By Horace McQueen

Cattle and timber are our big income generators. Beef cattle are the mainstay on thousands of farms. At one time local dairies supplied milk processors in Houston, Dallas and Sulfur Springs. Just ask some of our elders to recall when the trains stopped along the rail line to pick up milk in cans bound for Borden’s in Houston where Elsie and Elmer reigned supreme! But those days are behind us—only a few farmers now head to the milking parlor twice or three times daily. The biggest concentration of remaining dairies is in Hopkins and surrounding counties in Northeast Texas. Most milk in Texas comes from the Panhandle and South Plains counties and the Stephenville area. Many of those operators milk upwards of 5,000 cows plus—and keep the cows housed in big loafing sheds near the milking parlor. All feedstuffs—grains, hay and silage are raised on nearby farms and trucked to the dairies. What a change from years gone by!

A big worry for present day farmers and other business owners is the lack of qualified workers. The liberal loud-mouths keep repeating that jobs should go to local citizens. Sounds good, but most of our East Texas neighbors already have jobs and do well at them. Those not working generally have issues that local employers can’t deal with—drugs and alcohol the main ones. The majority of the unemployed have got so used to free or reduced cost housing, food stamps (and free food), cell phones, free medical and other amenities they have little reason to go to work. So they stay in their world of freebies and continue the circle of dependence on the taxpayers to support their lifestyles.

Cattle prices are still in the tank. Calf prices are ridiculously low compared to the price of beef at the grocery store. Cows being culled from the herd for age or poor performance are not bringing enough to justify $3 a pound hamburger. Now we have another controversy that our elected officials should work to solve. USDA says that all meat products imported to the U.S. can be labeled “product of the USA”. No justification for this action—just another way that the meat packing companies and importers can rip off customers with the fraudulent labels.

Smile of the day: “The location of your mailbox shows how far away from your house you can go in a robe before you start looking like a mental patient”! That’s –30—horace@valornet.com