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Congressman Mike Conaway Meets With NRCS and Constituents at JMR Ranch

Congressman Mike Conaway Meets With NRCS and Constituents at JMR Ranch

Story by Randy Henry

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) joined approximately 50 local sponsors, partners, stakeholders, landowners and producers with U.S. Representative K. Michael (Mike) Conaway from the 11th Congressional District of Texas for a ranch tour at JMR Ranch in Coleman, Texas.

The meeting focused on agricultural issues within the district, and the tour showed environmental benefits using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and technical assistance provided by NRCS on the ranch.

Congressman Conaway spoke about natural resource concerns within the 11th District of Texas, which is a newly drawn district encompassing 36 counties. He is also the first congressman to serve in it, and referenced conservation issues in Coleman and Brown counties.

�I have great confidence that we all can work together to keep agriculture and conservation where it needs to be in Texas and in this district,� Congressman Conaway said.

The ranch tour was hosted by the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD), Central Colorado Soil and Water Conservation District, along with Mike and Jan Rogers, owners of JMR Ranch.

�Many of the conservation measures we�ve accomplished in 10 years on the ranch were made possible by financial and technical assistance from NRCS and the soil and water conservation districts,� Mike Rogers said.

JMR Ranch is a 1900-acre ranch that used successful management practices through EQIP for pasture planning, brush management, fencing, range seeding, and a pipeline.

Also, the ranch produces Black Angus cattle with cropland, rangeland, and pastureland improvements on the property.

�We developed a conservation plan to help carry out the objectives for the ranch,� Rogers said. �I requested some technical assistance from NRCS for brush work, reseeding, wildlife management, and fencing prior to working in the EQIP program.�

Moreover, one of the topics Rex Isom, executive director for the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), addressed was how TSSWCB provides support for landowners and producers targeting conservation programs within the district and throughout the state of Texas.

�What surfaces in this district are brush control and water enhancements programs, and cost share that gives ranchers an opportunity to keep water quality a vital part on their land,� Isom said. �We are working closely with ranchers and members of the board to clearly define the need for these programs, so our legislators are informed and better able to address water shortages in Texas.�

�With the cost-share programs coming to your county and district nearly half of that funding has gone for brush control,� said Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas. �Those funds are invested directly into the community, so now it�s not just a conservation program - it�s a rural development program.�

The constituents in the audience had an opportunity to tour the ranch, and to get first-hand information from legislative and conservation leaders that represent their district.

�Agriculture is not one of those areas we can afford to take cuts on, so we must turn this thing around and make it work for our district,� Congressman Conaway said.

In addition, the ever-present topic targeting the possible huge increase in population that Texas will experience over the next several years came up.

�The Texas population is predicted to double and that will put a huge strain on natural resources,� Gohmert said.

�It comes down to having productive land for the food and fiber we need to maintain life, and to protect the habitat and resources that people want using good conservation planning and management practices,� he added.

Plus, Congressman Conaway added that for Texas to be competitive and as urban growth increases, we must not lose sight of the possible depletion of our natural resources.

�In order to be competitive in world markets, we cannot deplete valuable resources such as water and be dependent on outside resources,� Conaway said.

Besides members from the ATSWCD, TSSWCB and NRCS, other attendees for the ranch tour included constituents from the Texas Farm Bureau, Coleman County Commissioner�s Court, Coleman County Judge�s Office, and the Pecan Bayou SWCD.

Congressman Mike Conaway speaks

Angus on Tour

U.S. Representative Mike Conaway, 11th Congressional District of Texas, discusses agricultural issues for around 50 local sponsors, partners, stakeholders, landowners, and constituents from Coleman County during a ranch tour at the JMR Ranch in Coleman. The newly drawn congressional district encompasses 36 counties, and Congressman Conaway is the first to serve in the district.

These registered Black Angus cattle lined up when the ranch tour came around to view the successful brush control on JMR Ranch in Coleman, Texas. Mike and Jan Rogers, owners of JMR Ranch, used EQIP to help with brush management, fencing, pasture planning, range seeding, and a pipeline on the property.

EQIP Brush Management
Rogers EQIP Tour

After developing a conservation plan with NRCS, Mike and Jan Rogers, owners of the JMR Ranch in Coleman, Texas, were able to show the environmental benefits using brush control through EQIP as can be seen here. To the left of the center tree line is brush that was not under the EQIP program, and to the right the brush control that has been sprayed for better brush management practices.

Mike Rogers, left, owner of the JMR Ranch in Coleman, Texas, talks about how EQIP helped with the brush control problems on his ranch to a group that included Congressman Mike Conaway, right in tie, 11th Congressional District of Texas, and other constituents during a ranch tour. The event was sponsored by the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Central Colorado Soil and Water Conservation District.