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TFB prepares leaders for public office

By Jessica Domel
Field Editor

Today, a visit to Texas Farm Bureau. Tomorrow, school board, commissioners court or the state Capitol. The sky is the limit when it comes to how far TFB members can go with the help of the organization's Campaign School.

The school is held once every two years to help TFB members better prepare for a life in public office.

This year's course was recently held on the TFB campus in Waco. Sixteen members interested in serving their communities learned how to run a successful campaign, gather volunteers, develop effective strategy, when to use certain tools and when to reserve their resources.

"First and foremost, we provide education to potential candidates on how to run an effective campaign—the nuts and bolts of the campaign," Ken Hodges, TFB director of Political Programs and Activities, said. "We teach them about evaluating themselves as a candidate as well as the electorate to make sure they're an electable candidate."

The school also includes mock interviews with the media to give potential candidates a sense of what they'll face in the limelight.

"We talk to them about having the winning attitude, which means being willing to do the hard work it takes to win an election," Hodges said. "We speak with them about gathering adequate financing to be able to do the things they need in a campaign ."

Hodges and other TFB staff also discuss how to select the right issues for each campaign and how to reach out and talk to voters.
The hands-on course encourages TFB members and leaders to realistically pursue their political dreams.

"I'm going to retire in about a year, and I have a long-time goal of being a commissioner in my home county," Allen Kaminski of Austin County said. "I saw the opportunity to attend this school, and I figured it would help me with the campaign."

Through the course, Kaminski notes that he's also learned about where to file to be on a ballot, what paperwork needs to be completed, campaign slogans, budgeting and more.

"I was in the dark. Now I see the light," Kaminski said.

For those with their eye on a political seat, Hodges encourages service on county Farm Bureau boards to get the ball rolling.

"The county Farm Bureau board is a very good place to learn about the governing process and the issues of the day. It's a great way to gain experience that is valuable in seeking public office," Hodges said. "It's a benefit to those candidates to have served on their county board."

Former graduates of the TFB Campaign School include State Reps. Kyle Kacal, DeWayne Burns, Andrew Murr, Drew Darby and Connie Scott. Five county judges have also attended the course as have seven county commissioners and others involved in the political process.


Trees across Texas

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Texas A&M Forest Service, 4-H members across Texas will plant trees in almost every county of the state this weekend.

The activity is held in conjunction with the final day of National 4-H Week. This year’s theme is “4-H Grows Here.”

Each year during National 4-H Week, Texas 4-H groups conduct one day of service simultaneously to make a difference in their communities.

Of the 254 counties, 198 will benefit from the tree planting project.

A full list of 4-H service projects can be found here: http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/oneday/#list.

Dr. Judd: Work with veterinarian to treat obese horses

Excessive body weight, or obesity, is a common problem in many animals today.

Dr. Bob Judd, host of Texas Vet News on the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network, reports it may be the most serious problem in pets in this country today.

In horses, obesity can lead to laminitis and founder.

"Laminitis and founder are serious conditions of the horses’ feet and can lead to severe pain, lameness and, eventually, death,” Dr. Judd said.

Some horses are overweight because they eat too much feed.

Others are obese because they have a condition called Equine Metabolic Syndrome and gain weight while eating a normal diet.

"The most important thing in these horses is to get them to lose weight. This is difficult to do without veterinary supervision of the weight loss plan,” Dr. Judd said.

Studies show that animals lose weight and are healthier when on a plan set by a veterinarian.

Dr. Judd’s full report can be found here: http://bit.ly/1Lp15Wn.

'Waters of the U.S.' rule stayed

The state’s largest farm organization is very pleased by a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to issue a nationwide stay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule.

“There have been multiple challenges to this rule, including two put forth by Texas Farm Bureau,” Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) President Russell Boening said. “We’re pleased the court has decided to stay the rule while these suits are sorted out. We hope it brings some clarity in an otherwise confusing situation.”

The court’s decision puts the EPA’s and Corps of Engineers’ enforcement of the rule on hold until the legal system can determine who has jurisdiction over the lawsuits filed against WOTUS in District and Appellate courts. 

When the rule was first implemented, a North Dakota judge approved an injunction preventing enforcement of the rule. He further ruled the injunction only applied to the states that were party to the suit.

Texas was not one of those states.

“WOTUS has serious flaws. It’s a power grab by EPA that puts the livelihoods of Texas farmers in jeopardy by forcing them to obtain permits to do otherwise legal farm activity in areas that only sometimes hold water,” Boening said.

It’s not clear how long the court’s temporary stay will remain in effect. The final rule became effective Aug. 28, expanding the scope of the federal government’s jurisdiction over waters under the Clean Water Act.


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