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Kicking off Sunday with agriculture

Kicking off Sunday with agriculture

By Gary Joiner

The biggest game of the year is just days away. About 115 million folks—myself included—will turn on the TV for Super Bowl 50.

The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will battle it out on the field.

But Texas chicken growers will be among the big winners Sunday. Because the food of choice for many is chicken wings. And a lot of them. More than 1.6 billion chicken wing portions will fly through the fingers of football fans across the country. That’s about 14 wings per viewer.

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Fertilizer industry is serious about safety

Fertilizer industry is serious about safety

By Gary Joiner

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is in Waco. It’s hosting a public meeting to outline its report on the explosion of a fertilizer plant in West in 2013. The explosion obliterated the facility, killed 15 people and caused widespread damage to more than 150 nearby buildings. The event sent major shockwaves through the Texas farm and ranch community.

The report says federal agencies need to tighten their standards for ammonium nitrate. OSHA and EPA must do a better job, the board believes.

Who’s already doing a better job is the industry itself, those who handle and store fertilizer products. An organization called ResponsibleAg is helping.

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The value of farm news

The value of farm news

By Gary Joiner

A longtime voice of Rio Grande Valley agriculture passed away recently. Charlie Rankin was 90.

For more than four decades, Charlie was a trusted friend of Valley farmers and ranchers. His farm reports on local television and radio aired in the morning and at noon. His news was a vital part of the day. Farmers and ranchers took time to listen for Charlie. He was a farm broadcaster who was part of their agricultural operation.

Local farm broadcasters are still on air in Texas and across the country. But not nearly as many as there were in Charlie’s day. It’s sad, but that’s the nature of modern communications. Times change.

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In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

By Gene Hall

In my more cynical moments, I suspect that the great confusion and controversy surrounding agriculture today is on purpose.

In this mindset, I can easily conclude that those organizations that survive by demonizing modern agriculture manipulate the language and the labels to suit their own purposes. In this way, passions are inflamed. Money is raised. A public is misled. Calling you “Big Ag” could mean “Big Bucks” for me even though all I’ve contributed to the debate are a couple of politically charged words.

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An agricultural view of the race for the White House

An agricultural view of the race for the White House

By Gene Hall

The following views are my own. Neither my employer, Texas Farm Bureau, nor its AGFUND PAC has ever endorsed a candidate for president. As an ag writer for most of four decades, I am compelled to ask myself, “What kind of candidate would be good for agriculture?” This is not, however, an endorsement or even a hint of one.

An affinity for agriculture issues would help, as would an understanding of farm and ranch people. Farm and ranch families now comprise less than two percent of the population. Leadership pragmatic enough to listen and compromise on agricultural legislation is the only way anything to do with agriculture even gets a vote.

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Reflecting on three decades of Texas agriculture

Reflecting on three decades of Texas agriculture

I have a confession to make. I never meant to stay this long.

Nearly three decades ago, I was employed by Texas Farm Bureau—28 years, five months and 29 days to be exact. I was much younger then, searching for my calling with visions of my own business dancing in my head.

Then something funny happened. I started to believe. For the first time in my life, I was truly involved with the issues of agriculture. I witnessed the daily struggle of farmers and ranchers trying to stay ahead. I saw an organization with a steel resolve to make life better on the farm and ranch.

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