Many hungry families in Central Texas enjoyed beef this past summer as a result of a Fayette County rancher’s big heart for charity and conservation.
David Brooks, who owns the DDV Ranch, between La Grange and Schulenburg, with his wife, Darlene, and daughter, Tori, donated more than 23 head of cattle—more than 7,000 pounds of beef—to feed needy families.
Brooks has been working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement conservation on the ranch since 2005.
Last summer, Brooks saw the drought take its toll on available forage and water on his ranch, just like other ranchers throughout Texas. With no end to the extreme weather in sight, he visited with Glen Minzenmeyer of NRCS and Milton Koenning of the Fayette Soil and Water Conservation District to see what would be the best option for his land and cattle.
NRCS had already worked with Brooks to develop a conservation plan that included practices such as rotational grazing, cross-fencing, and nutrient and pest management. To supplement these practices, and to protect forage from overgrazing—a common problem during droughts—Minzenmeyer recommended decreasing his herd size from 60 head.
With hay prices skyrocketing and auction barns overloaded with cattle, Brooks wasn’t sure what was best to do with the cattle he culled. When Minzenmeyer recommended donating them to food pantries, Brooks realized it was the perfect solution.
“I have been active in helping people most of my life,” he says, “from mission work in Cuba to serving on the mission board at church that helps in disaster response.”
After the cattle were slaughtered and cut up by a local meat processor, the meat was sent to local food pantries and churches with food donation programs.
Each year NRCS staff across the U.S. participate in the annual federal food drive called “Feds Feed Families.” Because Texas NRCS staff worked with Brooks on his cattle donation, the 7,000 pounds of donated beef counted toward NRCS’ national total of 1.8 million pounds of food donated to food banks, food pantries, charities and organizations across the country.
Follow NRCS on Twitter.
Check out other conservation-related stories on the USDA blog.