love.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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