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Agriculture Business Award
January 30, 2013
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Agribusiness is big business in Brazos County, home to more than 375 agribusinesses that employ more than 8,000 local residents, or 22 percent of the total county workforce. These businesses play an important part in contributing to the $760 million economic impact of agribusiness each year.

by Allison Kendall

For the past five years on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, several hundred folk have gathered to give thanks specifically for the foods grown or produced here in the Brazos Valley by enjoying a sumptuous, locally sourced breakfast. Just like in the real agriculture industry, it’s the local farmers, ranchers and agriculture business representatives who are up at 4 a.m. to prepare a table of plenty for the rest of us: steak, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, biscuits, butter, jelly, milk and gallons of coffee – all foods that can trace their provenience back to our local breadbasket.

Agribusiness is big business in Brazos County, home to more than 375 agribusinesses that employ more than 8,000 local residents, or 22 percent of the total county workforce. These businesses play an important part in contributing to the $760 million economic impact of agribusiness each year.

by Allison Kendall

For the past five years on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, several hundred folk have gathered to give thanks specifically for the foods grown or produced here in the Brazos Valley by enjoying a sumptuous, locally sourced breakfast. Just like in the real agriculture industry, it’s the local farmers, ranchers and agriculture business representatives who are up at 4 a.m. to prepare a table of plenty for the rest of us: steak, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, biscuits, butter, jelly, milk and gallons of coffee – all foods that can trace their provenience back to our local breadbasket.

Hosted by the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce, an important part of the annual Ag Breakfast is the presentation of two awards – the Agriculture Business Award and the Agricultural impact Award – conferred on two local producers that have had significant impact on Brazos Valley agribusiness.

The Brazos County Farm Bureau, founded 62 years ago, received the Agricultural Business Award this past November as the board was recognized for its continued involvement in both the B/CS area and for being politically active in service of agricultural issues in Texas.

Mark McMath, Brazos County Farm Bureau past president and president at the time of receiving the award, shares why he believes the Bureau received the award: “I think it’s just recognition,” says McMath. “We’ve been involved in all of the community events that are ‘ag’ related. To me, it’s one of those achievement awards that isn’t given to someone who just showed up at the scene.” McMath, a 12-year member, was president of the Brazos County Farm Bureau for three consecutive years, as well as for other year, previously. The position was handed to current President Kevin Wagner in November.

Wagner says when most people think of a bureau, they instantly think insurance. However, he stresses that the Brazos County Farm Bureau is much more. “We are totally focused on agricultural education,” enthuses Wagner. “We are the voice of agriculture.”

The B/CS youth community is a major focus of the bureau where they support activities including the Brazos County Youth Livestock Show. However, their biggest contribution is the scholarship program. Usually, three college scholarships are awarded yearly to Brazos County Farm Bureau members who apply. Wagner says the Bureau welcome more interest from people to apply for scholarships. The Bureau also provides support for the pizza ranch, a big ag-day program for 4th graders throughout the county.

The support doesn’t stop at the youth community. The bureau supports several adult programs, such as the cattleman’s clinic and hay show, every year. “Beyond that,” explains Wagner, “we try to work closely and stay in close contact with our state representatives” to positively influence agricultural legislation. “Bill Flores has been a great representative and has done a lot for our area,” says Wagner.

In the future, new president Wagner would like to see the board work closely with Texas A&M University and its agricultural student organizations. According to Wagner, “that’s an area we see being a huge opportunity. We have got one of the biggest ag universities, and that’s an area we are really hoping we can increase.”

In addition to the student community, Wagner says they have also done a lot of work with local volunteer fire departments. “Last year [with the huge fires], we made donations to all the volunteer fire departments.” Even better, Wagner says, the Texas Farm Bureau matched the Brazos County Farm Bureau’s donation. Wagner says they are looking for ways to support the local volunteer fire departments even more in the coming years.

“I really think that it is the amount of support that we provide for the youth activities in the county; I think that’s just really caught the attention of folks,” says Wagner. “We are trying to reach out and be more involved in the county, all of this together has really motivated us and gotten some recognition, and we appreciate it very much.” Both the new and the former president agree that the scholarship program is one of the greatest things the bureau offers. Any member of Brazos County Farm Bureau can apply for, and has the chance to win, the scholarship.

For more information on the programs of the Brazos county Farm Bureau, visit texasfarmbureau.org/county/brazos/.