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The original item was published from 11/4/2016 3:48:28 PM to 11/22/2016 12:00:02 AM.

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Posted on: November 4, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Texas Agriculture Memorial Day will honor farmers, ranchers

Nominations for three categories are being sought for the November 21st Inaugural Ceremony

By Julie Tomascik
Associate Editor, Texas Farm Bureau 

Article reposted with permission from the Ellis County Farm Bureau.  

A Texas farm family looks to honor farmers and ranchers through the Texas Agriculture Memorial Day, an idea that grew out of personal experience. 
John Paul and Heather Dineen of Waxahachie have organized the memorial day and the inaugural ceremony set for later this month.  Gov. Greg Abbott has declared Nov. 21 as the Texas Agriculture Memorial Day. It is a day to remember the lives of the state’s farmers and ranchers in their efforts to raise food, fiber and fuel for Texas families.

“I found out, after doing some research, that there wasn’t anything like this. There was no day dedicated to this,” John Paul said. “I really felt like when a quarterback hands you the ball. I felt like God handed the ball and said ‘Now run with this.’”
The couple, who are Ellis County Farm Bureau members, know the personal suffering of losing a family member in a farm accident about 10 years ago.  Johnny, the Dineens’ five-year-old son, had gone with John Paul to the field where they were baling hay for a customer.  “Johnny decided he didn’t want to be in the tractor for a little bit. He wanted to stay with the other guys at the barn,” Heather said.

During that time, the customer—the owner of the farm they were working on—came to check the progress.  “Johnny was standing with the other two adults and they decided they needed to go get oil or something from one of the other barns, and the owner was driving his truck. He wasn’t able to see our son because he was five,” Heather said. “In the course of doing that and not being able to see and trying to get to the barn to get supplies, he ran over our son. Johnny was killed there at the barnyard.”

It was a tragedy that left the Dineens struggling with grief and farming decisions.  But the fatal accident cultivated a legacy for the family—one of farm safety awareness and education.  “It caused us to look at other things, and ways to tell our story,” Heather said. “And hopefully other families would not experience the same thing we did.”  Sharing their story is part of their healing process.  “It’s not an easy thing to do all the time. Sometimes there are just triggers that go. Memories or you see things or certain equipment. It kind of opens those emotions again,” John Paul said. “But we feel it’s important to be honest and real with the folks when we have those conversations.”

Their efforts have led them to create the Texas Agriculture Memorial Day.  They’ve worked with Abbott and the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education to make this recognition possible.  Each year, there will be a nomination and application process to add names of honorees to the memorial through three categories—memorial, honor and memorial service.

The memorial list is for those who have lost their life while engaged in agricultural-related pursuits such as working livestock, transporting agricultural goods or operating or in the vicinity of machinery.  The honor list is for those who have had a severely debilitating accident—loss of eyesight or limb(s), paralysis or deafness—while engaged in agricultural-related pursuits.

Those who lost their life in a non-agricultural accident but had an active role in an agricultural operation are honored in the memorial service category. This includes individuals who farmed, ranched or had a career in agriculture but passed away due to natural causes or fishing and ATV accidents.

Nominations for the three categories are being accepted online at

 An inaugural ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 21 in the Texas State Capitol auditorium. Gov. Abbott will read a proclamation and the families of the 2016 honorees will be awarded certificates signed by Abbott.  “We are doing what we felt God called us to do,” John Paul said.

The couple notes future plans for the Texas Agriculture Memorial Day include a website and an interactive kiosk located in the Agricultural Museum in the state Capitol. The kiosk will include a list of the honorees, as well as safety education and accident prevention information.

To help with the project, individuals can contribute tax-deductible donations. The Texas Farm Bureau Agriculture Research and Education Foundation will collect funds on behalf of the Texas Agriculture Memorial. Checks should be made out to TFB Agriculture Research and Education Foundation. Texas Agriculture Memorial should be noted on the check and sent to the attention of Cyndi Gerik, Texas Farm Bureau, P.O. Box 2689, Waco, Texas 76702-2689.

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