Home Columnist HORACE MCQUEEN: Joys Of Farming – Sometimes!

HORACE MCQUEEN: Joys Of Farming – Sometimes!


Between fertilizer, herbicides, fence building (and repairs), plus machinery costs and lots more, it’s a wonder farmers are still around. Most of the folks who grow our food are in love with what they do day in and day out.  I recall the old story of the farmer who won a million dollar lottery prize. Asked what he planned to do with his new found wealth, he said “I will keep on farming till the money runs out.”

A call from an East Texas cattle producer questioned whether he has to be a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Assn. to get help locating a lost cow. TSCRA provides brand inspectors at our livestock markets and also has a number of Special Rangers who investigate theft from livestock producers. Last time I checked, TSCRA had about 15,000 members in Texas. These dues paying members are not the only source of TSCRA income. Every time a producer sells cattle, a fee of 85-cents a head is deducted from the check and sent to TSCRA for their brand inspection program. To make a long story short, our producers are paying for the help available from TSCRA and membership is not required.

The rains lately have sure been spotty. It may have rained three inches in one tiny area and not a sprinkle two miles away. On Monday, we got a young flood for over an hour at one farm—and felt comfortable that another place three miles away would be wet. Fertilizer had been spread on the pastures on that farm and sure needed moisture now. Not to be! That place got nary a drop. Maybe next time!

Here is a suggestion for our Texas livestock auction market owners. Simply add some vital information to the sales invoices. There are all sorts of charges (deducts) on the invoices including insurance, sales commission, the “voluntary”  beef checkoff of $1 per head and the compulsory checkoff of another $1 a head. That extra $1 a head deduction raises over $10,000,000 a year that goes to the Texas Beef Board in Austin. Not one dime of this money can be spent to identify or promote U.S. or Texas grown beef. So, sale barn owners, it’s time to include on sales invoices the telephone number, mailing address and e-mail address of the Texas Beef Board. The producer can use this information to request a form that the seller fills out and returns to the Beef Board. That little exercise gives the producer back a check for the “voluntary” deduct of $1 a head.

Texas barbecue is the hot item on many menus—and adding more every day. From Texas to New York City the barbecue craze is one for the books. One Texas newspaper, the “Houston Chronicle” even has a reporter specializing in telling the story of barbecue across our state—and beyond. And the meat science experts at Texas A & M are doing their best to give the public more quality brisket sellers. Called “Camp Brisket”, the two- day experience at A & M is now five years old. Getting into the class is not easy. Set up on a lottery system, sixty “want to be barbecue experts” are selected and ante up $500 each for the crash course in making a quality eating experience from the bovine brisket. For barbecue enthusiasts, Camp Brisket is a once in a lifetime event. More information at bbq.tamu.edu  Have a good week!