Staples speaks ‘for the farmer in all of us’
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples visits with attendees of the Feb. 21 Lincoln Day Dinner. See wilsoncountynews.com for video.
‘And on the eighth day, God looked down
on his planned paradise and said, “I need
a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.’
-- Paul Harvey
FLORESVILLE -- The stage was set for the evening when the Wilson County Republicans aired the Dodge Ram commercial, “And God Made a Farmer,” to welcome participants in the Lincoln Day Dinner. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, as the guest speaker, gave his insight into not only the ag industry, but the future of the nation’s economy and problems along the Texas-Mexico border.
Texas is ranked as the No. 1 cattle-producing state in the nation, Staples said, adding that the agriculture industry contributes approximately $100 billion per year to the state’s economy. Agriculture is important to the economy of Wilson County, he said.
Due to the 2011 Texas drought, the state’s ag sector lost $8.3 billion in direct sales, Staples said.
“The state is in a perpetual drought today,” he said, with lake levels at only 66 percent of capacity. Staples emphasized the need for new water sources, including desalination. He also suggested the use of low-cost natural gas.
As ag commissioner, Staples said the state’s agriculture sector is forging ahead to find ways to adapt to drought conditions. He said Texas leads the way in development of new seed varieties that are drought-resistant, and uses technology for more-efficient irrigation systems.
“Water is good for economic development,” Staples said, and we cannot recruit new industries without water.
Texas is experiencing an influx of people moving into the state, estimated at 1,200 people per day in the last decade. This number is expected to increase to 1,600 per day within the next decade.
Texas’ population is currently 26 million and is anticipated to increase by 40 million to 50 million people in the next decade, Staples said. The need to ration and restrict water is important.
With the federal government’s budget crisis weighing heavily on people’s minds, Staples spoke briefly on the future of our economy.
The U.S. government needs to live within its means and recognize its “strength is its people,” Staples said. The economy will be successful when the free market system is recognized.
He cited a Gallup Poll, in which 27 percent of the respondents feel good about the future of the country.
Staples said he felt a deep sense of remorse about the last presidential election.
“A majority of the people in our country can vote for a policy and a program that undermines our strength and sovereignty as a country when we do not have a balanced budget,” Staples said. As people “look to the federal government for a solution,” he added, we have to look “to the private sector and individuals to invest in our economy to create jobs.”
He stressed that the legislature needs to reduce its spending. Using Illinois as an example, Staples said that state raised its corporate income tax from 4.8 percent to 7 percent and its personal tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. In turn, companies, including the Chicago Board of Trade Exchange, relocated to other states.
“We need to fight for what we believe in and stand up,” Staples said, “... policy reflects your priorities not politics ... good policies makes for good politics.”
Staples also addressed the violence along the Texas-Mexico border. See related article, page 1A.
The trading relationship with Mexico is important, Staples said. In 2010, agricultural exports from Texas to Mexico totaled nearly $1.4 billion.
Staples also stressed the importance of education and sending the right message to young people to be successful.
He recalled the Department of Labor-proposed youth labor
regulations suggested in 2011. The regulations would restrict young people’s ability to work on the family farm, as the next generation to continue the family tradition, and would prevent their experiencing firsthand what real farm and ranch life is all about.
Paul Harvey may have said it best in his speech to a National FFA Convention in 1978, now revived because of a Super Bowl XLVII ad:
“... God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer. ...
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’ So God made a farmer.”
‘So God Made a Farmer’
The Ram Truck commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLVII was the start of a promotion by Dodge Ram trucks which donates $1 for every view to the National FFA organization.
According to a Feb. 14 PR Newswire report, the goal of $1 million was reached in less than one week. “More than 18 million views as of Feb. 14 of the two-minute ‘Farmer’ video inspired by the stirring ‘So God Made a Farmer’ tribute delivered decades ago by legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and featuring all original photography.”
To view the video, see www.ramtrucks.com/keepplowing or www.youtube.com/ramtrucks.