Texas leads the nation with 150 thousand cattle operations supporting 15.5 million head, almost as many as the total cattle population of Canada at 15.7 million head.
Now, this bodes well for Texas because everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, but when we look closer at the agricultural statistics we see another side to this production story.
Out of these 150,000 cattle operations, 105,000 are supporting only one to 49 head of cattle and only 22,000 have 50 to 99 head.
These small operations account for almost 25 percent of the total cattle inventory of the state.
The number of smaller production units is rising and has an impact on all areas of agriculture.
Almost every city and town in Texas is surrounded by a multitude of small tracts of land (5 to 100 acres) owned by individuals who work in the city but use the land as their principal or weekend residence.
Collectively, these small acreage landowners account for thousands of acres.
As land values rise, fewer producers can afford to farm large sections of land.
Large sections are broken up into smaller plots and sold at higher prices; some are kept in agricultural production and continue to contribute to the economic base.
Individuals farm these smaller acreage for different reasons, whether it be business, occupation, lifestyle, recreation or for the agricultural land tax evaluation.
Regardless of the reason, if you are a landowner, you are a manager.
Not all land management ventures are successful; it takes proper planning and setting of goals.
An agriculture land manager also needs to be knowledgeable in many areas including natural resource conservation, animal and forage management, marketing and risk management.
With the rise of small-land ownership combined with the ever-changing agriculture industry, these land managers will be challenged to stay productive and maintain conservation ethics, while enjoying the benefits of working the land.
The Denton County Beef, Crops and Forages Committee in conjunction with the Texas AgriLife Extension is offering a series of five classes titled "Agriculture 101 for Small Landowners" during September and October at the Denton County Extension Office.
The series will cover the basics of agriculture and how to maintain an agriculture property evaluation, weed and brush control, forage and livestock management, soil fertility and management, and pond management.
Registration deadline for the series, which costs $30 to attend, is Thursday.
For more information or to enroll, call 940-349-2880 or e-mail Pamela.Hill@dentoncounty.com.
EDDIE BAGGS, extension agent with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Denton County, can be reached at 940-349-2880.