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Master Gardener intern training begins Jan. 10 in Lubbock

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Christina Reid, 806-775-1740, christina.reid@ag.tamu.edu

LUBBOCK – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Lubbock County is hosting the 2019 Lubbock County Master Gardener Intern Class training beginning Jan. 10.

The Texas Master Gardener program is designed to train volunteers to educate and engage Lubbock County residents in the implementation of research-based horticultural and environmental practices to create sustainable gardens, landscapes and communities in coordination with AgriLife Extension.

Applications are required and will be available at the Lubbock County Master Gardener Intern Class Information Session from 2-3 p.m. Jan. 10 at the AgriLife Extension office for Lubbock County, 916 Main, Suite 401, Lubbock.

The 10-week training will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. every Thursday beginning Feb. 7 at the Municipal Garden and Arts Center, 4215 University Ave.

The fee is $200, and the class size will be limited to 40 people, said Christina Reid, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent in Lubbock.

“If you love gardening, want to learn more and would like to share knowledge with others, the Lubbock County Master Gardener Association offers the opportunity to learn and to serve the community,” Reid said.

For more information, contact Reid at 806-775-1740 or christina.reid@ag.tamu.edu.

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Wild pig control program in Atlanta Jan. 10

ATLANTA – A wild pig management program will be held Jan. 10 at the Cass County Expo Center, U.S. Highway N. in Atlanta.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program begins at 6 p.m. and features Ken Hale, owner of Boatcycle, Henderson. He will discuss methods of trapping wild pigs, including new technologies that have shown to be more effective than conventional traps in capturing entire sounders. 

This large rooted-up area in an East Texas pasture is one example of costly damages done by wild pigs. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Dr. Billy Higginbotham )

Cost is $10 per person and free for Cass County Cattlemen’s Association members. 

One Texas Department of Agriculture laws and regulations continuing education unit will be available for pesticide applicator license holders.

“Wild pigs are a plague in Texas, and reproducing rapidly with few natural predators, which makes their management key to reducing their impact to landowners in East Texas,” said Jessica Rymel, AgriLife Extension agent, Cass County.  

Call the AgriLife Extension office in Cass County at 903-756-5391 for more information.

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Clean Water Act Application to Groundwater: Keeping Score

A major issue with regard to the scope of the Clean Water Act is popping up in courtrooms across the United States.  Are point source discharges into groundwater, that eventually reach a “water of the United States”, within the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction?  This issue is growing and has been decided differently by courts across the country.  The legal question is teed up and could potentially reach the United States Supreme Court next year.  Let’s take a look at this issue and the results from various cases.

Excavation of coal ash pond via Duke Energy

Background

The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 402 prohibits the “discharge of pollutants” from “point sources” into “navigable waters” without a federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Each of these terms is further defined under the Clean Water Act.  “Discharge” involves the “addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source.”  A “pollutant” is broadly defined and includes any type of industrial, municipal, or agricultural waste.  Examples could include soil, rock, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, or manure.  A “point source” is defined as “any discernible, confined, and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged.” Finally, “navigable waters” are defined as being “waters of the United States (WOTUS),” the proper definition of which there have been years of debate and litigation.  But for decades, groundwater has not been at issue under the CWA.

In February 2018, after a number of legal disputes raised the question about the application of the CWA to situations where groundwater served as a conduit to the pollutant reaching a water of the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency sought public comment on this issue.  The EPA sought public input on whether a permit should be required only in situations where the pollutants discharged into the groundwater reach a jurisdictional surface water to which the groundwater has that hydrologic connection. [Read Request for Comment here].

Legal Question

In understanding the legal issue in these cases, it is helpful to understand what is not at issue.

First, the existence of “pollutants” is not at issue in these cases.

Second, whether groundwater is a “water of the United States” such that every discharge of a point source pollutant would require a NPDES permit has not been a central issue in most of these cases.  One trial court in Hawaii did rule that groundwater was jurisdictional, and that issue may come up again, but most courts are looking not at groundwater as a WOTUS, but instead as a conduit or a pathway to a WOTUS.  Every federal appellate-level court to address this issue has found that groundwater, alone, is not a water of the United States.  The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals made this clear back in 2001, stating that the scope of the CWA “is not so expansive as to include groundwater within the class of waters protected by the Clean Water Act.”  Further, courts on both sides of the issue have rejected the argument that the groundwater, itself, is a point source.  Both the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the Fourth Circuit rejected this reasoning in cases this year.

Instead, the courts are wrestling with the definition of “point source” and primarily are looking to whether or not there is some requirement of directness requirement when pollutants are released into groundwater and, eventually, make way into navigable waters.  Thus, the question at issue for the courts is as follows:  If a pollutant is discharged into groundwater, and that groundwater is hydrologically connected to a water of the United States such that the pollutant eventually reaches the WOTUS, does the CWA apply to that discharge?  In other words, does the CWA apply to indirect discharges of pollutants that travel through groundwater to jurisdictional waters?

Cases Finding CWA Applicable to Indirect Discharges into Groundwater

 Hawai’i Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui, 886 F.3d 737 (9th Cir. 2018) 

The County of Maui has wastewater facility wells disposing sewage (effluent) into groundwater and eventually into the Pacific Ocean.  All parties agree that once the effluent is injected into the groundwater, some of it eventually reaches the Pacific Ocean.  This conclusion was confirmed by various studies, including one conducted in 2013 using tracer dye to determine when and where the effluent disposed of in the wells took to reach the Pacific.

The Hawai’i Wildlife Fund filed suit and the trial court found that the County of Maui violated the Clean Water Act by discharging effluent into groundwater and into the Ocean without the required NPDES permit.  The trial court also held that groundwater was a Water of the United States and a permit was required.  The County appealed to the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit upheld the trial court decision.  The Court easily found that the effluent was a pollutant and that the wells constitute a “point source” discharge.  The court “assumed without deciding” that groundwater was neither a point source discharge, nor a Water of the United States. The critical issue in the case became whether the Clean Water Act applies only where the pollutant is discharged directly into a Water of the United States, or whether it applies where a pollutant is discharged into groundwater and then indirectly makes its way into a Water of the United States.

The Court held that pollutants from a point source ended up in a Water of the United States, a permit was required, regardless of the fact that it travels through groundwater as a channel to reach the jurisdictional water.  Thus, because the County (1) discharged pollutants from a point source, (2) the pollutants are “fairly traceable from the point source to a navigable water such that the discharge is the functional equivalent of a discharge into the navigable water,” and (3) the pollutant levels reaching the navigable water are more than de minimus, the Clean Water Act does apply and a NPDES permit was required.

The County has appealed this case to the US Supreme Court.

Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., 887 F.3d 637 (4th Cir. 2018)

When a pipeline rupture caused gasoline to seep into nearby groundwater, conservation groups brought suit alleging that the gasoline traveled an additional 1,000 feet into “navigable waters” and, thus, the pipeline company violated the CWA by making an unpermitted discharge.  Kinder Morgan moved to dismiss the case and the trial court did just that, finding that the CWA did not apply to such indirect discharges of pollutants into groundwater.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit reversed, finding that the CWA did not limit discharges only to those made “directly” into a navigable water.  “We hold…that to qualify as a discharge of a pollutant under the CWA, that discharge need not be channeled by a point source until it reaches navigable waters.”  The court then limited such discharges to which the CWA would apply to those that were “sufficiently connected to navigable waters.”  This requires a fact-based analysis of hydrological connectivity, looking at the time, distance, geology, flow, and scope of the discharge.  Here, the allegations of pollutants seeping into groundwater only 1,000 feet from the ruptured pipeline, plus evidence that it was gasoline from the pipeline found in the navigable water was sufficient evidence to state a claim and allow the case to proceed.

Kinder Morgan has sought review of this decision by the US Supreme Court.

Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric & Power Co., 903 F.3d 403 (4th Cir. 2018)

This case involves a coal-fired power plant.  Plaintiffs alleged that the coal ash ponds violated the CWA because, without a permit, they polluted the groundwater near the plant and, eventually, the pollutants reached the Elizabeth River and Deep Creek.  The trial court, following a bench trial, sided with the plaintiffs, finding that the CWA did cover discharges into groundwater that had a “direct hydrological connection” to navigable waters such that the pollutant would reach these jurisdictional waters.  The defendants appealed.

Applying their decision in Upstate Forever, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s ruling that indirect discharges of pollutants that eventually reach navigable waters may be governed by the Clean Water Act where a direct hydrological connection between the groundwater and navigable water can be shown.  Because the trial court found a hydrological connection, and the defendants did not challenge that on appeal, the court affirmed this portion of the decision.

However, the court went on to address the issue of whether each settling pond constituted a “point source.”  The Fourth Circuit found that the ponds were not point sources.  “We conclude that while arsenic from the coal ash stored on defendants site was found to have reached navigable waters–having been leached from the coal ash by rain water and groundwater and ultimately carried by groundwater into navigable waters–that simple causal link does not fulfill the CWA’s requirement that the discharge be from a point source.”  Thus, the Fourth Circuit found the CWA inapplicable to this case and reversed the trial court’s verdict.

Thus, this case essentially held that an indirect discharge from a point source into groundwater could require a NPDES permit, that was not the situation in this case because the coal ash ponds were not a point source as required by the CWA.

Recent Cases Finding CWA Inapplicable to Indirect Discharges into Groundwater

Kentucky Waterways All. v. Kentucky Utilities Co. (6th Circuit)

A coal-fired power plant generates coal combustion residuals of fly ash and bottom ash as a result of its coal-burning processes.  Historically, the residuals were disposed of by transport through a sluice system to settling ponds.  The Sierra Club claims that the plant’s settling ponds are contaminating groundwater in the area and that the contaminated groundwater was discharging via spring into Herrington Lake.  They filed a citizen suit against the plant based, in part, on an alleged violation of the Clean Water Act, claiming that the plant is discharging pollutants, which have seeped from the ponds into the groundwater which emerges from springs and discharges into Herrington Lake, a Water of the United States, without a permit.

The plant filed a Motion to Dismiss the Clean Water Act claims because the Sierra Club did not allege that “pollutants are conveyed directly” from the ponds to the navigable waters and that the pollution is non-point source, which is not governed by the Clean Water Act.  The plaintiffs responded that their allegation that the groundwater is hydrologically connected to the Water of the United States was sufficient to state a claim.

The US Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Kentucky sided with the plaint and dismissed the case.  In analyzing the issue, the Court noted that the Plaintiffs do not argue the groundwater itself is a WOTUS and the Court said that was “with good reason” as the vast majority of courts to consider this issue have rejected that argument.  However, courts are divided over whether hydrologically connected groundwater qualifies as a point source under the Clean Water Act.  This court found that it does not and stated that “adopting this theory would be inconsistent with the text and structure of the Clean Water Act.”

Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 905 F.3d 436 (6th Cir. 2018)

Yet again, this case involves a coal-fired power plant in Tennessee allegedly discharges pollutants from coal ash ponds into groundwater, and eventually into the Cumberland River.  After a trial, the court found that the defendant did violate the CWA because, without a required permit, the coal ash ponds discharged pollutants through groundwater that is hydrologically connected to the Cumberland River.

The Sixth Circuit reversed, stating that it “found no support for this theory in either the text or history of the CWA and related environmental laws.”  Thus, “for a point source to discharge into navigable waters, it must dump directly into those navigable waters.”  Thus, the trial court decision was reversed with regard to liability under the Clean Water Act.

Prairie Rivers Network v. Dynegy Midwest Generation, LLC, No. 18-CV-2148 (C. D. Ill. Nov. 14, 2018)

This trial level case is the most recent decision addressing this issue. Here, another coal-fired power plant’s coal ash ponds were at issue.  Plaintiffs claim that groundwater monitoring indicates that pollutants including boron and sulfate have been seeping from the pond into the groundwater and, eventually, into the Middle Fork River.  The plaintiffs allege that the plant is discharging pollutants without the required NPDES permit.

The trial court sided with the defendants.  Relying on Village of Oconomowoc Lake v. Dayton, a case addressing this issue decided by the 7th Circuit in 1994, the trial court in Prairie River held that discharges of pollutants into groundwater were not covered by the Clean Water Act.  Specifically, the Oconomowoc court stated “neither the Clean Water Act nor the EPA’s definition asserts authority over groundwater, just because these may be hydrologically connected with surface waters.”  Based on this binding precedent, the trial court in Prairie Rivers held that “discharged from artificial ponds into groundwater are not government by the CWA, even if there is an alleged hydrological connection between the groundwater and surface waters qualifying as ‘navigable waters’ of the United States.”

Cape Fear River Watch, Inc. v. Duke Energy Progress, Inc., 25 F.Supp.3d 798 (E.D.N.C. 2014) 

I’ll give you one guess as to the factual situation in this case…coal ash ponds, yet again.  Plaintiffs allege pollutants seeped from the ponds into groundwater and eventually reached nearby Sutton Lake.  The trial court found that “Congress did not intend for the CWA to extend federal regulatory authority over groundwater, regardless of whether that groundwater is eventually or somehow ‘hydrologically connected’ to navigable surface waters.”  Thus, the claims related to discharges through groundwater were dismissed.

What Happens Next?

Both the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund and the Upstate Forever cases have sought review before the United States Supreme Court.  While the court only accepts review of a small number of cases each term, the fact that a circuit split exists between federal courts on an issue does make review at least somewhat more likely.  In the Hawai’i case, a number of environmental groups has asked the US Supreme Court not to accept the petition for review, arguing that the lower court decision comports with the intent of the CWA.  Just last week, the Court requested that the United States Solicitor General weigh in on this issue.  [Read article here.]

As for the agricultural industry, the potential impacts of this type of ruling could be significant.  How would this legal theory apply to lagoons on hog or dairy farms, for example?  So far, as noted above, many of the cases involved coal ash ponds, which are very unique sites.  None of the cases have involved production agriculture.    However, any potential ruling from the US Supreme Court could, depending on the language and scope, have major impacts on agriculture.  At the very least, in the absence of settled law on this question, these cases could potentially open up a new litigation strategy for anti-agriculture groups looking for potential ways to get into the courthouse.

Stay tuned!

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Lashmet’s ‘Ag Law in the Field’ podcast earns ABA top 100 web resources ranking

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, 806-677-5600, tdowell@tamu.edu

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet is recognized for her Ag Law in the Field podcast. (Courtesy photo)

AMARILLO – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural law specialist Tiffany Dowell Lashmet’s “Ag Law in the Field” has been named one of the best law podcasts by the American Bar Association magazine.

“You have earned a spot in the ABA Journal’s Web 100, our annual list of the best legal blogs, podcasts, Twitter accounts and web tools,” said Lee Rawles, ABA Journal assistant managing editor, in announcing Lashmet’s selection.

Only 20 podcasts were chosen to be among the Web 100. The list of recognized podcasts can be found at https://tinyurl.com/100blogspodcasts.

With regard to the Ag Law in the Field podcast, the journal stated: “Attorneys who are practicing in rural areas praise this podcast from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service blogger Tiffany Lashmet.”
“I like how practical and down-to-earth the host is,” said Houston family lawyer Erin Callahan, president of the professional development organization Ms. JD, in the journal.

Lashmet, based in Amarillo with statewide duties, began Ag Law in the Field in 2017, and each episode features an interview with an ag lawyer about a different topic.

“Podcasts are a new and innovative way to get information to people,” Lashmet said. “Folks can listen online or on their smartphones whenever they want.”

The full list of Web 100 nominees will appear in the magazine’s online version of the December issue, as well as newcomers to the list and Blawg 100 Hall of Fame honorees will appear in the print version.

Lashmet is no stranger to recognition by the American Bar Association. Her “Texas Agriculture Law Blog” was named one of the top 100 legal blogs in the nation in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the ABA Journal, which is the professional publication of the American Bar Association.

Lashmet created her blog shortly after she was hired with AgriLife Extension as an agricultural law specialist in July 2013. When first recognized as being in the top 100 legal blogs, her blog was receiving an average of 7,000 views a month. It now receives over 60,000 monthly views on average.

Lashmet said her blog and podcast are just another way to reach people with current agricultural law news. She currently has over 4,700 subscribers to her blog, including other attorneys, producers, realtors and ag business people. Her podcast receives over 2,500 downloads a month.

“This year, the most popular podcasts have been ones covering landlocked property, groundwater law, and oil and gas law,” Lashmet said.

Her podcast can be found at https://aglaw.libsyn.com/, and the blog can be found at https://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/. Lashmet said readers can subscribe to each by following the instructions on its website.

Lashmet, who grew up on a family ranch in New Mexico, was an associate attorney with the law firm Peifer, Hanson and Mullins in Albuquerque. She earned her law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law and bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from Oklahoma State University.
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Childress to host Red River Crops Conference Jan. 23-24

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contacts: Dr. Emi Kimura, 940-552-9941 ext. 233, emi.kimura@ag.tamu.edu

CHILDRESS – The sixth annual Red River Crops Conference: Planning for Success, offering crop production information designed for Southwest Oklahoma and the Texas Rolling Plains, is set for Jan. 23-24 in the Childress Event Center, 1100 NW 7th St. in Childress.

The goal of the conference is to provide agricultural producers with relevant management information applicable to this production area that will create and enhance the profitability of their farm and ranch enterprises, said Dr. Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist, Vernon.

AgriLife Extension and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service join together to offer the event annually, alternating between the two states.

The event will begin with registration from 7:30-8:15 a.m. and conclude at 3:45 p.m. each day. The cost is $25 per person for one or both days. Lunch will be served each day and preregistration by Jan. 20 is encouraged for meal count.

The registration form can be found at https://tinyurl.com/RRcropsconference. Make checks payable to the Red River Crops Conference and mail to: Jackson County OSU Extension, 2801 N. Main, Suite A, Altus, OK 73521.

Continuing education units will be offered, including six from the Texas Department of Agriculture – one integrated pest management and two general Jan. 23, and three general Jan. 24. Certified Crop Advisers and Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry units are pending.

Jan. 23 will highlight cotton, while Jan. 24 will be dedicated to in-season and summer crops. Topics and speakers will include:

– National Cotton Council, Dr. Jody Campiche, National Cotton Council director of economics and policy analysis, Memphis, Tennessee.

– Cotton Market, Dr. John Robinson, AgriLife Extension cotton marketing economist, College Station.

– Cotton Fertility, Dr. Brian Arnall, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension precision nutrient management specialist, Stillwater, Oklahoma.

– Herbicide and Weed Control Update, Dr. Peter Dotray, AgriLife Extension weed specialist, Lubbock.

– Cotton Variety Performance Updates, Kimura and Dr. Seth Byrd, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension cotton specialist, Stillwater, Oklahoma.

– Expert Panel Question and Answer Session.

– Wheat and Canola Production Management, Heath Sanders, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension West District area agronomist, Duncan, Oklahoma.

– Weather and Climate Update and Outlook, Todd Lindley, science and operations officer in Norman, Oklahoma, and Jody James, warning and coordination meteorologist in Lubbock, both with the National Weather Service.

– Wheat Herbicide Updates, Dr. Misha Manuchehri, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension weed specialist in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Gary Strickland, Oklahoma Cooperative Jackson and Greer county agent and dryland cropping systems specialist, Altus, Oklahoma.

– Guar and Sesame Production Management and End Source Placement and Use, Dr. Calvin Trostle, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Lubbock.

– Farm Bill Update, Dr. Joe Outlaw, Regents Fellow and AgriLife Extension economist, College Station.

– Markets – Livestock and Grains, Dr. Jason Johnson, AgriLife Extension economist, Stephenville.

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Shan named to Christine Richardson Professorship in Agriculture

Media Contact: Laura Muntean, 979-847-9211, laura.muntean@ag.tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Libo Shan, professor and director of the Norman E. Borlaug Center, Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology, has been appointed the Texas A&M University Christine Richardson Professorship in Agriculture.

Dr. Libo Shan, professor and director of the Norman E. Borlaug Center, Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology named Texas A&M University Christine Richardson Professorship in Agriculture

As holder of the professorship, Shan will be responsible for continuing her research in life sciences per the original criteria of the professorship. Her research focuses on understanding how host-microbe interactions shape the evolution of microbial pathogenicity and plant immunity in both model and economically important plants.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Shan and all of the hard work that goes into creating research opportunities of this magnitude,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

“She is truly deserving of this honor, which is exemplified through her research and being ranked in the top 5 percent of researchers within her discipline. This is quite an achievement and is distinctive among Texas A&M faculty in agriculture and life sciences.”

The Richardson Professorship was established for the purpose of supporting a professor who has original and far-reaching ideas in life sciences and who can make the greatest impact in strengthening future life sciences programs. Endowed professorships such as this acknowledge a faculty member’s consistently outstanding performance and ability, according to nomination criteria.

Shan was named the interim director for the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology for Texas A&M in 2017 and director in 2018. Based on Academic Analytics comparing 682 faculty from 31 departments of plant pathology, she ranks in the 97th percentile in her particular area of interest.

“Based on her outstanding scholarship and impact, Dr. Shan is most deserving of this recognition,” wrote Dr. Clare A. Gill, interim executive associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and associate dean for research, in her nomination for the professorship.

Shan’s experience in research has spanned more than two decades and covered topics such as pathogen virulence effectors and host immune responses. It has also led to research programs that cover everything from the basics to advances in agricultural applications.

“To be recognized as the Christine Richardson Professor in Agriculture is a true honor,” Shan said. “This distinction is derived from the hard work of many creative and phenomenal students and postdocs from my lab over the years. As a plant molecular biologist, I am thrilled to have wonderful opportunities to work with many excellent colleagues and talented students on the A&M campus and around the world.”

Shan has built an active learning group, consisting of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working in a highly interactive learning environment that fosters critical thinking and independent problem-solving.

“Together we have the privilege to explore the genetic, biochemical and cellular mystery of plant resilience to stresses and responses to environmental cues,” she said. “The fundamental understanding of plant resilience and stress responses enables us to develop molecular toolsets and leverage our capacity on translational research to improve crop agricultural performance.”

“We will continuously lead the lane in research excellence by examples and make contributions in reducing the poverty and feeding the world via biotechnology in agriculture.”

 

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Texas 4-Hers learn leadership, citizenship during trip to D.C.

Contact: Jana Barrett, 979-458-0910, jcbarrett@ag.tamu.edu

Dr. Montza Williams, 903-834-6191, montza.williams@ag.tamu.edu

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty-four Texas 4-H members recently earned the opportunity to participate in the Texas 4-H Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., touring the capitol while learning about leadership, citizenship and community service.

“These young people were afforded this opportunity as recognition for producing a first-place 4-H record book on the state level in Texas,” said Jana Barrett, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 4-H specialist, College Station. “4-H members document their project activities, leadership and service, then submit the record book for evaluation at the county level. From there, they go to district- and state-level competitions.”

Barrett said the Texas 4-H Youth Development program is administered by AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System.

“Record books are entered in one of 29 different 4-H project areas, including clothing and textiles, beef, rabbit, food and nutrition, science, engineering and technology,” she explained. “From the county evaluation, one book for each category advances to district competition and then on to state, where approximately 300 books are evaluated.”

Conference participants from throughout Texas met at Love Field in Dallas for an orientation and then flew as a group to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Participants and their respective counties were: Kellie Tondre, Bexar; Grady McAlister, Castro; Kennedy Foster, Cherokee; Caitlynn Teel, Collin; Presley Wirebaugh, Comal; Katelyn McCormick, Cooke; Zane Wanjura, Colorado; Jack Detten, Deaf Smith; Erik Dietrich, Denton; Jay-P John, Dimmit; Faith Clark, Galveston; Kathleen Knesek, Gonzales; Emily Robinson and Adaline Utley, Hockley; Ray Edwards, Llano; Brantly Hoover, Midland; Kynzie Hardegree, Mitchell; Hale Ingram, Montgomery; Jayna Grove and Reagan Hoelscher, Nueces; William Whitaker, Travis; Hannah Chumchal, Wharton; Riley Elliott, Wilbarger; and Macie McCollum, Wise.

4-H participants at Ford’s Theater. 4-H members attending the  Texas 4-H Leadership Conference toured this and several other U.S. historical sites in D.C. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

While in the nation’s capital, the 4-H youth toured area landmarks, including L’Enfant Plaza, Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon, Ford’s Theatre historic site, Peterson House, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Supreme Court Building, the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, National Archives, National Mall, Smithsonian Museums, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Kennedy Center.

Additional activities included watching a performance of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and dining at some of Washington’s best-known restaurants.

“The kids were amazed to see these historical sites, look at historical documents and learn more about the history of the U.S.,” said Dr. Montza Williams, AgriLife Extension 4-H youth development specialist, Overton, who was one of four adult chaperones accompanying the 4-H members.

“They were especially impressed with seeing the Capitol Building, Supreme Court Building and National Archives, as they got to see those places where the laws and policies affecting them as citizens are created,” Williams said. “They also got to learn about those leaders who have served and continue to serve as role models for leadership and good citizenship.”

Barrett said achieving a state-level first place record book is “quite an accomplishment, and the conference not only recognizes that accomplishment but also serves to challenge the youth to continue their leadership and citizenship experiences.”

She said the experience helped participants gain a greater appreciation of history.

“They were glad for the opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the nation, to see how the federal government works and to learn about career opportunities in Washington, D.C.,” she said.

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Master Marketer workshop in Lubbock rapidly filling

Award-winning program to be offered Jan. 22-March 7

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Jackie Smith, 806-746-6101, j-smith34@tamu.edu

LUBBOCK – A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Master Marketer program is scheduled January through March at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services Auditorium, 3810 4th St. in Lubbock.

Master Marketer is a national, award-winning, risk-management educational program where participants learn how to develop marketing plans, evaluate marketing alternatives, manage production and price risk, and execute a risk management and marketing plan.

A free leveling workshop on the basics of futures and options markets will be held on Jan. 22 for anyone who doesn’t think they are ready for intermediate to advanced level training. The actual program and other sessions will be Jan. 23-24, Feb. 6-7, Feb. 20-21 and March 6-7.

The final date to register is Jan. 20, but Dr. Jackie Smith, program coordinator and AgriLife Extension economist in Lubbock, said interest is high, and the limited seating will be filled quickly.

The registration fee for the program is $350, which includes noon meals and educational materials. For detailed program information and to register, go online to https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/MasterMarketer.

“Only 60 participants can be accepted, and we already have 40 signed up, so don’t wait to register,” Smith said.

The 64-hour curriculum is offered as four, two-day sessions held every two weeks. It is the most intensive marketing/risk management training provided by Extension anywhere in the U.S., Smith said.

The following is a schedule and topics:

Session I, Jan. 23-24: Review of Market Basics – budgets, break-evens, seasonality and the importance of a marketing plan, Working with a Lender, and Policy.

Session II, Feb. 6-7: Weather, Livestock Fundamentals, Crop and Livestock Products, and Crop Insurance Decision Aids.

Session III, Feb. 20-21: Technical Analysis, Cotton and Grain Marketing Issues and Strategies, and Tying It All Together.

Session IV, Feb. 27-28: Cotton and Grain Fundamentals, Trading Exercise and Legal Issues.

Program sponsors include AgriLife Extension, Texas Corn Producers Board, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board, Texas Wheat Producers Board, Cotton State Support Committee, Risk Management Agency/USDA and Capital Farm Credit.

For more information, contact Welch at 979-845-8011 or jmwelch@tamu.edu; or Smith at 806-746-6101 or Jackie.smith@ag.tamu.edu.

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Neely new president of Texas Plant Protection Association

Media contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

BRYAN – Dr. Clark Neely, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service small grain specialist in College Station, has been announced as the new president of the Texas Plant Protection Association at the annual conference held recently in Bryan.

(Left) Dr. Kranthi Mandadi, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco, has served as Texas Plant Protection Association president for the past year. Mandadi passed the president’s gavel to Dr. Clark Neely, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service small grains specialist in College Station, who became the new incoming association president at the 30th annual conference in Bryan. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

Dr. Sandy Pierson, department head for plant pathology and microbiology at Texas A&M University in College Station, received the Academic Award at the Texas Plant Protection Association Conference in Bryan. Pictured is past president Kranthi Mandadi, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist at Weslaco, and Ray Smith, association board chairman. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

Ken Smith, FMC Corp. Texas representative, received the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award at the Texas Plant Protection Association Conference in Bryan. Also pictured is Ray Smith, board chairman. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

Neely became the new association president after Dr. Kranthi Mandadi, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist at Weslaco, who served in the presiding role this past year.

Awards were also given at the conference in the following categories:

  • Industry Award:
    Jimmy Schulz, SureGrow consultant, Wharton.
  • Consultant Award:
    Peter Bruno, independent consultant, Burr.
  • Academic Award:
    Dr. Sandy Pierson, department head for plant pathology and microbiology, Texas A&M University in College Station.
  • Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award:
    Ken Smith, FMC Corp., Texas representative.

 

  • Pest Identification Contest:
    Dr. Webb Wallace, Harlingen, first place.
    Travis Janek, second place.
    Dale Mott, College Station, third place.
     
  • Poster Award Winners:
    Ph.D. student category:
    James Griffin, Texas A&M department of soil and crop sciences, first place.
    Gregory Wilson, Texas A&M department of entomology, second place.
    Timothy Wang, Texas A&M department of biological and agricultural engineering, third place.

    Master’s student category:
    Ryan Gilreath, Texas A&M department of entomology, first place.
    Subin Neupane, Texas A&M department of entomology, second place.
    Bojana Pilipovic, Texas A&M department of soil and crop sciences, third place.

For more about the association, visit http://texasplantprotection.com/ .

 

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AgriLife economist: 2019 to offer marketing opportunities for wheat producers

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Mark Welch, 979-845-8011, jmwelch@tamu.edu

AMARILLO – Texas wheat producers may have an opportunity to see higher prices and higher yields in 2019, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service grain marketing economist.

Dr. Mark Welch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist-grain marketing, spoke at the Texas Wheat Symposium. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Dr. Mark Welch, College Station, who spoke at the recent Texas Wheat Producers Symposium, said producers need to be ready to lock in a rate that works for their operation.

Some basic factors emerging from the 2018 crop year are going to set the price trajectory and levels for 2019 to a large degree, Welch said, although there are many macroeconomic conditions, trade policies and issues, that will also influence the final prices.

“When it comes to the fundamental factors driving prices on wheat, we have a very strong demand base, in that the consumption of wheat continues to grow around the world,” he said. “And, we had a smaller crop in 2018, so production relative to the consumption patterns got tighter.”

The global carryover supply of wheat relative to how much is being used got tighter, which typically is price supportive, Welch said.

“That’s telling wheat producers all around the world we need more acres and we need more yield, because we have to keep up with consumption,” he said.

Welch said U.S. farmers are expected to plant more wheat, particularly in the Southern Plains from Texas to Kansas, where there has been good moisture and much better planting conditions for wheat than in the last several years.

The question becomes: What’s the rest of the world going to do, because the U.S. only grows about 8 percent of the wheat in the world?

“What are the farmers in the former Soviet Union and Europe, our export competitors, and Australia and Argentina, what are they going to do?” Welch said. “We’ve seen global wheat prices higher in the last several years. So, the signals and incentives are there that they need to plant more wheat too. Their yield prospects and their export potential, as it unfolds over the year, will be very important.”

Production going up tends to push prices down, Welch said, but strong consumption and less wheat coming in is price positive and should offset the increased production.

The next factor that needs to be looked at is what is going on in other agriculture markets that affects wheat prices, Welch said. There’s a strong correlation between the price of corn and the price of wheat, even though they don’t directly compete in a lot of markets, they tend to move together.

“If we were to see a situation of strongly higher or lower corn prices, I think that would have a strong influence on our wheat, particularly at harvest in 2019,” he said.

The good news for a Texas wheat producer is the corn price typically has its seasonal high in the months of April, May and into June, and falls off very strongly in July, Welch said. So as harvest approaches, wheat producers have a much better handle on what their production will be and if they see a rally in the corn market, the pricing opportunities may be profitable given what will hopefully be a higher production level.

“So, you get your yield above average and get a decent price, that’s not a bad picture for wheat,” he said. “I think that’s a pretty good outlook for us. It’s the best outlook we’ve had in several years when it comes to the wheat market.”

Welch said this outlook will keep wheat as a viable enterprise, not only in the Southern Plains where wheat “just fits,” but in the rest of the country as well.

But he also warns producers that they have to be prepared to do their part.

“I can point where the fundamentals are leading us, but in the end, I don’t know where the prices are going to be,” he said. “And, I certainly don’t know what a profitable price is for any given producer. But that’s certainly what every producer needs to know: what does work for you? Whether it is wheat or cotton or corn or cattle, there is a price per unit that works for you.

“Every single day with the future’s market access we have, you can ask yourself that question: Is the price being offered today good enough? And, when we see those good enough prices, what are we doing about it?”

Welch said a producer may not want to lock the entire crop in at one time, because there is vulnerability and volatility for higher prices, but, “can we do something to take some of the bottom side risk off? We’ve got our crop insurance in place, so you have that safety net, and then if you can raise that with some marketing tools, you have just raised the floor a little bit.”

February and March, and then again in May, tend to see some pricing opportunities in the market for wheat, he said.

“Somebody has to have their eye on the ball,” Welch said. “Who in your operation is watching for those opportunities? Somebody needs to be, because they can be fleeting, and we don’t want to let those opportunities get away.”

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