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Range Management During Drought Stressed at Annual Texoma Ag Seminar

story by Dee Ann Littlefield

Over 100 agriculture producers turned out for the annual Texoma Ag Seminar recently held in Clay County. The event kicked off with a lunch sponsored by ADM Alliance Nutrition, who gave a beef cattle nutrition update during the meal.

Educational workshops in the afternoon featured Chad Fikes, Texoma Hathcery, who gave a talk on pond management. This year, the priority for USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding is addressing water issues, including the construction of ponds and drilling wells. This was important information to many Clay County producers attending the seminar.

Kent Neville, Clay County Emergency Management Coordinator, and the Texas Forest Service gave a brief Fire Wise Update. Henry Krueskopf, Texas Department of Agriculture, talked about laws and regulations for pesticide applicators. Finally, Chuck Coffey, Noble Foundation Forage Specialist, spoke to the audience about the effects of last year's drought on pastures. Coffey emphasized the severe shortage of rainfall will have negative impacts on area range land throughout the next couple of years.

According to Coffey, "Stressed pastures can take a long time to recover, and the issue needs to be addressed."

Coffey said 2012 will prove to us all just how important grass is to the livestock industry. He acknowledged it is very difficult to sell cows and reduce stocking rates, but a livestock producer's focus should be on the health of his/her pastures in order to be profitable over the long term. Continued overgrazing will only further degrade the land, causing even more problems in the future.

The day ended with a grazing hour from 5:30-7:30 pm. The grazing hour provided local businesses an opportunity to display goods and services. In addition to information about their product, the exhibitors offered food at each of their booths. Businesses and organizations participating included First National Bank of Byers, Archer Title, Dairy Queen, TEEA, DuPont, Waggoner's Boot Center, Quality Implement, Berend Brothers, Wells Fargo, Spray-Green of North Texas, Davis Grain and Fertilizer, Farm Bureau, Loran Charolais, ADM Alliance Nutrition, Kerr Feed and Grain, Clay County 4-H, Muleshoe Ag Services, Bowie Tractor, The Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce, the Clay County Historical Society, Edward Jones, Clay County Emergency Management, Legend Bank, Little Wichita Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA-NRCS, and the Farm Services Agency.

Live music was provided by The Red River Band of Clay County.

The Texoma Ag Seminar is held each year at Pioneer Hall in Henrietta, and is sponsored by the Clay Beef Committee and Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Dorothy Kucharski (left) visits with Clay County producers about NRCS programs and services. Missy Hodgin (center) organized the program for the event.

NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Dorothy Kucharski visits with Clay County producers about NRCS programs and services.

Clay County Agrilife Extension agent Missy Hodgin (center) organized the program for the event, which included donated door prizes for attendees.

Jaxon Stubblefield takes in the food and information at the FSA booth.

Clay County cowboy Jaxon Stubblefield takes in the food and information at the FSA booth at the Texoma Ag Seminar's grazing hour.