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My favorite photos from 2014

My favorite photos from 2014

By Mike Barnett

Photography’s my passion. It allows me to capture special moments, times and places and keep those memories forever. It just happens to coincide with my other passions: agriculture and rural Texas. There are so many great stories to tell and what better way than through pictures.

Here are some of my personal favorites—a month-to-month journey through 2014.

 

January. I am fortunate to live right down the street from Lake Waco. I make it a habit to go outside every night before sunset and check the sky. I knew this was going to be a good one. Spectacular clouds and light.

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10 things you should know about Texas agriculture

10 things you should know about Texas agriculture

By Mike Barnett

Everything’s bigger and better in Texas. Even agriculture.

Most Texans know our ranchers herd more cattle and farmers grow more cotton than those in any other state. But you are probably not aware of many other fascinating aspects of agriculture in the Lone Star State.

Here’s my Top 10, gleaned from the 2012 Agriculture Census .

10) Fun on the farm.

Texas farms and ranches account for 19 percent of agri-tourism and recreation dollars in the U.S.  That means $133 million flows into rural areas as Texans enjoy wineries, hunting, ranches and other experiences.

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GMO state labeling initiatives are shut out

GMO state labeling initiatives are shut out

By Gene Hall

There were two mandatory labeling issues for GMOs on state ballots Tuesday. Both were defeated.

In Oregon, the labeling measure was barely turned back with a 51 percent “no” vote. In Colorado, it was much more decisive with a 66 percent “no.”

In Hawaii—Maui to be exact—there was a local initiative to ban growing GMO crops altogether. It passed. As yet unexplained is the rationale, because these votes are not based on anything rational. GMO papaya is resistant to ringspot virus, and the non-GMO kind probably can’t be grown there. But hey, that’s someone else’s problem, right?

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Businesses derailed by UP action

Businesses derailed by UP action

By Mike Barnett

Terry Buzbee watched pickups roll into his feed store for 32 years. He built Buzbee Feed & Seed, located off busy Highway 6 just east of Waco, into a thriving business. But it doesn’t thrive anymore.

What he sees now are customers pulling up to a blockaded entrance. And moving on.

It’s a hardship for his patrons, who now must navigate their way on a dangerous, narrow back road to buy their feed. It’s a corporate decision for Union Pacific, who closed the railroad crossing, denying access to the business.

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Does EPA know they won the big one?

Does EPA know they won the big one?

By Gene Hall

There was a time when our environment was in serious trouble. The EPA went to war against big time polluters. You know what? They won.

I know there’s a big time activist industry that benefits financially from constantly selling an environmental disaster. Still, no serious person would deny we’ve made great strides in cleaning up and protecting the environment.

But it’s not acceptable to continue the fight using all the heavy artillery that was needed four decades ago. The big guns of government are now mostly churning out economy sapping, crippling and punitive regulations that no longer make sense.

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When we say grassroots, we really mean it

When we say grassroots, we really mean it

By Gene Hall

Fall is my favorite time of the year, even if I have to deal with allergies and even if my favorite football teams struggle a bit.

“Crispness in the air” greets me in the morning. The robe feels good for coffee on the back porch. Then there are the county Farm Bureau annual meetings.

The good folks in five of these county organizations made me part of their conventions this year. That’s about average for me. I get to go and eat good barbecue, sometimes catfish or other fare. I speak on issues and hopefully humorous stories. There was a dessert contest in one county. I ate too much. There are door prizes. There are discussions about how to use Texas Farm Bureau, “The Voice of Texas Agriculture.”

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