Over 220 people converged on the historic Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen, TX for the first annual Texas Hispanic Farmer and Rancher Conference. The conference brought together the Hispanic farming community, agriculture industry individuals and advocates for sustainability. The conference featured workshops, along with an opportunity for networking and collaborated learning. Four workshop tracts were offered: urban farming, ranching, crop farming and Southern SARE on farm research and education, with each tract offering four sessions. Within each session, facilitators included an expert in the field and a farmer/rancher to share real life experiences. Opportunities to ask questions and share ideas were encouraged throughout the workshops and general sessions.
Representatives from USDA, NRCS, NSAC, SSARE, NCAT, FSA, NASS, TSSWCB and UTRGV were present to explain programs and assistance offered through their respective offices. HMI was represented at the conference by Tracy Litle, an HMI Certified Educator.
A delicious lunch was provided to all attendees as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) unveiled its newest MS degree program in Agroecology – combining the disciplines of agriculture, environmental and sustainability sciences.
Day One of the conference concluded with a social mixer, offering a time to network and fellowship, hosted by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Day Two of the conference began bright and early with tours offered to farm and ranch attendees that represented the three tiers of agricultural producers- cattle, row cropping and specialty. Breakout sessions continued throughout the day, with attendees also given time to visit exhibitors at the trade show. A Plenary Session highlighted farmers markets, urban farms and large-scale farms with personal experiences shared with those attending, as well as histories and visions of each, leaving the audience with a “I can do this too!” attitude, along with suggestions on how to get started. The day ended with a general Q & A Session featuring both producers and representatives of the various agencies in attendance.