Southeastern Texas is entering the most blazing-hot part of its annual summer in early August, with temperatures around 95 degrees Fahrenheit expected by The Weather Channel for at least the next week or so. But on the farm and ranch land for sale in Texas, there's not much respite to be had as work goes on. That being said, while this particular heat wave will probably relax itself somewhat - figuratively speaking - the same can't necessarily be said of certain hot trends affecting the region's agricultural landscape.
"Awareness of agriculture's importance to Texas is growing even among big-city residents."
Let's take a gander at some of the short- and long-term trends present among Texas farmers and ranchers:
Greater understanding of agricultural value in Texas urban areas
This trend isn't specifically new, as it was noticed in October 2017 by Southwest Farm Press. But it is certainly worth mentioning because it has continued since then: According to the news provider, appreciation of agriculture's value is on the rise among Texans residing in the state's big cities, who may in the past have not fully understood its importance to the Texas economy, or might have taken it for granted. It of course behooves city dwellers to be aware of agriculture's vital nature, as it employs 14 percent of all Texans directly or indirectly.
This can be identified in the increased levels of farming and agricultural education among elementary and secondary school students. Greater participation on the part of educators in extension programs - such as Texas A&M's AgriLife - and farm-to-table initiatives also helps people of all ages in urban areas understand the joy of farming. In addition, this uptick in awareness means more people now understand the consequences national economic issues have on their daily lives, like the potential risks posed to Texas cotton and soybean crops by the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China, as reported on by The Texas Tribune.
Growing Texan interest in ethical game hunting
Hunting is one of the major reasons that people choose to buy land in Texas, as it's a significant aspect of the state's overall culture. But greater nationwide environmental consciousness hasn't been ignored by plenty of Texan hunters, and they're changing some of their practices as a result without abandoning the traditional tenets of hunting. Land magazine cited the nonprofit organization Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, which just started a Texas chapter in 2016, as one of the notable groups driving this movement.
On its website, the Texas BHA explains one of its primary advocacy causes is better access to hunting land for the average-income hunter, given that a significant portion of the land is either privately owned or protected by the law - both federal and state. It also focuses on promoting fair chase - hunting only free-ranging wild animals on open lands. The latest Texas BHA newsletter noted some of the chapter's recent successes, including lobbying efforts that opened up 8,200 acres of land for hunting and fishing by the general public in April 2018.
Ag commissioner shuts down fever tick spraying, citing danger to cattle
Sid Miller, the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, recently answered the call of ranchers who were seeing their cattle die due to a pesticide meant for killing fever ticks, and shut down more than a dozen spray operations. According to the Houston Chronicle, the substance responsible, known as Co-Ral, is regulated by the state's Department of Agriculture because of the hazards it poses if used in excessive quantities. In a July 30 statement to the public, Miller explained his decision.
"Ranchers had complained to me about their cattle dying from these spray boxes, so I went to South Texas to check it out," Miller told reporters. "From my personal observation, the insecticide was being used in violation of the label, so I shut them down. I also gave state and federal authorities lawful alternatives for applying this insecticide, but they refused to implement these alternatives."
All told, Miller forced 16 portable deer tick spraying boxes to cease and desist. The farm journal Drovers noted that certain cattle industry interest groups and other organizations were opposed to the commissioner's action, including the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Ranchers Association and the Texas Animal Health Commission. The latter cited the longstanding use of portable spray boxes as a method of controlling cattle fever ticks, which can be deadly to cows. However, Miller stood his ground, believing that the pesticide posed more immediate danger to cattle.