• October 15, 2019

Banquet shares impact of agriculture - Odessa American: Local News

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Banquet shares impact of agriculture

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Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 4:50 pm

The Ector Leadership Advisory Board’s annual banquet brought together county employees to discuss how agricultural literacy impacts the state on multiple levels.

The Tuesday event featured State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, who said Texas is one of the top producing states in the country for a number of agricultural commodities, like cotton and cattle, but rapid urbanization is shifting the public’s awareness of agriculture’s vital role.

“We have to be very deliberate about preserving that in Texas as we continue to move forward especially as agriculture continues to play a bigger and bigger role in our economy while we’re also becoming a more and more urban state,” he said.

Landgraf said there are five generations of ranchers within his family and he has seen land management fall into the hands of fewer people over the decades.

“We have fewer landowners who have to be stewards of the land to make sure that we are properly conserving and cultivating these natural resources and livestock to be able to play that role that’s so important for the Texas economy,” he said. “The role that agricultural producers play in our state is as big as it’s ever been but there are just fewer and fewer of us doing that work.”

The state representative highlighted efforts made by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agents who identify local needs and develop resources through a statewide network of county offices.

AgriLife Extension develops programming that educates the public on a range of topics including ecosystem management, nutrition and animal science. The agency is also home to 4-H, one of the largest youth development programs in the state.

Landgraf said the programs put on by agents in Ector County and Midland County contribute to strengthening agricultural literacy in younger generations who may not have those lessons ingrained in their everyday lives.

Ector County and Midland County extension office programming is led jointly by four agents who cover agriculture and natural resources, 4-H, family and community health and horticulture.

Jeff Floyd, the agriculture and natural resources agent, said Midland had been understaffed for more than seven years prior to the two counties joining forces. Now with a full staff, the office foresees greater community engagement being an attainable goal.

Volunteer members of the Ector Leadership Advisory Board provide the vision and long-term planning for extension activities, serve as advocates for the county program, help interpret the program throughout the county and help develop resources to support extension programs in their counties, the Agrilife website states.

ELAB President Bob Steakley said 4-H will reap the most benefits with all agents in place, and community members can look forward to more consumer knowledge programs on topics like child passenger safety.

Odessa, TX

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