J Allen Carnes, the only farmer with his hat in the ring for state agricultural commissioner, said he’s running for the post because it “fits my background.”
Carnes, mayor of Uvalde, announced his candidacy in early September and was in Killeen on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to “get out and see all areas of Texas.”
Carnes said the state’s biggest issue is that it’s losing agricultural land faster than any other state in the nation.
“Couple that with the average age of ranchers and farmers being 59 years old and the largest group is over 70,” he said. “That is where our food and fiber sources come from.”
The state is losing agricultural land for two reasons: Urban encroachment due to population growth and farming is “not the easiest life plan” due to state regulations.
“It’s hard work and we have seen a lot of changes through the years that has made it tougher,” Carnes said.
His goal is to create an atmosphere that attracts younger generations coming out of college who have an agricultural background to return to, he said.
“It’s highly important, not just for the farmers and ranchers themselves, but for the whole state,” Carnes said. “We need to create an atmosphere that entices them to stay in it for the long haul because it is our food and fiber source in this state. We’re one of the only places in the world that can say that we are really food and fiber independent.”
Carnes grew up on a farm and ranch and now owns an agricultural business, Winter Garden Produce of Uvalde, which ships cabbage, broccoli, onions, cotton and grains throughout the state and across the nation.
The primary election for state agricultural commissioner, which enforces agricultural laws, is March 4.