NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Texas AgriForestry Small Farmers and Ranchers Association (TASFR) summit got underway Friday morning, giving farmers and ranchers a resource for information as well as networking opportunities.
Friday was the second day of the group’s visit to Nacogdoches. The group spent the previous day visiting area farms to emphasize who the group is, what they represent, and how they can help East Texas farmers and ranchers.
“It’s beneficial because anyone who is interested in farming, I think there’s a wealth of information here,” said Theresa Hackney, guest at this year’s summit. “They tell you about all the resources available, they tell you about financing, they tell you about how they could come out and assess your property and give you recommendations.”
“The need for information in our community is so critical,” said Richard Hackney. “Our hats go off to the organizers.”
Farmers and ranchers weren’t the only guests who felt they had something to learn. Shandra Adams, an employee of Prairie View A&M University, said the workshop was a wealth of information, even for the more learned attendees.
Adams added that aside from the resources TASFR offered to land owners and ranchers, the summit also brought up topics many in the industry may not consider important.
“They also had a lot of vendors out here, and come to find out one of the biggest importance was the census,” Adams explained. “We need to get involved in the census and let people know the more we have, the more we can receive.”
After the summit wrapped up Friday afternoon, organizers took a moment for attendees to network with one another.
Natural disaster assistance
Bad weather has certainly been on Texas agriculturalists radar this year says Dr. Gerard D'Souza the dean of agriculture at Prairie View A&M University.
"One of the greatest challenges we face is climate change."
In this region, tornados, flooding and hurricanes led to damage.
No wonder Nacogdoches County tree farmer Jimmy Scott became concerned about his investment during recent storms.
"Lightening hit the top of some of them. I noticed that. And that's about it."
A sigh of relief, but a neighbor has worry over seedlings.
"That flood leaned them all over. Good many of them," descried Scott.
Fortunately, the Natural Resources Conservation Services, thru the United States Department of Agriculture, provides assistance where needed.
"I deal with NRCS quite a bit," said Scott with an approving smile.
The agency had a large presence at the Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers Summit (TAFR) held this week in Nacogdoches.
Ronald Harris, the director of outreach for the NRCS traveled from Washington D.C. to let landowners know about available assistance.
"If you lose practices, fences, we can go in to help put those practices back in pre-storm conditions,” explained Harris. “If you manage land, own land, there is probably some program you can benefit from."
Just yesterday the State Disaster Relief Declaration for much of Southeast Texas was extended for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Congressman Bryan Babbin's staff, serves the area where government assistance provides long term agriculture recovery aid.
"They invest a lot of money and resources into their crops, maybe the trees they have in the forests,” said Babbin’s director of community relations, Rachel Iglesias. “And it takes several years to, in some cases, even 10 or 15, 30 years before they can reap the benefit." Researchers with Prairie View A&M say Hurricane Harvey led to Texas participating in a national network called EDEN.
"The idea is to help communities that have been affected by flood and hurricanes and help them recover,” explained D’Souza. “But we are also trying to develop ways in which to produce food under climate extremes."
The Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers Assocation’s mission is to provide research, resources and networking opportunities. This year the provided information may help those affected by natural disaster to stay in agriculture.