The East Texas Farm and Ranch Club will turn 70 years old this year. The club began in 1952, and over the years, has brought innovations to East Texas in an effort to promote agriculture.
The mission of the East Texas Farm and Ranch Club and Scholarship Fund Inc. is to promote the advancement of agriculture and agribusiness in East Texas. The club provides a forum for information and idea exchange and provides a networking atmosphere for area producers and agribusinesses. In addition, the club supports area youth and encourages youth involvement in agriculture-related activities. Each year the Farm and Ranch Club awards scholarships to deserving graduating seniors in the area. The club also provides assistance to the Smith County Junior Livestock Show and other agricultural education programs.
One innovation was bringing Coastal Bermuda grass to East Texas on a large scale from Tifton, Georgia, in 1955. Coastal Bermuda grass is a hybrid Bermuda grass released in 1943. In research tests performed in 1954, Coastal Bermuda grass, with half the normal rainfall, stayed green all summer, produced half as much as in a good year and yielded six times as much forage as common Bermuda grass. It was named “Coastal” for the experiment station where it was developed. It has become one of the most commonly planted forages in the South for hay and livestock production.
The club sponsors tours and offers educational programs and activities throughout the year. Interesting, relevant educational programs and activities are coordinated and offered at each of the monthly meetings. Tours include local farms, ranches and ag-related businesses in the area. Each year the club assists with the annual Smith County Hay Show and Auction at the East Texas State Fair in September.