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John Sharp talks Texas A&M, agriculture at Farm and Ranch Show

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 26, 2011 at 5:26 a.m.

John Sharp, chancellor of Texas A&M University and Placedo native, was speechless when someone played a recording of the Aggie War Hymn. Sharp was the keynote speaker at the Farm and Ranch Show.

John Sharp, chancellor of Texas A&M University and Placedo native, was speechless when someone played a recording of the Aggie War Hymn. Sharp was the keynote speaker at the Farm and Ranch Show.

John Sharp smiled out at an approximately 350-person crowd Wednesday. When he opened his mouth to speak, however, he didn't get far.

The Aggie War Hymn interrupted over loudspeakers, prompting claps from some, the "hook 'em horns" hand signal from others and red-faced laughter from Sharp.

Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, was the keynote lunch speaker at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show.

People might think they understand what the A&M System is about, Sharp said, but they don't. In fact, he didn't have any idea until about a month ago, when his term as chancellor began.

"It turns out, every day for me is like drinking water through a fire hose," he said of the learning curve. "And I've just scratched the surface. What is happening in the system is . just absolutely remarkable."

Ongoing research projects could have major impacts, he said.

Among others, Sharp noted a cotton variety that required so little water that morning dew could fulfill its needs, mobile clean rooms to assist with vaccine production and jet fuel created from algae.

Sharp went on to say Texas can expect significant change in 2014, when new locks open on the Panama Canal.

At that time, much cargo that currently ships from places such as China and Indonesia to the West Coast will, instead, come through the canal and into the Lone Star State. He cited the state's extensive rail lines, which can feed cargo to the rest of the country, as a major push for Texas.

Oil and gas supplies, an advancing agricultural industry and cattle and cotton add to the state's future outlook.

"I'm telling ya, God knew what he was doing when he put Texas where he did," Sharp said.

Victoria resident Allan Sklar said he attended the lunch presentation because he not only works in agriculture, but also because he has known Sharp since the chancellor was a young child.

"He's a good man," he said afterward. "I really enjoyed hearing about everything that's going on with the university."

For Bob McCarn, with Windmills of Texas, Sharp's humor was a high point of the presentation.

McCarn, who described himself as a conservative, said he also appreciated Sharp's political career and views.

"I think he's probably one of the most popular politicians in Texas," he said.

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