Agriculture is a pillar in the local and regional economy, which the Levelland Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee hopes to highlight on its Ag Awareness Tour, set Friday, November 5.
The tour is free to those who want to participate and will begin at 7 a.m. at South Plains Implement with breakfast.
Following breakfast, participants will board a bus and travel to various agricultural sites throughout Hockley County to learn about the many aspects of the agricultural industry in Levelland and Hockley County.
Mary Siders, president of the Levelland Chamber of Commerce, said one of the goals of the Ag Committee is to raise awareness of the significance of the ag industry in the area, along with its impact on the local economy.
The tour will take participants to various agriculture businesses for tours, as well, including Penny Newman Grain and Enviro Tech at the Levelland Industrial Rail Park.
“Many local consumers don’t know what those large buildings are along Highway 114 and what they represent or what they do,” Siders said.
The tour will also take participants to United Cotton Growers Gin on FM 1585 where they will tour the gin and hear from representatives.
“Although many of us reside with cotton in our backyard, not many of us know the process from seed to end product,” Siders said.
Participants will get to tour Ag Products, a business that provides supplies for producers and other ag businesses.
Doug Hoelscher, chair of the Ag Committee, said the committee’s goal is to show individuals how nearly every job and business in Hockley County is affected by local industries.
“Pretty much every job here in this county depends on either agriculture or oil,” Hoelscher said. “They either service them directly or take care of people who take care of those sectors.”
Hoelscher said there is a common misconception among the general public that the agriculture industry only refers to producers.
“There is a lot more to it than just farmers,” Hoelscher said. “The producers are getting larger all the time…we know there are fewer producers, but there are more people who support these producers.”
Hoelscher said the Ag Committee also invites the local officers for FFA from Hockley and Cochran counties, with a goal of showing them the many opportunities available in the agriculture sector.
“We invite our young leaders in agriculture to join the tour because we want to recruit them,” Hoelscher said. “We want good people in those positions and we’re trying to recruit those young leaders and show them the opportunities that are available in agriculture.”
Hoelscher said he hopes people who aren’t directly related to the agriculture industry participate in the tour, to not only see the impact it has, but to also learn about the processes involved in the industry.
“Ideally, people who work in schools or banks because they see these people and know they’re involved in agriculture, but might not know exactly what it is they do,” Hoelscher said. “We hope they come out and see the impact agriculture has on our county and our economy.”
Those who participate in the tour will have a greater awareness for the local agriculture industry, and possibly a new appreciation for those who work in it, Hoelscher said.
“They’ll take away an awareness of the impact of agriculture and just how big it is and how many people it effects and influences,” Hoelscher said. “Hopefully this serves as an eye-opener for the many major businesses we have here in this county.”
The tour will begin at 7 a.m. with participants meeting at South Plains Implement, located at 601 E. Highway 114, for breakfast. Siders said this will give the business an opportunity to showcase its new building that was recently constructed.
Then, attendees will board the bus and will be accompanied by step-on tour guides, Kerry Siders and Wes Utley, both extension agents with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office.
Siders said everyone is encouraged to ride the bus because Kerry Siders and Utley will be giving information on local agriculture industries and businesses during the bus ride from place to place. It is also an opportunity for participants to ask any questions they might have about what they have seen or are about to see.
The group will then taketake a tour of Ag Products to learn about the local agriculture business that provides supplies to producers and other agriculture businesses.
Next, participants will travel to the Levelland Industrial Rail Park where they will tour Penny Newman Grain at 8:30 a.m. and Enviro Tech at 9:30 a.m.
The group will board the bus again and take a trip out to United Cotton Growers on FM 1585 where they will tour the gin and learn about the receiving cotton to processing it.
The tour will conclude with lunch at South Plains Implement, where they will hear from guest speakers Matt McDonald with the Levelland Compress, and David Drake with South Plains Implement.
The tour will end at 1:15 p.m. and is open to the public. Those interested in participating are asked to RSVP by calling the Levelland Chamber of Commerce at 894-3157.