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Texas Farmer Recognized for Top-Notch Conservation Efforts

By Dee Ann Littlefield, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA-NRCS

A Texas farmer recently received national recognition for his conservation efforts at the 2015 Outreach and Ag Education Expo hosted by the National Organization of Professional Black Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees (NOPBNRCSE) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rickie Roddy is presented 3rd place national NOPBNRCE Small Farmer award by Mr.  Lloyd Wright.
Rickie (center), his wife Tiffhanie and his brothers all help on their farm and ranch near Riesling.
Ricky and Tiffanie Roddy started their farming operation with just 13 acres and have grown it 300.
NRCS DC Clete Venderberg has been helping Roddy on his farm for the last 3 years.

McClennan County resident Rickie Roddy was named the third place winner for the Lloyd Wright Small Farmer of the Year award.

“This is such a blessing and an honor,” Rickie said of the award. “I hope that my wife and I can inspire other farmers and ranchers to achieve their goals on their land and let them know the valuable help that is available from NRCS.”

Rickie grew up on two acres his parents owned near Waco, Texas, but that didn’t stop him from raising cattle. He bought his first cow when he was 13 years old. By the time he was 19, he had grown his herd to 13 head of cattle. He would talk people into letting him graze empty lots and lease small tracts of land for his cows.

He and his wife Tiffhanie married and bought 13 acres of land, slowly adding neighboring acreage as it became available. Today, he owns more than 300 acres where he runs his herd of 40 cows. He leases an additional 780 acres of land where he raises cattle, Sudan and coastal hay, corn, milo and oats.

He has been working with NRCS and McLennan County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) since the 1991. He has developed a conservation plan on his owned and leased land to serve as a roadmap toward accomplishing his goals.

“Working with Mr. Roddy the past year and half and my past eight years of experience with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, I couldn’t find a better fit for this award,” says Clete Vanderberg, NRCS District Conservationist in Waco. “He definitely lives by the old saying, ‘If you take care of your land and livestock, your land and livestock are going to take care of you.’ He does that 110 percent and this honor could not go to a better person.”

With the funding assistance from NRCS through the USDA Strike Force Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, Rickie has been able to fulfill many of his conservation plans for his land including brush control, Bermuda grass sprigging, new fences for pasture rotation and cover crops for soil health improvement.

He has participated in local educational programs through the SWCD, NRCS and Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers workshops and tours. He regularly invites other ranchers, as well as young people, to his ranch to help share his knowledge of conservation practices and how they can help others be better farmers and ranchers.

The ranch is a family affair – Rickie takes great pride in the fact his wife and three kids have worked alongside him nearly every step of the way.

“What I have enjoyed most is the learning experience it’s all been for me,” Tiffhanie says. “Being a city girl I get a chance to experience the farm life that I didn’t have as a child and it’s educational and joyful to see that our children have this opportunity to be on the farm.”

The Lloyd Wright Small Farmer Award is named after the organization’s founder, Virginia native and 37-year USDA Employee Lloyd Wright. The award is given to producers who share a passion for improving awareness and development in the field of agriculture.