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10 things farmers do when it rains

10 things farmers do when it rains

By Mike Barnett

And the rains came. And came. And came.

After months of speculation, weather experts announced El Niño is here. Last Friday. Ha! Texas farmers and ranchers could have made that announcement two months ago.

At least farmers and ranchers have a sense of humor. Because it’s a dire situation. One of my Facebook farmer friends posted a photo of him standing on the bow of a sailboat, scanning the horizon of a deep blue ocean. His caption: “Checking wheat this morning.”

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Agriculture needs Trade Promotion Authority

Agriculture needs Trade Promotion Authority

By Gene Hall

It’s a safe bet that most of America does not get up in the morning worried about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and agriculture.

Both, however, are worthy of thought.

There is not much more important to the financial health of a nation than trade. Trade equals jobs, a secure currency and money in the bank. In agriculture alone, in 2014, exports equaled $152 billion. That’s a lot of economic activity—a lot of jobs that could be lost if TPA is not passed.

We have another of the never-ending fights in Washington over TPA.

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The pickup lover’s Top 10

The pickup lover’s Top 10

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Throwback Thursday, Mike Barnett is reviving an old blog.

By Mike Barnett

Texas farmers and ranchers love pickups.

Doesn’t matter what brand or color, everyone has one. They carry our dust on the outside and mud on the inside. They’re decorated with dings and scratches from errant fence posts and angry cows.

Pickups haul range cubes, firewood and kids to school. The inside often smells of cow manure and wet dogs. Look in the back of a pickup and you’ll likely find welders, torches and the tools of agriculture’s trade.

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Hey, EPA: Don’t mess with my barbecue!

Hey, EPA: Don’t mess with my barbecue!

By Mike Barnett

Backyard barbecues. EPA. Mix the two and what do you get? A pollution study with the potential to kill hot dog and hamburger cookouts. At least that’s how I read it.

Sometimes those not involved in agriculture have a hard time understanding all the fuss Texas farmers and ranchers raise about the environmental agency. For example, a rule now being finalized by EPA could bring regulation of water down to bar ditches and fields—potentially affecting every management practice used by the farmer or rancher. It’s a hard concept to grasp unless it affects you.

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Wildflowers in Texas: Road trip!

Wildflowers in Texas: Road trip!

By Mike Barnett

A Florida friend asked me last week if I was going to take a road trip over the Easter weekend to see the Texas wildflowers.

There’s no prettier place than Texas in the spring, he said. And he’s right.

I was beginning to despair earlier in March. Cold, wet weather with nary a wildflower to be found.

Then I heard there was color in South Texas. Lots of color.

So I packed up last weekend and headed south of San Antonio.

And I found it. Colors of every hue. Covering the roadsides and the fields in a blanket of blaze.

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5 family farm facts you should know

5 family farm facts you should know

By Mike Barnett

Family farm. Two words Americans love. With good reason.

Family means many things. Loving. Caring. Nurturing.

All apply to the family farmers I know. Too bad there are many misconceptions about what family farms are and aren’t.

Could be many of us are far removed from farm life. Some think of family farms as idyllic—a small place where the sun always shines, with chickens and cows, a patch of corn and a vegetable garden.

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