Farmers and ranchers from across Texas will be headed to Corpus Christi to help Texas Farm Bureau ring in its 75th anniversary during the organization's annual convention Dec. 6-8 at the American Bank Center.

“Seventy-five years is by no means a small feat for any organization,” said Kenneth Dierschke, president of the state's largest general farm organization. “What began as a vision all those years ago has grown into a grassroots organization unlike any other that will remain a vital voice for us as we look toward our next 75 years.”

While celebrations are definitely in store to mark this historic occasion for the Texas Farm Bureau, 2008 has been anything but the banner year for many farmers and ranchers in the state.

“While some of our farm-raised products saw some of the best prices ever in our industry, our farmers and ranchers were also paying record prices for everything they need to grow a crop or tend their livestock,” Dierschke noted. “Fuel, fertilizer and feed prices were easily twice what they were last year — in some cases, they were more than 10 times what we paid just five years ago. And while prices may have soared for many of our crops, many were less than half their peak when it came time for most of us to bring in our harvests.”

As if a rollercoaster economy weren't bad enough, Texas farmers and ranchers also bore the brunt of several natural disasters in 2008, ranging from the tempest deluges and tidal surges of Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike to some of the driest times on record for some parts of Central and South Texas.

“Texas farmers and ranchers have no doubt been through another difficult year,” Dierschke said. “But our strength lies in numbers during these difficult times, and we will lay our road to recovery when we come together as an organization in Corpus Christi.”

Dierschke said the policy developed at the annual meeting is unique in that it is not an endorsement of decisions already made, but the beginning of the state's largest farm organization's game plan for the coming year. With the state Legislature set to convene in 2009, the business of policy will be an utmost priority, he said.

Registration for the state convention, along with TFB Member Services exhibits, begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6. Other Saturday events will include the Miss TFB and Talent Find Contests, as well as the Free Enterprise Speech Contests. Events Sunday, Dec. 7, begin with a 10:30 a.m. devotional, followed by member recognition awards, Pioneer Award presentations and the naming of the 2008 Outstanding Young Farmer and Rancher. The 75th anniversary Celebration kicks off at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, featuring entertainment by Chris Story and Southern Edge and musings by humorist Bryan Townsend. The meeting concludes Monday, Dec. 8, with the organization's annual business session.