• Agriculture commissioner: Texas farmers, ranchers endangered by border violence

    TODD YATES/CALLER-TIMES Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples speaks Thursday at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown.

    ROBSTOWN — Texas and Mexico share valuable trade ties, but border security issues threaten that relationship by endangering farmers and ranchers, state Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said Thursday.

    Staples outlined the Texas Department of Agriculture's "Protect Your Texas Border" initiative during his keynote address on the first day of the South Texas Commodity Symposium and Texas AgXchange South Texas Farm and Ranch Show.

    Staples said the initiative was inspired by South and West Texas farmers and ranchers who say they are being shot at, threatened and having employees run off by drug cartels.

    By Mike D. Smith
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 6:36 p.m.

    Those are harmful impacts on an industry that nets about $100 billion in economic value, he said.

    "We don't like seeing people saying 'I'm getting out of agriculture because I couldn't take the traffic across my property anymore,' " Staples said.

    Cartels are fueled by estimated profits as high as $39 billion that have outgunned and outmanned U.S. resources, Staples said.

    To combat those resources, Staples called on increasing the amount of authorities such as Department of Public Safety troopers along the border.

    He also called for an increased National Guard presence and modernizing ports of entry to handle legal movements quickly.

    Finally, the federal government must recognize the sophisticated drug cartels as terrorist organizations, Staples said.

    "Let's go after their pocketbooks, let's cripple these cartels financially and let's put them out of business," Staples told a crowd gathered at a Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds conference room.

    Staples also advocated sending military surplus equipment no longer in use in foreign conflicts to help with the border security effort.

    Surveillance technology already has been passed on to authorities by the Defense Department.

    Unmanned drones have been based in South Texas to patrol the border region.

    "We need to send a message to the drug cartels not that our border is safer than ever, but that America will stop at nothing in defeating transnational criminal organizations," Staples said.

    The two-day, third annual symposium — hosted by Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, Corn Producers Association of Texas, South Texas Cotton and Grain Association and the Southwest Council of Agribusinesses — is running concurrently with the South Texas Outdoor Farm and Ranch Show sponsored by VerticalXchange and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

    The joint event is expected to bring thousands of agriculture producers to the Coastal Bend with product demonstrations, about 150 vendors and seminars that offer continuing education credits.

    The symposium and farm and ranch show continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Texas Agriculture Commissioner Calls for More Border Security started by Jean View original post