Remarkable Accomplishments During
By Joe Parker Jr., TSCRA president
2011 was a remarkable year for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) and for the members.
We endured a year of historic, exceptional drought in Texas and the Southwest. Rampant wildfires driven by high winds burned across the state. Sustained high temperatures and wind drew what little moisture there was in the ground out, parching the land. Hay prices skyrocketed while hay quality diminished. Many cattle raisers reduced or moved their herds to states with grass.
Nevertheless, thanks to your hard work and the support of allies, your association is financially strong
and is accomplishing great things on your behalf. And ambitious plans are in place to continue this growth in what are clearly challenging times.
2011 was a banner year for landowner rights. TSCRA has always championed the cause of protecting private property rights. In 2011, we led a coalition of state landowner and agricultural groups to support the passage of 2 bills that protect these rights. Thanks to your support of these actions — testifying at hearings, contacting your elected representatives and making your voices heard — the Texas Legislature passed a bill that protects the rights of landowners in cases of eminent domain, and passed a bill affirming that you own the groundwater beneath your land. And in 2012, the Texas Supreme Court supported landowner ownership of groundwater beneath their land.
Challenges to private property rights will continue, but with these 2 victories, landowners have more solid ground on which to stand when the challenges come.
In the area of law enforcement, TSCRA special rangers conducted 898 investigations in 2011 that resulted in the recovery of more than $4.2 million in ranch and livestock property.
The TSCRA brand inspectors inspected 5.1 million head of cattle in 2011.
TSCRA entered into a cooperative agreement with the Texas Forest Service to involve our special rangers as a key part of the Incident Command Structure on major fires in the state. This will allow more direct communication from the firefighters and agencies to landowners during the critical stages of fire.
At the end of February, Texas concluded its once-a-decade brand re-registration process. In July 2011, TSCRA's Information Technology and Communications Services staff launched a new website and online resource to help with brand registration. TSCRAbrands.com allows users to search for brands within a county. While Texas cattle owners still have to register their brand in the county in which you run cattle, now you have a free resource to research your brand or similar brands.
TSCRA has more than more than 15,700 members at mid-2012, putting us on track to meet our goal of 20/20 — 20,000 members by 2020 — despite the challenges of environment and economy.
The membership recruitment and retention efforts work on several levels. TSCRA aggressively solicits membership renewals and is working to make renewal simpler for members.
Face-to-face outreach is equally important to growing membership. Last year, thanks to generous support from members who hosted or sponsored events, TSCRA had 18 ranch gatherings.
Value is added to the TSCRA membership thanks to free training and education for members. TSCRA organized 5 Beef Quality Assurance sessions, and initiated the popular Ranching 101 series in Fort Worth. If you are interested in attending a Ranching 101 program, reserve your seat early. Every Ranching 101 program so far has been standing-room-only.
The TSCRA Member Programs staff also organized or participated in 11 Cattlemen's Field Days and 3 meetings of the Young Leadership Series group, education and networking aimed at members aged 19 to 40.
In the area of membership, let me shift from what TSCRA has done to what the Association Promotion Committee plans to do.
A subgroup of the Association Promotion Committee, called the Director Engagement Working Group, offers a plan to engage TSCRA board members in member recruitment and retention to sustain and propel membership growth in the coming years.
Director Van Baize, Bowie, chairs the working group and is joined by directors Missy Bonds, Saginaw; Austin Brown II, Beeville; Dr. Richard Thorpe, Winters; and members Bryan Daniel, Georgetown; and Claudia Wright, Richmond. Past Association Promotion Committee Chair Tom Haynie, Navasota, offered significant input and insight to the working group.
They developed 4 recommendations
1. Establish culture and expectations — TSCRA will create a culture within the board of directors to clearly identify expectations for membership recruitment and retention involvement. TSCRA will foster greater engagement in these responsibilities and activities.
2. Provide tools, training and education — TSCRA will develop and provide the necessary tools training and education that will allow directors to easily engage in membership recruitment and retention activities.
3. Increase local engagement and personal contact — TSCRA will provide opportunities for directors to be more involved in planning and conducting local events and activities that will enhance personal contact to potential, current and former members.
4. Maintain a vibrant communications network — TSCRA will establish and maintain a vibrant communication network between directors, leadership, special rangers and staff to facilitate and reinforce member recruitment and retention efforts.
I am happy to report the TSCRA board of directors approved this plan from the Board Engagement Working Group at the 2012 TSCRA Convention Weekend. The group has outlined many ideas to be implemented under each of the 4 points. I know we will soon see the results of this plan.
Speaking of member recruitment efforts, I want to pause to highlight the remarkable example TSCRA Director Linda Joy Stovall, El Campo, sets as a recruiter. I single her out because of the obvious passion she has for TSCRA and her understanding of what a strong, growing membership means in terms of influence and effectiveness in protecting the ranching way of life. Few people are as bold and direct as Linda Joy is when asking a non-member to join.
She has been a leader in this effort by TSCRA for nearly 10 years and deserves our thanks for her continuing support. And, I am equally thankful that TSCRA has many more members who are passionate about membership growth and are willing to dedicate time to the effort. This new plan and new membership marketing materials will certainly support our goal of 20,000 members by 2020.
TSCRA offers goods and services to the members through the various departments within the organization.
TSCRA Insurance Services (IS) continues to do a very good job and continues to contribute to the bottom line of our finances. TSCRA IS continues to provide affordable health care to members in spite of the challenging health care issues created by federal law. Be assured TSCRA IS is keeping a close watch on the developments of national health care.
We were gratified by the increase in support from Allied Industry members in 2011, in the form of increased sponsorships. We thank our sponsors for their 10 percent increase in sponsorship support for programs and activities.
Great strides have been made in developing new discount partnerships with companies such as Rios of Mercedes, Greeley Hat Works, Staples, Holiday Inn and National Roper's Supply.
The TSCRA Communications Services and Media Relations efforts continue to tell the story of ranching. Staff members are reaching out to a wider base of advertisers to support the website, magazine and daily emailed newsletter. You may begin to see advertising in places you've never seen before from TSCRA. In 2011, several of our members stepped up to the microphone and agreed to be interviewed by local, state and national media.
On the national level, TSCRA was very well represented at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) convention earlier this year. Past President Bob McCan, Victoria, was elected NCBA vice president. TSCRA Second Vice President Pete Bonds, Saginaw, and his family were presented BEEF magazine's 2011 National Stocker Award. TSCRA Director of Public Affairs Carmen Fenton was the recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Communications award from NCBA. And TSCRA member Matador Ranch was a finalist for the national Environmental Stewardship Award from NCBA.
As you can see, even under the most challenging conditions, TSCRA continues to plan for growth, develop strong partnerships and alliances, and remain vigilant in our duty to protect private property rights. It is a privilege to serve as president of such an effective organization. Our success is due to your continued support. Thank you.