Sophisticated genetics programs and marketing initiatives have bred unmatched success for Texas cattle producers and breeders as they meet increasing demand from an expanding global market.
Among those who have played key roles is a soft-spoken native of Ballinger, Texas – Juan Hernandez, a retired Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) specialist in international livestock marketing and a 25-year member of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s International Committee.
“Juan Hernandez’s impact on Texas’ purebred cattle industry is legendary,” said Dana Lewis, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Farm and Ranch Club. For nearly 40 years, Hernandez’s involvement has ranged from conducting hundreds of foreign trade missions to arranging sales of cattle genetics between foreign buyers and ranches across Texas.
For those reasons and more, the Farm and Ranch Club will honor Hernandez with the 2018 W.A. “Bill” King Award at the Stock Show’s Jan. 18 Livestock Appreciation Day luncheon at Will Rogers Memorial Center. Keynote speaker will be another legendary personality with Fort Worth ties – CBS national journalist Bob Schieffer.
The award, named after the Farm & Ranch Club founder in 1950, recognizes a business, individual or family for significant contributions to agriculture or the agribusiness industry.
“I’m very humbled to receive the King Award,” Hernandez said. “I’ve always tried to do as my father, Manuel, told me: If you do a job for someone, do it well.”
That was true for Hernandez throughout his high school years in Ballinger where he fell in love with farming and ranching. He was a four-year member of the Future Farmers of America, earning a number of awards and serving as district president during his senior year.
From there, Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Tarleton State University and a master’s degree in education. He went on to a 34-year career with TDA.
“Being bilingual helped,” he said, as he focused on taking Texas and foreign delegations to livestock shows in Mexico and other countries.
The Stock Show, which runs Jan. 12-Feb. 3, is a particularly powerful draw among foreign beef producers and breeders, Hernandez said, because they hold Texas livestock and genetics programs in such high regard.
“Texas is the No. 1 state in beef production,” he said, with 4.4 million head of cattle, according to the USDA. “We have genetics programs that international guests are looking for and all of the breeds they want.
“There are around 80 breeds in the U.S., depending on who you talk to, and you find most of them in Texas,” Hernandez said, along with top show-winning bulls that are vital for the improved beef production sought especially in markets such as Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Canada, all of which make up about 70 percent of the United States’ beef export market valued at $6.3 billion in 2016 (U.S. Meat Export Federation).
For more information on the Fort Worth Chamber Farm & Ranch Club, email Rosalind Sullivan or call 817-338-3383.