The Christmas season is upon us—and some folks are objecting to the religious overtones of the observance. Several schools have banned any displays that feature Santa Claus. Their objection is that the displays—on doors, windows, walls or on the outside of the schools—are “harmful”. Glencoe High School in Oregon informed parents and students that “ornaments, signs or other displays of a religious theme will not be permitted. You may still decorate your door or your office, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community. Refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus”. These so-called “leaders” in our educational institutions need to get a life and concentrate on teaching students reading, writing and arithmetic!

Agriculture is undergoing major changes. In the past 35 years, we have lost nearly half of our cattle producers, 90% of hog farmers and 80% of dairy farmers. In the name of “globalization”, the U.S. government has welcomed multi-national corporations to stamp out competitors. As of today, as few as four companies control over 50% of the market place for many foods. Their size and ruthless business plan lets the largest companies set prices at both ends of the food chain. Result is below market prices paid to farmers and above market prices for the retail consumer. These same corporations are on a roll to import more and more of our food supply from other countries. Witness the approval of China as a supplier of chicken to the U.S. market and the access to our beef market by South American nations. As of now, we have the safest, home grown food supply in the world—and we need to keep it that way.

Cattle raisers in Northeast Texas have a success story second to none. Eighteen years ago, a small group of cattlemen decided on a plan to get more for their calves and yearlings at sale time. They formed the Northeast Texas Beef Improvement organization—NETBIO for short. Today with over 700 members, NETBIO offers thousands of cattle six times a year at their pre-conditioned calf sales. All sales are held at the Sulphur Springs Livestock market. Owners of the sale barn—also NETBIO organizers–are David Fowler and Joe Don Pogue. The last sale on November 16 featured over 8,000 head of pre-conditioned cattle and they sold to buyers throughout the U.S. All cattle consigned come from farms and ranches owned by NETBIO members and must meet a rigid set of health standards, according to NETBIO director Brian Cummins. Brian is a retired county agent and cattleman near Canton. The past six sales tallied 35,846 head selling at an average price of $913. Dwyatt Bell, a retired East Texas banker, helped organize NETBIO and has been the Chief Operating Officer since its inception. Full information on the organization is available at WWW.sslivestockauctions.com Similar programs could be put together in other areas of East Texas with producers who want to make a difference and cooperative sale barn operators. That’s –30– Horace@valornet.com