The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas, and their partners, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) and Texas Wheat Producers (TWP) hosted eight agricultural professionals from Australia and New Zealand, known as the Nuffield Scholars recently.
“We showcased agriculture and conservation in Texas during their week-long stay in Texas,” said NRCS State Conservationist Don Gohmert. “The Nuffield Scholars learned how farmers and ranchers in the Panhandle and High Plains deal with shared issues and opportunities such as water use, conservation practices, waste management, pest and parasite management, product marketing and more.”
“If you go to the States, I think you’ve got to go to Texas,” says Paul McGill, New Zealand Farm Manager and sheep raiser. “In terms of agriculture production, New Zealand has a lot of advantages in coming here.”
One of the first stops on the tour was at A2 Cattle Feeders in Dimmit, where owner and manager Mark Adams showed the group some of his cattle feeding techniques and processes, including animal identification tracking system, animal care and safety, feed management and air quality control through dust management.
The group also made a stop at Estacado Industries Lamb Feeders in Dimmit. Owner Don Beerwinkle gave the group a tour of his lamb feedyard, shearing area, as well as an explanation of his feeding system. He explained his marketing techniques and gave an overview of the lamb industry, which has been declining in recent years.
A stop at the High Plains Dairy in Friona, Texas was a hit with the group where the Parmer County, Tierra Blanca and Running Water Soil and Water Conservation Districts provided lunch and owner Harry DeWitt gave an extensive tour of his award-winning dairy.
"To lead our industry in the future is why we are here in the States,” says Desiree Reid a New Zealand Dairy Farmer. “The States are the world rulers and we need to understand the States."
In the afternoon the group toured White Energy Ethanol plant in Hereford, Texas, led by David Gibson, executive director for the Texas Corn Producers Board.
The Scholars are chosen through a highly competitive application process selecting people between the ages of 22 and 45 who have a deep passion for and bright future in farming, food, and rural industries. Each Scholar travels to various countries for six weeks. They are looking to develop potential and promote excellence in all aspects of Australian agriculture through the adoption of local and international best practices and the networking of industry leaders.
Tour includes stops in England, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, United States (Washington, D.C. and Texas), and China. The 2010 Nuffield Scholar group has diverse agriculture backgrounds, including beef cattle, lambs, dairy cattle, bees, vegetable and grain crops, as well as lobster fishing.
The tour, which began in Amarillo, ended at the Fort Worth Stockyards with stops at Bingham Family Vineyard and the 6666 Ranch. With offices is in nearly every county in the United States, the USDA-NRCS is well suited to introduce the Australians to outstanding agriculture leaders and decision makers in Texas while showcasing agriculture technology and conservation practices.