Skip

Southwest States Hold Resource Conservation & Development Training Con

Southwest States Hold Resource Conservation & Development Training Conference

Story by Beverly Moseley

More than 200 attendees from six states traveled recently to Fort Worth, Texas for the Southwest States Resource Conservation & Development Training conference.
Members from RC&D councils in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas were represented, along with employees from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

RC&D is an assistance program available through NRCS. This rural based program works at the local level to assist communities in areas such as development and land management and conservation.

Todd Staples, Texas� agriculture commissioner and Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas, spoke during the general session.

�For agriculture and rural communities to be relevant, we need to spread the word about what we do,� Staples said.

He shared with attendees that agriculture production impacts Texas� economy to the tune of $100 billion. Texas leads the nation in cattle, cotton, sheep, goat, mohair, horses and hay production.

�Agriculture in Texas continues to be a powerhouse of production,� he said

Eighty percent of Texas� land area is in agriculture production and an estimated 80 percent of the state�s population lives in urban areas. Staples stressed how important it was for agriculture as a whole that rural and urban populations communicate and interact effectively.

�It doesn�t need to be us versus them mentality,� Staples said.

He also spoke about the need in Texas� rural communities for rural broadband service or Internet access. Broadband service can expand opportunities such as access to global markets for Texas agriculture. RC&Ds across Texas can play a role at the local level in helping rural communities obtain this service.

�Investment in rural America is an important thing to do,� Staples said.

Gohmert told attendees that along with a measureable monetary value on some RC&D programs, there is also a human value that should be considered.
�It�s the human value of what you do that we have to communicate up the line,� he said.

Across Texas, RC&D efforts include a Salt Cedar control program which works to assist in eliminating the invasive non-native plant that negatively impacts riparian ecosystems.
�If RC&D wasn�t here - who would do that?,� Gohmert asked.

Councils have worked in partnership with agencies on the frontline of control and eradication efforts in the fight against the cattle fever tick. They also have provided assistance to ranchers in drought stricken areas of Texas, through a drought relief program.

�You always hear somebody ought to do something and that somebody is us,� he said.

Councils continue to be involved in the national People�s Garden initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009.

Gohmert shared with attendees the human value of the nationally recognized People�s Garden in Carthage, Texas.

He said this more than one acre community garden provides teaching opportunities such as how vegetables and plants are grown, cared for and harvested.

�What is Carthage worth?,� Gohmert asked.

More than 200 attendees from six states traveled recently to Fort Worth, Texas for the Southwest States Resource Conservation & Development Training conference. RC&D contingents from Missouri are pictured.

From left to right are Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Nancy Hendryx, secretary/treasurer for the Texas Association of Resource Conservation and Development and Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas. Staples and Gohmert spoke during the general session of the Southwest States Resource Conservation & Development Training conference.

Marva Beck, outgoing president for Texas State Association of RC&D Councils and Southwest States Association of RC&D Councils presents Tom Christensen, NRCS regional conservationist - Central Region, with a speaker�s gift. Anne Dubey, national director, USDA-NRCS Resource Conservation, Development and Outreach Division. Dubey and Christensen were guest speakers during the Southwest States Resource Conservation & Development Training conference.

A tradeshow was held in conjunction with the Southwest States Resource Conservation & Development Training conference.