Other Voices

Texas Tech veterinary school needed for cattle ranchers, consumers, state

Cattle ranching in Texas is big business. It’s been part of our state’s heritage from the beginning, a mainstay for the Texas economy, and, at the Bonds Ranch, our family’s lifeblood for generations.

Fort Worth also has a long history with cattle ranching, so it’s only fitting the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association chose it as the place for its annual convention.

Happening this weekend, the Cattle Raisers Convention & Expo is the state’s largest ranching event, bringing thousands to Fort Worth to learn the latest in the cattle-raising and ranching world.

As a lifelong TSCRA member and past president, this event is always on my calendar because, if there’s any organization set to assess the long-term viability of the cattle industry, it’s this group.

It’s also an opportunity to address pressing industry issues, and right now, there are clear challenges facing our ranchers, producers and landowners.

One of these issues has been the severe shortage of veterinarians in Texas.

A significant factor to surviving in this business is having solid partnerships with veterinarians. Raising cattle is tough work, and it gets tougher when you don’t have trustworthy and knowledgeable veterinarians to help care for your herds.

We’ve been fortunate to work with many veterinarians over the years. All are vital to our operations, and their role has become even more crucial to ensuring the beef we provide across the state, nation and world is safe.

As a second-generation rancher, I run cattle with my family in rural communities all over Texas. From Marlin to Canadian, our turkey-foot brand is on cattle in upward of 30 counties, so we don’t just understand the need for more veterinarians, we live it.

While our headquarters is in Saginaw, we ranch all over the U.S. The need for more veterinarians isn’t limited to Texas. It’s an issue for rural America and ranchers across our country.

That’s why I believe in and support Texas Tech’s vision for a veterinary school in Amarillo. For a state as big as Texas, which leads the nation in cattle production, it only makes sense to add a second veterinary school to support our growing demands.

My daughter, Missy, is not only a double graduate of Texas Tech, receiving her bachelor’s in ag economics and master’s in ruminant nutrition, she has been a member of the university’s steering committee to help develop its veterinary program.

Knowing the quality education Texas Tech provides and the longstanding excellence Texas Tech has in agricultural research, I am confident our industry will benefit from the veterinarians Texas Tech will graduate.

There are many innovative aspects of Texas Tech’s veterinary school. It plans to recruit and enroll students who want to serve in rural and agricultural communities. Its curriculum is designed to prepare students in real-world settings by training in veterinary clinics and in the field. Most importantly, it’s built from the ground up with input from industry leaders and veterinarians to address real needs and issues.

That’s also why TSCRA, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and many other organizations support Texas Tech’s veterinary school.

I’m a proud graduate of Texas Christian University and I’m also a proud supporter of Texas A&M. Both are great universities. But my affiliation with these universities doesn’t prevent me from supporting another. Nor does support for one university detract from another.

Bottom line, what’s good for the cattle industry is good for Texas. Texas Tech establishing a veterinary school is needed, and is without a doubt good for our industry, and every one of our consumers.

I urge our Texas Legislature to fund this program and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to approve it.

Mr. Pete Bonds is a second-generation cattle rancher who owns the Bonds Ranch, which is a commercial cow/calf, stocker and feeding beef cattle operation headquartered in Saginaw and raises American Quarter horses.