Looking back, Ron Lacewell said he sensed something different about the Texas Plant Protection Association 25 years ago when he first got involved.
“It was in the 1980s when former Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (now Texas A&M AgriLife Research) associate director Dudley Smith requested that I develop a paper for one of the sections and present it at the conference,” said Lacewell, assistant vice chancellor for federal relations with Texas A&M AgriLife. “That’s when I got to meet Ray Smith and some of the others that are the grandfathers involved in the association. Working with them, it appeared this association was different from others. I saw that it was a multi-disciplinary opportunity for producers as well as industry, researchers and Extension throughout Texas.”
Lacewell said through the years, TPPA has attracted many leaders throughout the agriculture industry, highlighting keynote addresses by Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman, Texas Agriculture Commissioners Todd Staples and former Commissioner Susan Combs, former U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Mack Gray and other policy leaders.
If you are enjoying reading this article, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox
“TPPA is the perfect opportunity to bring together policy makers and producers to hear the latest in technology, research and Extension education all in one place. Ray Smith is the energy behind TPPA and he brings out the best in us. He keeps prodding us and wants us to throw ideas on the table.”
Lacewell has been more than just a presenter at the annual conference. He has been a TPPA board member for a number of years and was involved in the implementation of the annual awards program. His efforts for TPPA have not gone unnoticed, receiving the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award from the association in 2011.
The award is given to association members who have made special contributions to the association.
Lacewell sees a bright future for TPPA.
“There’s been incredible consolidation in the industry, but through this consolidation there has been growth in TPPA participation. The association continues to address relevant issues affecting the agriculture industry and I think we will continue to see individuals turn to the association to stay updated.
“I say this with the current farm bill program still undecided. What in the world are the rules of the game going to be? TPPA is the one organization that can provide information on outlook and implications. Other areas such as precision agriculture, genetic manipulation of plants and the rules of the game, those are issues that TPPA will continue to be active in providing updates and information.”
Lacewell said the other area he is pleased with is communicating the value of TPPA to the agriculture industry.
“I’m proud of Texas A&M AgriLife Communications and Southwest Farm Press for the publicity they give TPPA,” he said. “There’s a lot of value in getting TPPA out there in the mainstream media and farm publications. I think people read and hear the news coming from this conference and it makes them want to attend future conferences to see what else they can learn and apply in their professional activities.”
Overall, TPPA provides a great opportunity for agriculture professionals to interact with each other.
“The networking opportunities are fantastic,” he said. “You get the chance to see who is who, meet each other and see who is in charge of particular aspects of the business whether it’s private, industry, government or academia. I find it an honor to be on the board and work with each year’s meeting planning. It’s one of the highlights of the year.”