Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Future of water supply is topic of annual ranch symposium

Memorial Student Union Building - 10/26/12 - 10/26/12

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

As much of the United States, including South Texas, is facing one of the worst droughts in history, the future of the nation’s water supply is threatened. This challenging issue will be discussed by ranchers and landowners at the Ninth Annual Holt Cat® Symposium Thursday and Friday, Oct. 25-26, at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and presented by the King Ranch® Institute for Ranch Management.

 This year’s topic, Water: Agricultural Challenges and Strategies for the Future, will inform those attending of current policy issues that directly affect the ranching industry’s water supply and will provide guidance on how farmers and ranchers can become involved in the issue.

All sessions will be held at the Memorial Student Union Building. Early registration is $150 and the fee includes meals, refreshments, entry into the trade show and workbook materials. After Monday, Oct. 15, the registration fee is $200. Additional tickets for the Thursday night dinner may be purchased for $50. For more information about the symposium or to register, visit http://krirm.tamuk.edu/symposium.html or call 361-593-5401.

The topic of the symposium is important because today, many municipalities are reaching out for water to help support expanding populations and the state and federal governments play a major role in deciding where and how water is used, said Dr. Clay P. Mathis, KRIRM director and Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Endowed Chair. These examples, along with other laws, cases and management practice examples will be discussed at the symposium.

“Farmers and ranchers must be educated and engaged in the water debate. The agricultural community must be proactive in protecting our water interests,” Mathis said.

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Neal Wilkins, president and chief executive officer of East Wildlife Foundation. He has more than 25 years of experience leading conservation efforts that focus on habitat management and conservation of land, water and wildlife resources. The keynote address will be given during lunch Oct. 25.

Wilkins will talk about Water: What’s in Store for the Next 50 Years? Before becoming president and CEO of East Wildlife Foundation, he was a professor of wildlife science and served as director of the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Texas Water Resources Institute where he coordinated the programs of more than 45 scientists and professional staff. He has over 25 years of experience leading research and conservation efforts across private lands in Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Washington and Oregon. His primary focus has been habitat management and conservation of land, water and wildlife resources on private lands. Much of his work integrates science, policy and economics for developing wildlife conservation programs.

Until 2006, Wilkins was a statewide program leader for wildlife and fisheries with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Prior to joining the Texas A&M faculty, he directed the wildlife and fisheries program for Port Blakely Tree Farms, a 150,000-acre forest landholding in the Pacific Northwest. Wilkins is a director and former vice president of the Texas Wildlife Association and is a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club. He is a certified wildlife biologist holding a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University; a master’s in wildlife science from Texas A&M and a doctorate in wildlife ecology from University of Florida.

Other sessions include: 

Agricultural Water: Protecting the Future of Our Nation by Mitch Hutchcraft and Warren Peterson. Hutchcraft is vice president of real estate for King Ranch and Consolidated Citrus, LP. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. He has 24 years’ experience in agricultural land use strategies, land use entitlements, zoning, innovative master planning and collaborative stewardship efforts. Warren Peterson has a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a law degree from University of Utah. He has practiced law for 29 years with emphasis in agriculture, land and water. He is currently vice president of Farmland Reserve Inc. Peterson served on the Utah Water Financing Task Force and as a member and chair of the Utah Board of Water Resources. 

Overview of National Water Management by Weir Labatt, past chair of Western States Water Council. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of Schreiner University in Kerrville and on the Investment Committees of the San Antonio Area Foundation and The Trust Company. He served as member of the Texas Water Development Board, which annually provides loans and grants for drinking water and waste water projects. 

Overview of Texas Water Management by Russell S. Johnson, partner in McGinnis, Lochridge and Kilgore LLP. Johnson’s current practice involves advocacy before the courts, legislature and administrative agencies on behalf of landowners, businesses, mineral owners and developers seeking to safeguard and benefit from their ownership of land and water resources. His practice emphasizes land use, water rights and the Endangered Species Act. 

Getting Involved in National Policy Development by Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. He serves as the group’s chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill and leads the Washington office in developing strategies to ensure that the cattle industry’s voice is being heard by policy makers. He holds a degree in agricultural systems management from Texas A&M and is a native of Big Spring. 

Getting Involved in State and Local Policy Development by Jason Skaggs, executive director of government and public affairs for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Skaggs manages the Austin office and is responsible for the group’s legislative and regulatory efforts at the state and federal levels. He also oversees the political action committee activities including fundraising efforts and contributions to political candidates. 

What Do I Do When My Water Rights are Challenged? by Warren Peterson. 

Protecting Western Water Rights through the Montana Compact Commission by Jim Peterson, rancher and president of Montana State Senate. Jim Peterson is a farmer and rancher and former chairman of the United States Meat Export Federation. He served in the Montana House and Senate where he was both majority leader and president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Montana State University and his master’s in agriculture from Texas A&M. 

Water Management on the Ranch by Dr. Bruce Carpenter, livestock specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Carpenter is headquartered at the District VI center in Fort Stockton. He is also a member of the physiology of reproduction section in the department of animal science at Texas A&M. He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science and range science from New Mexico State University and both his master’s and doctoral degrees in physiology of reproduction from Texas A&M. 

Water Capture Technology: Mills, Pumps and Storage by Jack Canon, field engineer, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Canon was raised in Pecos and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M. He worked for the Pennzoil Sulfur mine as an engineer and consulting engineer. He is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and New Mexico. 

Connecting Agriculture with the People by Charlie Arnot, Chief Executive Officer for the Center for Food Integrity. The Center for Food Integrity is a non-profit organization dedicated to building consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system. He is recognized as a thought leader on food and agriculture issues and is a thought-provoking writer and speaker. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from University of Nebraska.


This page was last updated on: October 05, 2012