Last week agriculture was certainly the focus of events held out at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds. Tuesday and Wednesday, third grade students from around Nueces County were introduced to different aspects of the local Ag Industry through the annual Ag Awareness Field Days sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Nueces County Farm Bureau, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, local Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Behmann Brothers Foundation.

Thanks to many volunteers, including 4-H and FFA members, these third grade students were introduced to what it really takes to provide the food and fiber that you and I enjoy daily. The students were introduced to some of the latest farm technology, including machinery, and plants like cotton, grain sorghum, corn, sesame, sunflower, flax, wheat, canola and safflower. Animals were also popular with students as they saw a dairy cow being milked and learned about the importance of beef cattle, horses, sheep, goats, swine and poultry.

The inaugural event of the Coastal Bend Farm and Ranch Show was held Thursday through Saturday and featured some of the latest Ag technology along with numerous educational seminars. Despite the fact that drying soils were calling farmers back to the fields to finish the harvest of remaining cotton and sesame, and destroy the seedling cotton and cotton regrowth, attendance was good, with many folks making suggestions for what should be planned for next year's show. For all the folks that supported this event this year, THANK YOU. You were part of history and helped showcase our very large and important Ag Industry here in the Coastal Bend.

One of the featured educational seminars held on Saturday was the Texas Beef Quality Producer Program (TBQP). The mission of the TBQP is to promote good management practices for cattle producers in an effort to strengthen consumer confidence in beef as a wholesome food product.

Here are some important points beef cattle producers should consider. As a Texas food producer, your livelihood depends on securing the consumer's trust. The size of your operation is not important, as meat scientists estimate there are 542 potential consumers just for the steaks and roasts of a single beef animal. The management at the cow-calf and stocker calf level makes a big difference in whether those 542 consumers have a good, wholesome eating experience.

The TBQP Program is not about spending more money or buying into a here-today, gone-tomorrow trend. These proven beef quality practices are just better methods of doing the same jobs you're already doing.

The main focus of the program is food safety. Eliminating residues, blemishes and foreign objects is critical to maintaining consumer confidence and acceptance of beef as the protein of choice in their diet.

Online educational tools are now available to beef producers. is a virtual video library which is designed to teach beef cattle producers the best management practice for beef quality. These practices potentially will help the producer's bottom-line and will aid in the production of high quality and safe beef products for the consumer. This service is provided by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and is supported through the generosity of the Texas Beef Council. More information about TBQP is available at

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5217.