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Daily Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Reeves County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas

Living Off the Land

Tuesday, September 23, 1997

Living Off The Land, Monthly supplement to the Pecos Enterprise, 324 S. Cedar St., Pecos TX 79772, Telephone: 915-445-5475, Fax: 915-445-4321, E-mail:, Compiled by Rick Smith, For advertising call Christina Bitolas.


29th Cotton USA Orientation Tour- Sept. 22- Oct. 3, Lubbock, Tx. - The U.S. cotton industry will showcase its world class fiber to textile manufactures from Asia, Latin America and Greater Europe. Call T. Cotton Nelson or Vaughn Jordan at 202-745-7805 for information.

45th Annual West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Conference - Sept. 24, Lubbock, Tx. - Environmental regulations, the federal food quality act and the roles of biotechnology and computers in today's food and fiber production will be featured. For more information call Joe Bryant at 806-746-6101.

5th Annual Farmer-Stockman Show - Oct. 7-9, Lubbock, Tx. - The largest outdoor working farm and ranch show in the southwestern United States, boasts 800 acres of showsite with 54 acres of stationary exhibits and 600 acres of crops for field demonstrations. Call 806-747-7134 for information.

Reeves County Fair - Oct. 10-11, Pecos, Tx., Reeves County Civic Center.

Longhorn Cattle Drive - Oct. 11-13, Presidio, Tx. - Big Bend Ranch State Park offers persons seeking a true tast of Texas's Western heritage an opportunity to take part in the ranch's fall longhorn cattle drive on Columbus Day weekend. Cost of the three-day cattle drive is $600. For more information contact David Alloway at 915-229-3416.

Cattle, crops show improvement
from estimates this time last year

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Texas feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 2.31 million head on Aug. 1, up 14 percent from a year ago. According to the monthly report released by the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service, the estimate was down 4 percent from the July 1 level. Producers placed 460 thousand head in commercial feedlots during July, up 12 percent from a year ago and up 7 percent from the June, 1997 total.

Texas commercial feeders marketed 540 thousand head during July, up 15 percent from a year ago. Monthly marketings were up 15 percent from the June, 1997 total.

On August 1 there were 1.85 million head of cattle and calves on feed in the Northern High Plains, 80 percent of the state's total. The number on feed across the area increased 15 percent from last year but was down 6 percent from last month.

July placements in the Northern Thins totaled 366 thousand head, up 5 percent from last month. Marketings increased 20 percent from last month, to 437 thousand head.

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughtermarket in the United States in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 8.79 million head on August 1, 1997. The inventory was 16 percent above August 1, 1996.

Placements in feedlots during July totaled 2.0 mlilion, 14 percent above 1996. During July, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 360,000; 600-699 pounds were 379,000; 700-799 pounds were 644,000; 800 pounds and greater were 612,000. Marketings of fed cattle during July totaled 2.11 million, 6 percent above 1996.

Feeders in the historical seven monthly states with feedlots having a capacity of 1,000 head or more reported 7.56 million head on feed August 1, up 19 percent from last year and up 2 percent from August 1, 1995.

July placements totaled 1.75 million head, 18 percept above last year and 25 percept above 1995. Marketings during July, at 1.83 million head, were up 9 percent from last year and t3 percent above 1995.

Record production of corn and peanuts is expected from the Sept. 1 production forecast of spring-planted crops released by the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service.

The 1997 Texas corn production is forecast at a record 243 million bushels, up 21 percent from last year and 12 percent above 1995. Based on Sept. 1 condition, statewide yield is expected to average a record 135 bushels per acre, 23 bushels more than in 1996, but unchanged from the Aug. 1 forecast. Harvested acreage is expected to be 1.8 million, the same as last year.

Texas peanut production is expected to be up 16 percent from last year, to 796.5 million pounds. Statewide yield, at a record 2,700 pounds per acre, is 100 pounds above last year, while harvested acreage is up 11 percent, to 295 thousand acres. Irrigated peanuts have made good progress across the state this year, but dryland peanuts suffered from some dryness during August.

Upland cotton crop is expected to total 5.4 million bales, up 400,000 from Aug. 1 and 24 percent above 1996. Harvested acreage is estimated at 5.3 million acres, 29 percent more than last year. "Except for some lateness, growing conditions have been generally good across the state," according to State Statistician Dennis Findley. The yield is expected to average 489 pounds per acre, compared with 509 pounds last year.

Sorghum production is forecast at 104.1 million hundredweight(cwt), 2 percent above last year but unchanged from last month. Harvested acreage is estimated at 3.15 mlilion acres, down 17 percent from last year when sorghum replaced some lost cotton. Yield, at 3,304 pounds per acre, is expected to be 616 pounds above last year.

Rice producers expect to harvest 14.8 million cwt. down 20 percent from 1996. Yield is forecast at 5,700 pounds per acre, 500 pounds less than a year ago.

The 1997 Texas soybean crop is forecast at 10.8 million bushels, up 54 percent from last year's production. Harvested acreage is expected to jump by 48 percent, and yield is expected to average 27.0 bushels per acre, compared with 26.0 last year.

Boll weevil making move into Trans-Pecos

Extension Agent-IPM Pecos, Reeves-Loving Co.

There is a new insect pest in our region that is making its presence known to local cotton growers. Nearly everyone has probably heard the name "boll weevil" before, but few people in the Trans-Pecos know much about it because it has been a stranger to these parts until only recently.

What is the boll weevil?

The boll weevil is a small (1/4"), light brown beetle with a long, downward-pointing "snout" that is typical of most weevils. There are many species of weevils, but this one is particular to cotton.

Both the adult beetles and their immature larval grubs are damaging to cotton. The adults feed by puncturing the flower buds ("squares") or young bolls with their long snout. The snout, which has their jaws at the tip, enables them to reach deep into the fruit to feed on the developing pollen or seeds. After mating, mature female boll weevils lay their eggs inside a feeding puncture in the square or boll and then seal the hole with a small "plug" to keep the fruit from drying out.

Females may lay around 100 eggs. The boll weevil larva is a small white, legless grub that feeds inside cotton squares and bolls. When the grub has completed development, it changes into a pupa and several days later emerges from the boll as an adult weevil.

Boll weevils go through several generations in a year and may go from egg to egg-laying adult in as few as 18 days in mid-summer. As the nights begin to cool in mid-late September, and as cotton crops begin to finish up, the weevil population begins to switch from a normal, reproductive mode into a winter diapause, or "winter sleep" mode. As they do so, they begin to search for good host fields that still have squares and young bolls to feed on and fatten up for the winter. This searching leads to long distance migrations that disperse them region-wide. Once they have fed for about two weeks and have built up their fat reserves, they search for places to pass the winter. These winter sleep sites are usually under duff end leaf litter, but if infested fields are close to urban areas, they may also include under roof shingles or any other place that will afford them protection from the cold.

After passing the winter, the spring rains and warming weather wakes them from their sleep and they hungrily search for cotton fields to feed in, thus beginning the whole cycle over again.

Boll weevils have been associated with cotton production for many years in the deep south, requiring up to 20 applications of insecticide per season for control of weevils alone (growers in our area typically apply 1-5 insecticide applications by comparison). Boll weevils are also a serious problem in the Panhandle and east of us.

As a result of their growing problems with boll weevils, growers there entered into an extensive program to eradicate (eliminate) them region wide with the help of the USDA and cotton grower organizationsa key to success with boll weevil eradication or suppression is area wide cooperation. Intensive trapping of adult boll weevils was carried out to identify infested fields and insecticide treatments were mandatory on all cotton acres where boll weevil trap captures were made. All growers were charged fees to cover costs of treatments. Widespread controversy and court cases in 1996 effectively closed down the program, which has left growers there on their own to fight the problem.

Our problems with boll weevils began in 1995, when a few traps in our area (Coyanosa) registered captures in late September following a northern cold front that passed through earlier that month. By the end of November, over 4,000 boll weevils had been captured and some grubs had been found. Scattered captures were also made throughout Pecos, Reeves, and Ward counties.

The USDA took notice of our local grower reports and funded a trapping program in the three counties to determine the distribution of boll weevils in the Trans Pecos. By placing traps in nearly every cotton field in the region and monitoring them every 1-2 weeks, early season captures in some areas indicated that boll weevils were probably established here, but numbers remained low until the fall and no economic damage was observed.

The USDA again funded the trapping program for 1997, and this season we have seen a dramatic increase in boll weevil captures in every location compared to 1996.

A boll weevil action meeting was held in Pecos Sept. 12, to discuss the seriousness of the problem and options for action. Growers unanimously agreed that something must be done.

Dr. Chris Sansone, Extension Entomologist from San Angelo discussed strategies to reduce the boll weevil diapause population this fall to help growers next year. A plan was agreed on to treat on or near designated dates those fields having squares or small bolls.

These types of treatments are termed fall diapause treatments because they target the boll weevils as they fatten up for winter diapause. Since boll weevils require about 10 days to two weeks of feeding to fatten up, several well-timed insecticide treatments applied at approximately 10-14 day intervals will significantly reduce the number of weevils successfully going into diapause and therefore reduce the numbers coming out in the spring.

As Dr. Sansone emphasized, "it is all a numbers gamewhich do you want, a million weevils going into diapause or a thousand?"

A key to success is applications put out as close to the treatment dates as possible so that survivors cannot "hopscotch" over to untreated fields to escape. Initiation of treatments will begin on or near Oct. 1, and second and third treatments on Oct. 11 and Oct. 22.

Applications of defoliants, which cause leaves and young fruit forms to fall off, may substitute for insecticide treatments on any of the above dates.

Because the Trans-Pecos is not involved in any formal weevil eradication or suppression program, any efforts by growers will be voluntary and cooperation may be difficult to obtain. Cotton growers are encouraged to talk to their cotton-producing neighbors to enlist their participation.

Since cost of insecticides and application costs affect the total costs to the growers, local aerial applicators have agreed to offer a reduction in price to put on these treatments if large acreages are committed within an area. Bulk purchases of chemicals are also being negotiated to reduce costs. Total cost to growers is expected to be $12-15 per acre for the 3 targeted applications.

If cotton growers have any questions about this treatment plan, contact me at 336-3163.

Children are at risk around agriculture

It is impossible to know the exact number of children who are seriously injured or killed on our nation's farms and ranches each year. Estimates range from 100 to 300 deaths and from 100,000 to 250,000 injuries each year. While we don't know the exact number of injury events, there are many things we do know about children, production agriculture, and injuries.

* From one-third to one-half of nonfatal childhood agricultural injuries occur to children who do not live on farms.

* The highest farm injury rate is among boys 14-17 years of age.

* Tractors are associated with the greatest number of deaths to children on farms.

* Nonfatal farm injuries are often associated with livestock, falls, small tools, building structures, and moving machinery parts.

In order for a farm to be a safe place for a child to live and/or visit, the farm must first be a safe environment for adults.

All standard safety measures and practices should be in place on any farm where children are present. Adults should keep in mind that they are responsible for maintaining the safety of any child or adolescent who may be present on the farm worksite.

When assessing when and where a child should be present on a farm worksite, the owner/operator and parent should consider the fact that farming is one of the most hazardous occupations in the U.S. and the worksite holds dangers that are comparable to construction workers and miners.

For every hazard present on a farm, there should be a barrier that protects children and other visitors from that hazard.

What can farmers and parents do to protect their children from danger?

First of all, it is helpful to know what types of injuries occur most frequently to children in the local region; that is, different types of injuries are associated with different types of production agriculture. Once adults are aware of the primary agents of injury, decisions should be made regarding the appropriateness of having children watching or participating in the work environment. These decisions should be made far in advance of any work requirements that may tempt the adult to have children observe or help with work.

Young children are subject to potential problems associated with exposure to dusts, vibration, noise, and other physical hazards in the worksite. Therefore, they should have limited exposure to the farm worksite. As children age and mature, their presence and participation in the worksite should be adapted to their physical and cognitive skills. There are several educational resources that will help farmers and parents determine if, and when, their child is ready to participate in farm work.

In addition to safety education, specific steps can be taken to minimize risk of agricultural disease and injuries to children:

1. Create barriers on farms to prevent children and other visitors from entering particularly hazardous areas.

2. Work with farming organizations at all levels to develop programs which could provide adequate child care for children of farm families and farm laborers.

3. Work with safety specialists and farming organizations to develop standards regarding age- and developmentally -appropriate guidelines for children's work in agriculture.

4. Prohibit adolescents from operating farm tractors and machinery before they have received formal training and safety certification. Never allow children to be riders on tractors.

5. Ensure that hired workers understand the risk of disease transmission or chemical exposures to children if they fail to practice cleaning procedures when going home from the worksite.

Farms and ranches are beginning to look more like factories and warehouses than the quiet farmsteads of days gone by. So, rather than letting the farm be a giant playground for kids, let's think of it as an educational, but potentially dangerous worksite that should include children in selected situations.

The National Safety Council encourages all farmers and ranchers to take the first step and put an emphasis on safety during National Farm Safety and Health week and throughout the year. It will take a team effort to prevent injuries to children on the farm and other farm and ranch injuries.

Farming among most dangerous occupations

AUSTIN, - In an effort to emphasize safety awareness and education for everyone involved in agriculture, Agriculture Commissioner Rick Perry announced that the week of Sept. 21 - 27 has been declared Farm Safety and Health Week in Texas.

This year's theme is "Safety and Health: the First Step Toward Sustainable Agriculture."

"It is important for everyone involved in agriculture to promote safety awareness and follow safe work practices," Perry said. "The health and safety of all our agricultural workers is vital to Texas."

Farming is considered among the most dangerous occupations in the United States. The Texas Department of Agriculture stresses safety year-round through its Farm and Ranch Safety Program. The program provides friendly tips and reminders for producers and their families.

Perry offered the following steps to promote safety and health:

1. Equip tractors with an approved rollover protective structure and wear seat belts;

2. Operate tractors and equipment without carrying passengers or extra riders;

3. Inspect your farm or ranch and equipment for any hazards and correct them;

4. When operating equipment, follow safe work procedures described in the operator's manual or safety publications; Wear personal protective equipment;

5. Attend farm safety, first aid and defensive driving courses.

TDA is involved in education with safety booths at fairs, livestock shows and trade exhibitions. In addition, the agency works extensively with the Texas Safety Association's agricultural committee on farm safety programs.

For information on TDA's Farm and Ranch Safety Program, contact Lola Lemmon, safety coordinator, at (512) 475-1611.

The National Safety Council reminds residents that this is National Farm Safety and Health Week. The theme for the week is "Safety and health: the First Step Toward Sustainable Agriculture." It is important that everyone involved in agriculture promote safety awareness and follow safe work practices. A Farm Safety and Health Week packet can be obtained from the National Safety Council for those interested in the future promotion or teaching of farm safety.

Call 1-800-621-7615, ext. 2087, to get a copy.

Kids and grain: A dangerous combination

Digging his son out of a grain wagon was one nightmare an Iowa farmer didn't think he'd ever repeat. He did, however, about a dozen years later when he rescued a neighbor's child who was buried in grain.

Luckily, the farmer worked quickly and both children survived. This story shows how easily such accidents can happen. The lesson is that while grain acts in predictable ways, children don't.

"Children are fascinated by grain and a wagon load of corn might look like a giant sandbox and not a life-threatening situation," says Charles Schwab, an Iowa State University Extension safety specialist. "A young child can be buried within seconds if the auger is running and the child falls or jumps into the wagon. Even when the auger is not on, gravity and any kind of movement pull the child deeper into the grain."

Schwab says many grain suffocations occur when the operator isn't aware that someone's in a wagon or bin and begins to unload it. Equipment noise makes it difficult to hear cries for help or notice when someone disappears from the area.

"The operator may not even be aware there's problem until a hat or shoe comes out in the grain," he adds. "By that time, the person is buried and probably is having trouble breathing or already has ingested grain.

In the Iowa incident, the farmer's son had been sitting on top of the wagon watching his mother unload it when he decided to slide down into the grain. In the later incident, the child crawled on the wagon and apparently fell into the slow-moving grain while the farmer had stepped away from the area for a few moments. Both times the farmer worked against time and the force of grain to keep the children alive until they could be rescued.

"Grain has a tremendous force that most people don't understand unless they've experienced it," Schwab says. "Parents may think they can pull a young child out of two or three feet of grain, but it's very difficult if not impossible."

Schwab says that to rescue a 53-pound child caught in knee-deep grain, an adult must be able to lift 71 poundsthe weight of the child plus the frictional force of the grain. The strength required to lift the same child out of shoulder-deep grain can be 240 pounds, more than most men can handle.

He adds that even if you could lift that much, the child would be injured. As a person gets caught deeper, grain exerts more force, sometimes as much as a small car.

Contrary to popular belief, Schwab says it requires just as much strength to pull someone out of stationary grain as it does flowing grain. The only difference is that a person is being buried deeper in grain that is moving.

He recommends these precautions, especially during harvest activities:

Never allow children to play in grain and keep them out of areas where grain is being handled.

Check inside the bin or wagon before turning on power to the auger.

Before entering a bin, always disconnect the power to an unloading auger or lock the unloading gate.

Always know where other people are in the work area, and never leave the area unattended while grain is being loaded or unloaded.

Make sure all family members and employees understand grain hazards.

Explain dangers to younger family members in terms they can relate to, such as comparing grain to quicksand, and remind them about family rules.

Model safe behavior yourself, such as never climbing into a grain wagon while it's being unloaded.

The National Safety Council encourages all farmers and ranchers to take the first step and put an emphasis on safety during National Farm Safety and Health week and throughout the year. It will take a team effort to prevent grain handling injuries to children and other farm and ranch injuries.

# # #

Prepared by: Dr. Charles V. Schwab, Extension Safety Specialist, Iowa State University, 206A Davidson Hall, Ames, IA 50011-3080. Tel. 515-294-6360. Fax: 515-294-9973. E-mail: National Safety Council Agricultural Division Member.

For more information on farm safety and health, please contact Terry L. Wilkinson, Ph.D., CSP, Manager, Agricultural Safety at the National Safety Council, Itasca, Ill., (800) 621-7615, Ext. 2087.

Sharing the road safely with farm vehicles

If you've driven on rural roads, you know the spine-tingling chill when you pop over a hill and come upon a slow-moving tractor. Only a split-second reaction can save you from a collision.

About 47 percent of all deaths from unintentional injuries are caused by motor vehicles. According to the National Safety Council, this represented 43,900 deaths in 1995. Motor vehicle collisions with farm vehicles contribute to the number of unintentional injuries each year. These vehicle collisions can be prevented. By understanding how they occur, motorists can take defensive driving steps to avoid becoming a statistic.

· One of the most common collisions happens when a motorist tries to pass a left-turning farm vehicle. A tractor that appears to be pulling to the right side of the road to let motorists pass instead, may be preparing to make a wide left turn. Check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or any place a farm vehicle might turn. Watch the farmer's hand and light signals carefully.

· Rear-end collisions with farm vehicles also are common because the large difference in speed. It can be difficult to judge traffic speeds from a distance, so slow down as soon as you see a tractor or slow moving vehicle emblem (an orange triangle outlined in red). Stay a safe distance behind farm vehicles.

· Another common type of collision happens as motorists pass farm equipment. This equipment may be extra-long, so be sure you can see the farm vehicle in your rearview mirror before you get back in your lane.

· Be patient. Even if you have to slow down to 20 miles an hour for a tractor for two miles, it takes only six minutes of your time, about the same as waiting for three stoplights.

Rural roads can be used safely by everyone. To help you enjoy your time on country roads or make your work commute safer practice these defensive driving tips.

A farm operator's most dangerous job

Moving billions of bushels of grain to storage and market could be a farm operator's most dangerous job all year, says an Iowa State University (ISU) Extension safety specialist.

"Hauling grain might not seem risky compared to working with augers or powerful machinery, but when you do it in traffic on state highways and county roads, farm operators are very vulnerable," says Charles Schwab, associate professor at ISU's Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. About 47 percent of all deaths from unintentional injuries are caused by motor vehicles. According to the National Safety Council, this represented 43,900 deaths in 1995. Motor vehicle collisions with farm vehicles contribute to the number of unintentional injuries each year. The three most common types of farm vehicle collisions are left-turn collisions that happen as motorists pass left-turning tractors; rear-end collisions, when motorist fail to slow down for slow-moving tractors; and collisions as other motorists try to pass extra-wide or long farm vehicles.

"This shows the importance of having good lights and signage on all farm equipment, especially wagons," Schwab says. He adds that motorists also may be unfamiliar with the outline of farm equipment, especially at dusk when operators are returning from fields. Unfamiliarity can cause a split-second delay in reaction that, in many cases, leads to a collision.

Schwab offers these defensive driving tips for rural roads this fall:

· When you travel at speeds less than 25 miles an hour, display a slow-moving vehicle emblem (an orange triangle outlined in red). Make sure it is mounted properly and is not faded.

· Be sure to signal your intentions before you turn. Use the turn signal on new tractors, or a hand signal for older tractors.

· Scout out your route before traveling it. Look for an alternate route with less traffic, or choose a different time for transporting equipment that is not during peak traffic.

· Check with your local sheriff or department of transportation for regulations about farm vehicles using public roads.

The National Safety Council encourages all farmers and ranchers to take the first step and put an emphasis on safety during National Farm Safety and Health Week and throughout the year. It will take a team effort to prevent injuries from roadway collisions with farm equipment and other farm and ranch injuries.

4-H searches for alumni

COLLEGE STATION, - Many role models for today's youth were once proud members of the Texas 4-H program. This list includes such individuals as former Dallas football player Chad Hennings, football legend Don Meredith, country singer George Strait and actress Sissy Spacek.

A "4-H Heritage Search" is on to locate as many former 4-H members and friends as possible to join The 4-H Friends and Alumni Association of Texas. The search will run through Dec. 31.

Dr. Bonnie McGee, assistant to the director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural Extension Service, said alumni have shown their consistent support for 4-H in many diverse ways over the years. The 4-H Friends and Alumni Association of Texas is being established to strengthen the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program and recognize alumni.

"Today's Texas 4-H remains the state's largest youth organization with more than 600,000 young people enrolled in the program," McGee said. "It will help 4-H to more concisely coordinate ways to let members know what is transpiring as new developments are made in the state. More importantly, development of the new organization will allow people to maintain support and enable members to help youths learn valuable life skills."

The 4-H Heritage Search will provide young people with the opportunity to assist county agents in locating former members and friends. The project will also allow youths the chance to collect 4-H historical information for their county.

A one-time payment of $500 is required for a lifetime membership in the organization. Charter memberships are available until Dec. 31 for $100. In subsequent years, a charter member pays an annual fee of $25.

Some additional membership types are also available, such as joint, $45; regular, $25; and collegiate, $15. A special category is designated for corporations/organizations as well.

For more information about The 4-H Friends and Alumni Association of Texas, contact your local county extension agent or the Texas 4-H Foundation at 409-845-1213.

Hunters safety course offered by
Reeves County Extension Office

A Hunters Safety Course will be given Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Texas-New Mexico Power Room, 1126 Stafford Blvd., in Pecos.

Preregistration for the class is Sept. 29 by calling the Reeves County Extension Office at 915-447-9041, or come by the office located at 700 Daggett-Suite E. A fee of $10.00 per person will be required, and you are asked to have the correct amount with you when you come Oct. 4.

The Reeves County Game Warden, Jim Allen, will be conducting the classes. Following are some of the criteria for taking the course:

- Anyone can take the Hunters Safety Course, but if you are under the age of 12, you will not get credit for the course, and will have to take it again when you reach age 12

- If you are age 12-16 and have passed the Hunters Safety Course, you can hunt without adult supervision

- If your birth date falls on or after Sept. 2, 1971, you are required to have taken and passed the Hunters Safety Course in order to hunt.

If you have questions, please contact Allen at 915-445-7487.

Permanent identification protects horse investment

CEA/AG Reeves-Loving Counties

Branding or marking horses in not mandatory under a new state law, but permanent identification of horses is a wise idea, according to Dr. Pete Gibbs, horse specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

The new law - which targets horse thieves - went into effect Sept. 1, 1997. A $5-per-head fee will be charged for each horse arriving at the slaughter plant. Of that fee, $2 will go through the Extension Service for educational programs and material development and $3 will be remitted to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) to pay for the group to inspect horses sold for slaughter.

Approximately 50,000 to 70,000 horses will be harvested for pet food and for meat exported for human consumption in 1997, according to the TSCRA.

Horse identification is not mandatory in Texas.

"We hope horse owners will realize that there are many methods available of permanently identifying horses," Gibbs said.

"We hope people will do a better job of getting photographs and written materials that describe the color, the markings, that sort of thing on their horses."

Any permanent identification of a horse needs to be first registered with the county clerk.

Gibbs said it is not easy to get a handle on the number of horses stolen each year in Texas because such records simply are not kept. "Some horse thefts, unfortunately, are never reported and added to the total count," Gibbs said.

Tracking of stolen horses can be difficult because of the frequency and locations whereby horses change hands. Most counties in Texas have private auction groups that conduct "trader sales" at least once a month. Therefore, horses may change hands several times before ending up at their final destination, whether that is a slaughter plant or private ownership.

For individual horse owners, permanent identification will, in itself, have a positive impact on decreasing horse theft, Gibbs said.

According to the TSCRA, theft is essentially impossible to prove unless identification is absolute. Gibbs said, "Possession holds a certain amount of power and people currently are under no obligation to prove they own a horse. Rather, somebody must be able to prove that a horse in a person's possession is stolen."

Some of the marks put on horses to identify them include hot branding, freeze branding with irons, stencils or kryo kinetics (an alpha angle code), acid branding, hoof branding and upper lip tattoos.

Natural physical marks that may be used to identify horses are signalment, or the horse's natural color and marking; chestnuts, or night eyes; trichoglyphs, or whorls or cowlicks.

Owners may also prove ownership with electronic implants in horses.

Labeling of imported foods and the dairy price crisis
are important to producers, consumers

WASHINGTON,D.C.-Labeling of imported foods and the dairy price crisis were two of the main issues addressed by Farmers Union members to the Clinton Administration and Congress during the organization's annual Washington fly-in Sept. 7-10.

Farmers Union members renewed their call for country-of-origin labeling of imported foods during the fly-in. Recent outbreaks of hepatitis from Mexican strawberries, cyclospora in Guatemalan raspberries, and the recent recall of ground beef by Hudson Foods due to an outbreak of E.coli have raised concerns among consumers regarding the countries where their food is produced. Canada, Australia, Japan and European nations require country-of-origin labeling for imported meat and produce. Other consumer products, such as automotive and clothing, have country-of-origin labeling.

"Quite frankly, the food I consume is much more important than the car I drive," said Texas Farmers Union President Wes Sims of Sweetwater during his visits with members of Congress. "Mandatory food labeling will allow me as a consumer to choose what I feed my grandchildren."

Several bills have been introduced in Congress which would require country-of-origin labeling on imported meats, fruits or vegetables.

Commenting on the meat labeling bill, Brian Chandler of Midland said, "It's ironic that we have in place a law disallowing state-inspected meat processing plants that meet or exceed federal meat inspection standards from shipping their meat across state lines, yet imported meat moves freely throughout the United States."

American dairy farmers experienced a 30 percent plunge in the Basic Formula Price they received between August, 1996 and last June, despite the fact that demand for dairy products has increased faster than production during the past several years. Even though prices plunged to the farmer, consumers did not see any significant savings at the grocery store. Low prices are driving out as many as 75 dairy operations per day in the U.S. Texas is losing an average of 26 per month.

Farmers Union and other participating organizations presented thousands of signed petitions from dairy producers and other concerned persons to President Clinton, Secretary of Agriculture Glickman and key members of Congress, calling for a temporary floor price of $14.50 per hundredweight on fluid milk until permanent dairy policy reforms are made by 1999, as mandated under the current farm bill. "Sense of the Senate" and "Sense of the House" resolutions were introduced Sept. 9, which call for temporary floor price.

"This would not interfere with dairy exports. It should not increase consumer prices," noted Wes Sims during a dairy news conference Sept. 9, attended by several hundred dairy producers in front of the U.S. Capitol.

John Denton, a milk producer from Axtell took to Washington milk stubs from 1981 to 1997, which showed that the prices in the 1980s were $14.75 (per hundredweight) to $15, whereas his last milk check brought $12.41 (per hundredweight).

Denton said, "Dairy producers are going out of business all over the United States at a record number, and something has to be done and be done quickly."

During this year's fly-in, NFU officials presented USDA Secretary Dan Glickman with a request that President Clinton appoint a cabinet level commission to study concentration in all sectors of the economy.

"Monopolization of industries such as we are seeing today at unprecedented levels, has destroyed free, competitive markets in this country," Sims said. "It also empowers special interest groups over individual citizens in our government's policy-making process."

Members also discussed improving safety net features of the current farm bill, which would give producers more marketing flexibility in the increasingly volatile marketplace. Farmers Union is calling for removing the cap on commodity loan rates; extend the loan period from the present nine months to 15 months; expand the Crop Revenue Coverage program; and reauthorization of the Farmer-Owned Reserve and keep it insulated from the market.

Farmers Union also urged Congress to reject fast-track legislation because it prevents lawmakers from having any direct involvement in trade agreement negotiations. Under fast track, Congress can only vote to accept or reject an agreement with no amendments allowed, and debate is limited to no more than 20 hours. The Clinton Administration and some members of Congress want to reinstate fast track as a tool in their attempt to expand the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to include several South American countries.

"The current NAFTA has many problems," noted TFU President Sims. "Imports have increased 44 percent since NAFTA, yet, less than one percent of these products is inspected. This has led to the introduction of diseases in this country such as the recent outbreak of Karnal bunt in our wheat. Let's slow down and fix the problems before we think about expanding these trade agreements."

Farmers Union members attending this year's fly-in spent a half-day meeting with USDA leadership, including Secretary Glickman, Farm Service Agency Administrator Keith Kelly, Rural Development Undersecretary Jill Long Thompson, Marketing and Regulatory Programs Assistant Secretary Mike Dunn, Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Undersecretary Gus Schumacher and Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Undersecretary Tom Hebert. The group also had the opportunity to discuss federal disaster assistance with James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A number of Farmers Union members were also invited to participate in a round table discussion with members of Congress.

TFU members participating in the fly-in included Wes Sims of Sweetwater, Joe Rankin of Ralls, Brian Chandler of Midland, Charles Lindsey of China Spring, John Denton of Axtell and Billy Miller of McGregor.

Second cantaloupe crop not affected by recent rains

Recent rainstorms did not drop enough precipitation to delay Pecos Cantaloupe Company's second picking this year, according to spokesman A.B. Foster.

"We've had a few showers around here, and they haven't bothered us," Foster said last Thursday.

"We'll start picking a few this weekend," said Foster.

He can't predict what the yield will be, although it will not be a large crop.

"We don't know" what the harvest will bring in, he said, because "it's a late crop, and we don't have many acres."

Foster said that this is only the second year that the company has produced a second cantaloupe crop, "so it's still an experiment."

Pecos Cantaloupe's bell pepper harvest will begin on time, "around the first of October," Foster said.

The crop "looks good right now," he said.

Foster said that the bell pepper harvest should last until early November. He can't predict how many peppers the harvest will bring in though, because "we still have the weather factor."

Pecos Cantaloupe has about 150 acres planted with bell peppers.

Report offers insight into condition
of modern farm operators, households

What is the average gross income for U.S. farms? How many hours do farmers spend working off the farm? How connected are they to electronic sources of information?

These are some of the questions answered in Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms, 1994: 19th Annual Family Farm Report to the Congress. The report is based on farm operator responses to USDA's Farm Costs and Returns Survey (FCRS), conducted annually in the 48 contiguous states. It describes the characteristics of farms, farm operators, and farm operator households, and assesses their financial performance. This edition also provides information on farm operators not previously available: their sources of farm business information, the criteria by which they measure business success, and their business goals.

Report highlights

More than 2 million U.S. farms produced agricultural commodities that generated an average of $74,000 in gross value of sales per farm in 1994. Still, 73 percent of farms had gross value of sales under $50,000 (noncommercial farms), although they accounted for just 11 percent of total U.S. farm sales.

Gross cash farm income (adjusted to exclude the share of production accruing to landlords and contractors) averaged near $69,000. However, gross cash farm income for the nation's largest farms (sales $1 million or more) averaged almost $2 million, so that less than one percent of farms accounted for 23 percent of gross cash farm income. Commodity sales accounted for 84 percent of total gross cash farm income, with government payments adding five percent and other farm income 11 percent.

Acreage per farm, which has tripled over the last six decades, averaged 448 acres operated in 1994, but half of all farms were under 180 acres. Livestock farms producing some combination of beef cattle, hogs and sheep accounted for the largest share of farms grouped by farm type. Even though these farms had larger acreage than the U.S. average, they had lower average gross cash farm income and gross value of sales.

Half of all farms cash rented or share rented some or all of the land they operated in 1994. Farm operators who owned all the land they operated but had a rental arrangement for machinery, buildings, or livestock (five percent of full owners) had income and sales five times as high as full owners who rented nothing.

More than 90 percent of farm businesses were legally organized as individual operations, while six percent of farms were partnerships and four percent were corporations (most of which were family-owned). Farms organized as individual operations averaged more than $50,000 in gross value of sales and had farm assets that averaged more than $350,000.

While 13 percent of all farm operators reported having some contractual arrangement for production and/or marketing of farm commodities, farms with marketing contracts outnumbered farms with production contracts by more than four to one. Use of contracting arrangements varied by such farm characteristics as sales class and type of production. For example, more than 60 percent of poultry farms had production contracts.

Net cash farm income averaged $11,696 for farms nationwide, but ranged from negative for farms with sales under $50,000 to more than $380,000 for farms with sales of $1 million or more. Farm assets generally increased with

To Get the Full Report...

The information presented here is summarized from Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms, 1994: 19th Annual Family Farm Report to the Congress, AIB-735, by Judith E. Sommer and others.

For a copy, call 202-219-0510 or 202-219-9054, fax your request to 202-501-6156, or e-mail or

For additional U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service data and analysis, visit our web site at

Texas monthly oil, gas statistics


The Commission issued a total of 1,216 original drilling permits in August compared to 1,057 in August 1996. The August total included 929 permits to drill new oil and gas wells, 42 to re-enter existing well bores, and 245 for re-completions.

So far in 1997, there have been 9,380 drilling permits issued compared to 8,270 recorded during the same period in 1996.

Permits issued in August included 455 oil, 296 gas, 400 oil and gas, 40 injection, and 9 other permits.


In August, operators reported 318 oil, 387 gas, 24 injection and no other completions, compared to 331 oil, 358 gas, and 27 injection and three other completions during the same month of last year.

Total well completions for 1997 year-to-date is 6,142 up from 5,832 recorded during the same period in 1996.

Operators reported 523 holes plugged and 128 dry holes in August compared to 588 holes plugged and 111 dry holes during the same period last year.

Texas preliminary June 1997 crude oil production averaged 1,300,966 barrels daily, down from the 1,322,916 barrels daily average of June 1996.

The preliminary Texas crude oil production figure for June 1997 is 39,028,970 barrels, a decrease from the 39,687,493 barrels reported during June 1996.


Texas oil and gas wells produced 444,088,028 Mcf (thousand cubic feet) of gas based upon preliminary production figures for June 1997, down from the June 1996 preliminary gas production total of 451,955,099 Mcf.

Texas gas production in June came from 162,627 oil and 50,847 gas wells.

Meat concerns prove need for market reforms

Recent events surrounding the Hudson Beef scare prove the need for serious and immediate market reform, a coalition of livestock industry leaders said today.

"American livestock producers dedicated to providing consumers with the best products available are extremely frustrated by the events surrounding the Hudson Beef situation," said Mike Callicrate, a Kansas Feed Yard owner and chairman of the market Reform Coalition.

"The current market system virtually robs consumers of the ability to select our products in the retail marketplace."

Callicrate and other industry representatives in the coalition noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has so far been unable to specifically locate the source of slaughter for the tainted beef processed at the Hudson facility. Meat currently sold in the United States is not required to list the country of origin.

Legislation now under consideration in congress would implement country of origin labeling for livestock products. That legislation has received strong backing from the industry leaders involved in the Market Reform Coalition.

Wes Sims, president of Texas Farmers Union and member of the coalition steering committee noted, "Consumers deserve the right to choose between domestically-produced beef and imported products."

The coalition strongly criticized the recent acquisition of Hudson Beef by IBP, Inc. IBP already controls 38 percent of the nation's meat slaughter.

"The consolidation of the meat processing industry into a few hands has done absolutely nothing to increase the quality of beef delivered to the American public. Producers and consumers alike are ill-served by the further consolidation in this industry," said Callicrate.

Roughly 50 livestock industry representatives meeting in Jackson, Mississippi organized the Market Reform Coalition in early July. The "Jackson Principles" adopted by the coalition include:

· Free, open, competitive markets with price disclosure that reflects true market value; and

· Commitment to delivering high quality, safe, healthy products to consumers.

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