Adam Torres and Dan Hunter discuss Texas FFA in Texas.
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Texas FFA has given back to the State of Texas through the years by giving opportunities to future leaders through scholarships, education and leadership opportunities. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Dan Hunter, Assistant Commissioner at Texas Department of Agriculture. Explore the Texas FFA and what it has meant in his life personally and to the State of Texas.
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About Dan Hunter
Dan Hunter serves as the Assistant Commissioner for the Texas Department of Agriculture. He is the top advisor on the critical issues of the economy, trade, and water. He oversees matters on U.S. policy and the important role it plays in agriculture and the Texas economy. He also provides direct oversight on programs involving rural affairs, including rural health care and marketing. Hunter directs the International Marketing Programs for Texas Agriculture.
He currently serves on the Board of the Texas Wine Advisory Committee and the Texas Olive Oil Advisory Board. He also serves on the Ag Workers Insurance Advisory Board. Hunter has served on numerous international trade, commodity, policy advisory committees.
Hunter has an extensive background in agriculture, trade, research, water, and policy development. Prior to his current position he served as Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) and an adjunct professor at Tarleton State University.
Prior to joining the Institute, he was the Executive Officer of the Southwestern Peanut Growers’ Association. Earlier in his professional career he served as the Government Relations Representative for the National Cotton Council association in Washington, DC. He also worked as a primary legislative staff member for former Congressmen Larry Combest and Fred Grandy.
Hunter received degrees from Texas Tech University, where he was recently honored as Outstanding Alumnus, Tarleton State University, and Western Texas College. He has written numerous articles for several publications, and provided testimony for legislative and regulatory committees. Additionally, he has given presentations around the world including the United Nations Foreign Agriculture Organization in Rome. Hunter has conducted business as an official U.S. and Texas Representative, and for private companies on every continent except Antarctica.
The Texas Legislature established the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) in 1907. The agency’s key objectives are to promote production agriculture, consumer protection, economic development and healthy living. The agriculture commissioner oversees the agency and is elected every four years. The current commissioner, Sid Miller, was first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018 and 2022.
TDA is a diversified state agency that provides value-added services through our regulatory and marketing and initiatives. TDA is headquartered in Austin and has five regional service offices, two sub-offices, three laboratories and five livestock export facilities.
TDA’s mission is to partner with all Texans to make Texas the nation’s leader in agriculture, fortify our economy, empower rural communities, promote healthy lifestyles, and cultivate winning strategies for rural, suburban and urban Texas through exceptional service and the common threads of agriculture in our daily lives.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres and I’m so happy and proud to announce that I’m in Dallas, Texas covering the Texas F F A Convention, and I have Dan Hunter with me today. He is the Assistant Commissioner for the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Dan, welcome to the show. Great to be here. Appreciate you having me. All right, Dan. So, um, I look at this, first off, I, I, a shameless plug. Yeah. Walked in with the room with this. Come on. I did, I brought it to him. We have, uh, we have a book that I’m so proud to say that we’ve done with, uh, we’ve, we’ve, uh, done with the Texas F F A Foundation and where we’re featuring, um, leaders in Texas and really trying to showcase and get the message out about the Texas F F A, not just in Texas, but outside mainstream news, mainstream America.
We want people to know what’s happening here. So first off, hey, I just wanna say thank you for coming on the show again, and I’m excited to get into Texas f f a today. Same here. All right, so just to get us kicked off mm-hmm. Where did, where did it begin for you? Like, how did you learn about Texas f f a originally?
So, I, I probably learned when I was, um, in elementary school, uh, began with the fact that I had an older brother and an older sister that were both involved in F F A, and of course went through the. The program and showing animals and things like that with them. And then, uh, as I got into high school, uh, of course was a, a part of the f f A chapter there in my hometown of Roscoe, Texas, which is out in the middle of, uh, kind of nowhere West Texas.
But, uh, had the opportunity there to, uh, get involved in leadership, uh, you know, and, and was a district officer, was an area officer, and then eventually was a state F f a officer as well. So, uh, from my standpoint, you know, the F F A was. Gave me lots of tools in my toolbox to be able to, to take on the things that come to you at life and, and very exciting, you know, from the standpoint that when you think back on those days and what you learned and, and those people are still the most impactful folks that you’ve ever met in your, in your life, what was it like growing up in a Texas f f a family?
Sure. Family, uh, in my case, yeah. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a very interesting story. You know, we had, uh, like I said, a a, an older brother, an older sister, and at the time my sister was one of the, F you know, one of the few F female F FFA members. Wow. I mean, we’re talking, uh, you know, early seventies. Mm-hmm. And, uh, you know, in 69 was when F F A had started admitting, uh, uh, girls into the, into the organization.
She was certainly the first one in our hometown. Mm. And, uh, and you know, once again, very active, uh, comes to find out she, uh, goes on to college and becomes the first female ag teacher in the state of Texas. What? Yeah. And so, uh, you know, I had the privilege of, of, you know, watching that transpire my transpired.
Mm-hmm. My brother was also a, uh, an f f A advisor. Uh, he just retired after over 44 years. Wow. And so, F F A not only ran. You know, early in my life. But it ran through all of our lives and through their whole careers. And, uh, and then after my sister taught at several schools, she went on to be a, a professor at Charleston State University and trained many of the ag teachers that are down here today.
Yeah. And so it’s been, it’s been one of those adventures for me that was, like you said, a family adventure, but I also got to watch some. Some history on vote. Well, I’ll tell you, um, this is my second convention and I’m already, I’m already signing up for, for the, for the third one. I’m telling you, I’m hooked.
Every time I come to convention, I see like this sea of just blue jackets, right? And every, anytime somebody’s talking about, you know, the future or our kids or what’s next or where the country’s going, I’m like, Hey. Come to a Texas F F A convention, like we’re in good hands. Our future leaders are walking through these doors and they’re wearing blue jackets right now.
They definitely are. And you know, when I look back on, on my career and the opportunities that the F F A provided to me, uh, you know, like I said, not only being involved in leadership, but also being involved, I. And projects and things like that. It made the biggest difference in the world, in, in my life.
And as my, my career progressed, you know, I look back on everything that, that has transpired in my lifetime. Uh, when I, when I finished, uh, my bachelor’s degree at Texas Tech, I went to Washington, DC and spent about the next 10 years, there’re working for a couple different members of Congress. Mm-hmm.
Worked for. Uh, as a lobbyist for the, for the National Cotton Council, uh, became c e o for a commodity group, and then, uh, worked actually as a, as an adjunct professor and also headed up a large research institute that had projects around the world. Um, you know, when I, I think back on what that sea of blue did for me Yeah.
And the energy that it provided and, and the guidance that it gave me, and the realization that opportunity is there for the take. Uh, you, once you realize the opportunities that are involved with F F A, it helps you realize where also are opportunities involved in life. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate, uh, for, like I said, grew up in the middle of nowhere, uh, had the opportunity.
I’ve been, uh, I’ve been on every continent in the world, at least twice. Uh, been around the world several times. I’ve had the opportunity to meet kings and Queens and PS and, uh, you know, all different kinds of leaders from around the world. You know, recently I was speaking to a group and I told ’em, I said, you know, I just got back, uh, from Dubai, which is where the Birch Klif is, which is the tallest building in the world.
And I realized that that year, in the last year, I’ve been on the top, top three tallest buildings in the world. And I got to thinking about that. How did a kid from Roscoe, Texas get here? And it all points back to one thing, and that’s what’s going on in this building today. And that’s the f f A. Had it not been for the F F A, I would not have been able to take advantage of the things that came to me throughout my lifetime and the opportunities that were presented to me.
Uh, one of the things that, that in addition to leadership and that F F A teaches you, it also teaches you discipline. Mm-hmm. It teaches you the courtesy of how to treat others. Yeah. And that to me is one of the most important things that we can do. As citizens as F f A members, uh, in the workplace is know how we treat oth others and, uh, in, in the respect that we give others and what they do.
Talk to me a little bit about your role at the, uh, Texas Department of Agriculture Sure. And what you do there. So essentially, you know, I serve as assistant commissioner. I oversee multitudes of different programs. I have the, uh, with my legislative background, of course, work on both state and federal legislative issues.
Uh, oversee the marketing division, which includes not only our. Uh, our, our Go Texan program, which is one of the biggest branded marketing programs, not only in the United States, but also in the world. Wow. Uh, and then I get to see over oversee our international marketing. So we’ll be this year, I think in 23 or 24 different countries, uh, marketing Texas products around the world, which to be quite honest, uh, People love Texas.
You know, you go anywhere in the world and, uh, you know, people say, oh, you’re doing, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got a tough sales job. And I go, no, I’ve got the easy sales job in the world. ’cause I can go anywhere in the world and I don’t care whether I’m in the, you know, in the Pacific or if I’m in, you know, in Europe or if I’m in Africa.
You can tell people at any time, yeah, you know that you’re from Texas and they know where it’s, and they wanna buy it, and they want a piece of that. They want a piece of, of whatever they visualize, whether it’s the western, you know, heritage or whether it’s the cowboy image or whether it’s just the quality of the product.
So, uh, I get the opportunity to, to spend time taking Texas worldwide, as we say. So you have a unique vantage point obviously, because you’ve, you grew up in a, I would say a, a pivotal Texas f f A family. I mean, with your sister’s background. With your background, I mean, you got, you have lineage there. Yes.
Um, first off, second off, you’ve traveled the world. Mm-hmm. I mean, you’ve been, every continent. So what does Texas f f a mean to the state of Texas? Sure, no doubt. As you mentioned earlier, this is where leaders begin for, for, for the future. Uh, when you see people who are heads of companies, when you see people who have been successful, whether it’s in a, in a, you know, media career or whether it’s, uh, in a business.
There’s a good chance that at some point in their life, they, they ran into the F ffa or the F FFA ran into them. And I can’t get in an Uber, I’ll tell you, I can’t go in an Uber, I can’t have a, a sip of water. I can’t go to a grocery store. People are like, oh, what are you doing? Or they, I, I mean, maybe I don’t look like, ’cause I have an Italian, it’s a hundred, it’s a hundred degrees outside.
They obviously know that I’m not walking down the street. Right. And they’re like, what are you doing? I’m going to convention. And they’re like, convention. Which one? Oh f f a, like Texas. Every single person, they have a story. They have a uncle, they have somebody that’s been part of it. Like I, you can’t walk around the corner without somebody talking about Oh, that’s, that’s exactly right.
And I think that’s one of the things that Texas F f a has specifically done, uh, they’ve been very successful in, in not only creating that image and things that people realize, but also creating the opportunities out there. Of, yeah. But you know, when you talk about the, the, the number of scholarships that are giving mm-hmm.
When you look at the businesses, uh, that have F F A members or past F F A members involved, it’s tremendous. And why is that? Mm-hmm. Because they do such a great job of training young people mm-hmm. And inspiring young people. And when you walk out of a convention like this and you see the. The incredible things that these folks do, uh, on a, on a grand scale and, and bigger than anywhere else in the United States.
You know, uh, the success here is tremendous, and we see that time and time again, not only in our leadership, you know, here, but around the world. So I want you to talk for a moment to the, to the executives out there. A lot of, lot of business owners, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of executives out there that watch this show.
And I cover a lot of conferences, right? So everything from Milken Conference till we cover global conferences. And I’m always interested in some of the magic of why outside corporations, companies, other things should support a particular conference or an organization. So speaking specifically right to the business leaders out there and the decision makers, like why should they get involved with Texas F f A and support if they’re not already doing it?
I guess the number one thing I would, I’d look in on and say is, do you care about the future of the world? Because what you were seeing here is the. The beginning of the leadership for the next generation. This is something that is a legacy. You have an opportunity to do lots of things in your life, but to leave a legacy is, is one of the greatest things you can do.
And that legacy is creating leaders of the future. If you can say, I had a small part in it, or I had a big part in it, then you’ve do, you’ve done something that will change not only people’s lives. But also has the ability to change the world. And so when you think about all the different things that you can sponsor, uh, there’s no doubt that investing in the future, leadership of Texas, the future leadership of the United States and the future leadership of the world, there’s not a better place to put a dollar.
Ah, well said. Well, Dan, I just wanna say really appreciate you making some time for us to come on the show. Um, I look forward to hearing more about Texas f f a from some of the other individuals coming on, but it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for bringing out congratulations on the book. Thank you for bringing out the book.
Oh, there we go. So Dan, uh, really appreciate you coming on the show. Thanks again. Good to be here. Thank you very much. All right. Appreciate it.