Gov. Perry's Remarks at the Family Land Heritage Ceremony
*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Thank you, Ron [Oliveira, KEYE-TV].
I want to thank you all for inviting me here today and letting me celebrate the importance of family land with you.
It's great to gather with the kind of folks I grew up with the hardworking people who feed our state, our nation and our world with the work of their hands.
There is nothing quite like the family farm or ranch, especially in Texas. These places connect us to the land, to our heritage, and to God's creation in a way that can be hard to explain.
Growing up in the cotton fields of West Texas, I got the rhythm of the seasons in my blood, the agricultural work ethic in my heart, and more than a little dirt under my fingernails.
Sometimes that dirt blew into my eyes as dust when the rains stayed away longer than we expected.
The rural life is a tough life, but it is also rich with beauties that city folk rarely see.
Besides the faces of my wife and children, I have seen few things as beautiful as a cotton field in the springtime, painted bright green by our Creator's hand, reminding us of our limited influence in the grand scheme of things.
These humbling lessons are not so easily learned in today's world where the average child is insulated from manual labor, distracted by constant entertainment, and soothed by ever-present air conditioning.
The folks in this room, along with your ancestors and your children, have been blessed by the immediacy of your relationship with the earth and the lessons that it teaches.
We are grateful to count so many sons and daughters of the land in our state's 24 million people.
Your steadfast presence is a stabilizing influence and a reminder of values that have lost their foothold in some parts of our society.
In the tapestry of our state's history, the bright splashes of color are provided by the outlaws, the wildcatters and speculators.
But the strength of that fabric comes from the families like yours who so patiently endure the elements and the challenges of rural life.
Our state has 230,000 farms and ranches, with folks like you coaxing food and other useful products out of more than 130 million acres.
From Palestine in East Texas to Athens to the West, from Hereford in the Panhandle to San Benito to the South, we are a state built on the sturdy shoulders of hardworking farmers and ranchers.
As I look back over my own life, I am perhaps most fond of my time spent in the world of agriculture, both as a farmer and as Commissioner.
During my tenure in that office, I looked forward to the Family Land Heritage event because it gave me a chance to look the solid citizens of our state right in the eye and reconnect with their work ethic and worldview.
Since 1974, Texas has honored about 4,400 farms and ranches for maintaining their heritage and agricultural production for 100 years or more.
That represents a whole lot of plowing, fertilizing, inoculating and branding.
It also includes a lot of mornings started before sun-up, knuckles bloodied when the wrench slips on a bolt, and Sunday suppers with several generations of family.
Your land is more than your livelihood, it is your life. And we salute the grip you have maintained on it.
I believe that land ownership is one of those essential Texas values, a value that I am firmly committed to defending.
That is why I worked with the legislature to pass a joint resolution that prohibits the government from using eminent domain to give your land to a private developer.
You might have seen the Kelo case a few years back, where the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington ruled that local authorities could take a person's land for private use.
Just between us, the folks in the robes were flat-out wrong on that one.
Thanks to this resolution, you'll be able to vote on a constitutional amendment this November to make that impossible in Texas.
If you want to be the first one to vote for that amendment, you'll have to beat me to the polling place.
To all of our honorees here today, I want to congratulate you for representing the most enduring values of our state and commend you for your longevity.
Congratulations on your heritage and thank you for all you do to feed our state, our nation and our world.
May God bless you and your family with at least another hundred years of ownership, productivity and family togetherness and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.