Friday morning saw the group continue its NAST with an early morning visit to the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB). Located on a 70-acre campus outside of Waco, the Texas Farm Bureau advocates for the agricultural needs of all Texas farmers at the local, state and national level. With over 500,000 member families, the TFB prides itself as being the “Voice of Agriculture”.
The pride and professionalism of the organization was clear from the moment the AALP class entered the campus. Mr. Si Cook, Chief Executive Officer, and his colleagues provided an overview of the organization and its role in analyzing the problems of farm and ranch families and in formulating actions to address these challenges. Discussion on trade, tariffs, and advocacy were centre stage during our visit.
Afterwards, we enjoyed the (HOT!!) weather of Texas with tours of cotton, grain sorghum and corn trails conducted by local extension experts.
Mr. Shane McLellan, the local county extension officer, provided a fascinating overview of the disease, pest and weather challenges facing local farmers. The impact of the current drought was clearly evident by the state of the corn fields (IMAGE 4), some of which were expecting to yield 60 bu/acre or less. That said, the spirit and optimism of the farmers we met was unshakeable. Truly inspiring.
Following a fantastic lunch at the farm shop of Mr. Greg Westerfield (tip: wear pants with an elastic waistband when you come to Texas; the food is delicious and the plates are huge!), the AALP class said an emotional goodbye to Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz. Dr. Jim had to depart to prepare for the Texas Advanced Lifetime Leadership program which he will lead next week. Dr. Jim was a wealth of information and epitome of the perfect host. Thanks Jim and see you in Poland (wink, wink)!!!
The day ended with a trip to the historic Old Stockyards of Fort Worth for an incredible dinner at Los Vaqueros followed by country music and line dancing. To protect the innocent, no pictures were taken :).