Special to the News-Journal

Members of the 16th Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership program visited East Texas recently to add to their statewide perspective on agriculture in the Lone Star State.

TALL, administered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, provides knowledge and understanding of agriculture and related industries in today’s complex economic, political and social systems, said Jim Mazurkiewicz, leadership program director in College Station.

The two-year program brings participants together eight times at locations around Texas. They attend seminars and meet with government and business leaders to discuss local, state, national and international topics.

“This group represents the cream of the crop from Texas’ diversified ag industries,” Mazurkiewicz said. “It’s important that we choose professionals who are leaders in their own right, because when you put them together along with the 300-plus speakers they hear from over the course, it builds relationships and understanding that will benefit the entire state and every Texan.”

The mission of TALL is to create a cadre of Texas leaders to help ensure effective understanding and encourage positive action on key issues, theories, policy and economics that will advance the agriculture industry.

The current class includes 25 members from around the state. In East Texas, they visited ag-related operations ranging from Certified Roses in Tyler and other nurseries to John Soules Food, Brookshire’s facilities, the Stephen F. Austin Poultry Center and Research facilities, area poultry producers, a working sawmill and timber operations.

“Production in East Texas rivals other parts of the state when we talk about cash receipts and economic impact for the state,” Mazurkiewicz said. “Lumber, horticulture, poultry and cow/calf operations are a big part of the overall agricultural production landscape, and it’s important to have the class learn about the opportunities, issues and challenges within those industries.”