NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Texas is famous for its huge ranches that cover thousands of acres, but it's the smaller operations that collectively sustain the state's agriculture industry.
The Texas Agri-Forestry Small Farmers and Ranchers is reaching out to those family farms, particularly ones owned by minorities.
Louis Duffield climbs aboard a big and expensive tractor on display at the organization's first Agriculture/Forestry Summit held in Nacogdoches. He feels good sitting up there, but he's unlikely to own one.
"I own and operate Stoney Brook Farm here in Nacogdoches," said Duffield.
It's a small acreage produce farm.
The TASFR board member is one of more than 3,000 African Americans, according to the Census of Agriculture, who collectively operate 2.4 million acres from the Red River to the Gulf.
Some of those owners are in Nacogdoches to learn what it takes to sustain their operation.
Igalious Mills, summit coordinator, says minorities, women and veterans need the information.
"They're not participating in USDA programs, so there's a disparity there that we're really trying to overcome. So, we're working with the agencies to try to get information out to the people," explained Mills.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a guest speaker, thinks it's a worthy message.
"It is a struggle, but just because your acreage is small, doesn't mean your potential is small. You can gross a lot of dollars on a very few acres depending on the operation," said Miller.
Profits may encourage heirs to hold onto the family farm. It's something TASFR President Roy Mills will be asking at the summit.
"How to release some of that land and how we can make it really productive in the way the land is tied up at this particular time," is Mill's task.
Right now, Duffield doesn't have the same concern. He believes his hard work influenced his kids to want to keep the family farm.
"It makes me feel great," Duffield said with a big smile on his face.
To learn more about the Texas Agri-Forestry Small Farmers and Ranchers go to their Facebook page.