NRCS and Texas GLCI Team Up at the 135th Annual TSCRA Convention
story by Randy Henry
It was a fun and informative weekend for the more than 2,200 ranchers and landowners attending the 135th Annual Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Convention held on March 30-April 1 at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) teaming up with Texas Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) for a very interactive booth among the 200 exhibitors at the two-day trade show.
At the 18th Annual School for Successful Ranching, Kent Ferguson, NRCS State Rangeland Management Specialist; Jeff Goodwin, NRCS State GLCI Coordinator; and Nathan Haile, NRCS Soil Scientist gave a powerful presentation about cover crops to over 250 attendees and set the pace for the weekend with landowners and ranchers.
"Working the NRCS booth and the school for successful ranching at the TSCRA convention helps us identify the primary needs of our customers," said Haile. "This year with the prior drought and increasing cost of inputs, many of the questions were targeted at the technical and economical needs for their operations."
During the opening day on Friday, the NRCS booth was busier than most of the exhibitors after the GLCI presentation about cover crops, so Kevin Derzapf, GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist in Weatherford and Matt Machacek, NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist in Corsicana, both had customers lined up asking about grazing issues. NRCS staff had the opportunity to introduce many of the landowners to the Web Soil Survey (WSS).
"The Web Soil Survey was good for booth visitors to see for the first time while addressing their questions about resource concerns from grazing to grasses," said Derzapf. "I actually had a 70-year-old man and his son in a conversation about rangeland management issues, and he asked if we had guys like us (grazing lands specialists) up in his area of Texas."
Besides the WSS, NRCS had information available about 2008 Farm Bill programs, careers in conservation, conservation planning, NRCS conservation programs and practices, and a video playing the entire convention on prescribed burns in Texas and Oklahoma.
During the convention, TSCRA leaders presented awards for TSCRA Prosecutor of the Year, which was given to Elmer Beckworth, District Attorney in Cherokee County, as well as the 2012 Outstanding Rangeland Steward presented to Gary and Sue Price of 77 Ranch in Navarro County, Texas. The Prices have a long history of working with the NRCS to implement conservation practices on their land. The 77 Ranch encompasses approximately 2,160 acres with native range or woodlands, and about 200 acres of cropland with 90 acres of non-native pasture.
Jeff Goodwin noted that the 77 Ranch is the exemplary model of rangeland management and restoration in the Blackland Prairie.
"The Prices have implemented a rangeland management program to optimize rangeland conditions at the ranch where reseeding has been a key practice on the land," said Goodwin. "Wildlife habitat management and water quality have also been areas that Gary and Sue Price have worked to sustainably manage."
In addition to the trade show and school of successful ranching classes, convention events included the TSCRA's Law Enforcement Silent Auction, special breakout sessions, a general session with a panel of cattle industry experts, and a business outlook from CattleFax. As for the much younger and future ranchers in Texas, the Kid's Korral was back by popular demand with scaled down ranching equipment for the kids to play with at the show.
For the much younger and future ranchers in Texas, the Kid's Korral was setup so playtime can be working with scaled down ranching equipment at the 135th Annual TSCRA Convention at the Fort Worth Convention Center held on March 30-April 1, 2012.
Standing in front of a part of TSCRA history, Kent Ferguson, NRCS State Rangeland Management Specialist (left), and Jeff Goodwin, NRCS State GLCI Coordinator (right), delivered a standing room only presentation for more than 250 attendees on cover crops at the 18th Annual School of Successful Ranching. Their opening presentation set the pace for an active weekend with hundreds of visitors coming to the NRCS and Texas GLCI booth inquiring about grazing issues and NRCS conservation programs.
Ranchers and landowners lined up to get a chance to talk with Kevin Derzapf, GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist in Weatherford (left), and Matt Machacek (center background), NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist in Corsicana, to discuss grazing issues and get a hands-on lesson with the Web Soil Survey.
With a video about prescribed burns in Texas and Oklahoma playing in the background, a rancher points out his operation to Kevin Derzapf, GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist in Weatherford, during a discussion utilizing the Web Soil Survey at the 135th Annual TSCRA Convention held in Fort Worth this year.