Texas farmers and ranchers honored for century of service

State & Regional

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Farmers and ranchers from across Texas were honored by the state’s agriculture leaders for operating for 100 or more years.

The Texas Department of Agriculture presented certificates to 70 farmers and ranchers from 53 Texas counties through the Family Land Heritage Program.

“It’s legacy,” Sid Miller, the state’s agriculture commissioner said. “Agriculture’s always been the glue that’s helped stay together from the earliest longhorn cattle drives after the Civil War, so we’re honoring those families that have held on to that legacy.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (center) presents a certificate on Oct 30, 2018, to Jeff Dale Johnson and Cathy Johnson, of Johnson Farm in Lubbock County, for operating their farm for 100 years. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

Fourth generation farmers like Jeff and Cathy Johnson know that legacy and see their cotton crop as more than business. For them, it’s a way of life. Their family has farmed in eastern Lubbock County since 1918.

“There’s not very many farms or even pieces of farms that remain for 100 years.,” Johnson said. “So we’re proud of that.”

The owners of Galloway-Radney Ranch have run cattle on a plot that is now around 50 acres in Wood County, north of Tyler, since 1887. Linda Radney Busby said advancements in technology have changed the way consumers demand their products.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (center) presents a certificate on Oct 30, 2018 to Charles Busby and Linda Radney Busby, of Galloway-Radney Ranch in Wood County, for operating their farm for more than 100 years. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

“Now everything is automated,” Mrs. Busby said, and she and her husband Charles reflected on how they used to milk cows.

Sometimes diversity helps. Just ask The Loyas, who operates the oldest cotton and dairy farm in El Paso County, founded in 1917, have turned from cotton, alfalfa, cows, sheep, and goats, to organic fruit and vegetables to sustain their land.

“It’s in our heart and it’s something we want to continue,” Marta Loya, granddaughter of the farm’s founder, said. Loya’s husband Ralph said their kids want to take over then when the time comes, and that’s something he’s grateful for.

Miller said farmers are risk-takers, as they battle the weather, the economy, and a growing demand for the products they export.

“It’s always a challenge, the biggest gambler is not in Las Vegas, it’s out here on the family farm,” he explained before the ceremony.

“You may not be involved in agriculture but everyone is affected by agriculture,” Miller added.

17 of the properties honored Tuesday have been active for more than 150 years. The two oldest farms recognized Tuesday were both founded in 1860 in Anderson County.

“When you’ve got a little bit a land, you’ve got the Lord, you’re going to make it in this world,” Mrs. Busby said.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has posted the complete list of honorees and more details about the Family Heritage program on its website.

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