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Stephen J. “Tio” Kleberg to Receive National Golden Spur Award on Oct. 5 

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Stephen J. “Tio” Kleberg of Kingsville, Texas, has been selected as the 2024 National Golden Spur recipient for his contributions to the ranching and livestock industries. Kleberg will receive the National Golden Spur Award at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center in Lubbock, Texas, during the annual National Golden Spur Award Honors on Saturday, October 5.

“The National Golden Spur Award is the most prestigious national honor given by the ranching and livestock industries to one person,” explained Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the Ranching Heritage Association and National Ranching Heritage Center. “As the 46th recipient, Tio Kleberg continues the tradition of excellence that characterizes National Golden Spur Award honorees.”

Presentation of the National Golden Spur Award is a joint annual recognition given by six of the leading state and national ranching and livestock organizations: the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, Ranching Heritage Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Farm Bureau, and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

Kleberg served as the vice president of agricultural operations for the legendary King Ranch from 1971-1998. He then served on the board of directors of King Ranch, Inc. from 1998 until 2021. During his more than 50 years of service to King Ranch, Kleberg revitalized the American Quarter Horse breeding program, contributed to the development of the Santa Cruz breed of cattle and implemented sweeping wildlife conservation efforts. 

“As the manager of the livestock operations at the family’s King Ranch Properties in South Texas, Tio made a tremendous contribution to the Quarter Horse breed by introducing the services of Buster Welch and the stallions Mr. San Peppy and Peppy San Badger to the extremely talented band of King Ranch mares,” said Red Steagall, the 2018 recipient of the National Golden Spur Award. “The King Ranch horses took control of the equine industry for several years. Those bloodlines continue to influence the Quarter Horse breed today.” 

In addition to his contributions to the success of King Ranch, Kleberg tirelessly served the ranching and livestock industries. A longtime director of the American Quarter Horse Association, Kleberg served as one of the youngest AQHA presidents in 1985. He was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 1997. Kleberg was also a director for the National Cutting Horse Association and the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.  

Kleberg’s commitment to wildlife conservation is legendary, having served on the boards of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute and the East Foundation. Kleberg has been recognized by his peers with multiple awards, including being recognized with the Texas Tech University distinguished alumni award, and by both the Texas House and Senate with resolutions recognizing his contributions to Texas agriculture. Kleberg received an honorary doctorate from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He was honored with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity Legion of Honor award in 2015.  

“Tio was a cowboy first and then became a cowman, a horseman and, ultimately, the leader of the agribusiness operations for King Ranch, where he became the face of King Ranch throughout his tenure,” said Jay Evans, who worked for Kleberg at King Ranch and now manages Bridwell Ranches. “I can best describe his character and values by pulling from the cowboy/western culture code, which is summarized as strong faith, honesty, fairness, loyalty, hospitality, a deep respect for the land and its animals and a rock-solid work ethic and being a man of his word.” 

“Tio, by his own words, always wanted to be a cowboy,” said Steve Stevens of Houston, Texas. “He represents the fifth generation to have lived and worked on King Ranch. Following graduation from Texas Tech University and service as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Tio was heavily involved in the management of all operations of King Ranch, including serving as a member of the board of directors. He has been successful in achieving his goal of working on the ranch to service in the board room.” 

Sponsorship packages for the National Golden Spur Award Honors, including table sponsorships, are currently available. Individual tickets for the National Golden Spur Award Honors will go on sale to the public August 8. For event details, visit goldenspurhonors.com

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Farm & Ranch

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

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By Rayford Pullen | [email protected]

As we prepare to enter the seventh month of the year, it is unbelievable how wonderful our weather and rains have been as it relates to forage production. If history holds true, 75 percent of our forage production for the year will occur by July 15 when the dog days of summer set in with decreased rainfall and higher temperatures, which not only limit growth but quality as well.

But up until now, it has been a wonderful ride when the weather and the cattle markets are figured together. As July makes it appearance, we see hay supplies very adequate and our stock water in earthen tanks in great shape.

Our cows have been breeding back and the calves are growing like a weed while our pastures are recovering from the lingering drought from the past two years. In combination with our weed control, our pastures are on the fast road to recovery.

To read more, pick up a copy of the July issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Land Market Report: May Land Sales

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By Jared Groce

We have been praying for rain for a long time, and now we have it. Our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered so badly from the terrible storms in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma so far this year. These tragedies remind us that we can lose it all in just a matter of seconds.

The rural land market has been predictably unpredictable this election year, as it is every four years. The political uncertainty of an election year has a history of making the real estate market “odd” during the election year, and it is typically alleviated the day after the election – regardless of who wins. While there are certainly transactions taking place, it seems to be varied in location, size of tracts, and price per acre with no rhyme or reason.

To read more, pick up a copy of the July issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Ranch Biosecurity

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By Barry Whitworth, DVM

With beef, pork, and poultry exports playing a vital role in the economic health of livestock operations, producers need to understand the dangers that foreign animal diseases and other diseases may have on the viability of their operations.

The recent discovery of Influenza A H5N1 virus in dairy cattle demonstrates the vulnerability of livestock operations to disease events. Sick animals are not the only consequence of a disease outbreak. The economic cost associated with disease can be high. Also, in foreign animal disease outbreaks, export markets can be temporarily lost. Currently, Columbia has restricted fresh/frozen beef and beef products from states with dairy herds testing positive for Avian Influenza. The best defense against these threats is a good biosecurity plan.

To read more, pick up a copy of the June issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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