Ron Smith

Southwest Farm Press

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

USDA enforcement power has far reach
USDA's enforcement teeth allows it to conduct search and seizure operations; apprehend suspects; investigate fraud, animal abuse and agro-terrorism; and investigate nutrition program fraud, among other duties.
Winners and losers as US weather patterns change
In the near term, an El Nino event likely will bring colder temperatures and more moisture into the Southwest. “The longer an El Nino remains, the wetter it will be,” says Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist.
First crop learning curve for young farmer
Connor Wilmeth, 20, is a junior plant and soil sciences major at Texas Tech University with “a passion to farm.” He secured a loan on his own this year and is growing cotton on 134 acres of leased land. He also helps his father, Matt, with 1,500 acres of mostly cotton near Ralls, Texas.
FFA travel broadens Seth Pratt's perspective
For a young man who had never traveled much, Seth Pratt has logged quite a few miles this year. Since assuming the role of vice president for the western region of the national Future Farmers of America organization, he has racked up more than 85,000 miles and visited 40 states, plus Japan and Brazil.
Estate planning crucial to farmers and ranchers
Farmers and ranchers who have not made arrangements for estate planning should run, not walk, to their tax advisors and determine if they should transfer assets to their heirs before year-end. Failure to do so could mean millions of dollars in estate taxes to those heirs, says Rob Gunther, Frost PLLC, Little Rock, Ark.
Oil, gas, fertilizer prices to remain high
Petroleum prices should remain high for the foreseeable future, while natural gas prices should remain low and electricity prices are likely to increase slowly. Demand is likely to remain high for nitrogen, potash and phosphorus fertilizers, but production costs will have much less impact than commodity prices
Agriculture key to closing US trade gap 3
Agriculture is leading the way toward narrowing the gap between what the U.S. buys from other countries and what it sells overseas.
Obama vs. Romney just too close to call
Polls change almost daily — sometimes with the news cycle, sometimes with a new set of campaign ads — justifying the opinion of election observers that the presidential race remains a “toss up,” and “too close to call.”
Commodity prices heading for bull market decade
A USDA Foreign Agricultural Service spokesman expects commodity prices to remain at historically high levels for the next decade.
Farm bill priorities: crop insurance and speed
Commodity groups don’t always agree on the specifics they want or need in a farm bill. What’s best for corn is not always best for livestock, and what’s best for cotton is not always what grain farmers prefer.
Produce market changing with times and technology
Consumers are changing the way they shop for food and are asking for more information about where products come from, how they are grown and how they will fit into the family’s menus.
Farm bill will happen, but when?
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is convinced that the nation’s farmers and ranchers will get a new farm bill. He stops short of predicting just when that will happen, however.
Farm labor options dwindling for US growers 6
Farmers, ranchers and others who need manual labor have limited options for a legal workforce, says a recruiter for the H2A and H2B guest worker programs. Less labor could mean more fruit and vegetable production moving offshore.
Reversing the American farm exodus
In 1945 the average age of the United States farmer was 39 years old. By 1974 that average had risen to 45 years. In 2007, our average farmer was 58, according to USDA figures. The trend continues as young people leave the farm to attend college and then pursue other careers—often looking for jobs with less risk, less stress and more financial reward.
Guest worker program needed to provide agriculture labor
The birth rate in Mexico is declining. And more workers are staying home, partly because of improved job prospects in some areas but also because of border violence and immigration crackdowns.
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