Farm Bureau on legislative session: ‘An overall success’
(WACO, Texas)—The president of Texas’ largest farm organization said the Texas Legislature’s session that ended on Monday was largely a matter of successfully “playing both offense and defense.”
The controversial ag lien bill was passed with Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) support. Farmers who maintain ownership of their grain can now be secured creditors in the event of a grain storage bankruptcy. This, said TFB President Russell Boening of Poth, applies to licensed and bonded grain storage facilities.
“This was one of our biggest priorities in the session,” Boening said. “We’ve seen farmers lose their grain as secured creditors claim the assets of a bankrupt elevator. Farmers’ assets will be more secure.”
Farm Bureau also successfully supported passage of the seed pre-emption bill. That legislation prevents local governments from passing resolutions and ordinances that prevent the planting or cultivation of certain seeds and plants. Farm Bureau believes such local regulation would make management decisions difficult.
“The federal GMO labeling bill passed by Congress last year was a step forward in eliminating a confusing maze of state regulations,” Boening said. “We continued that positive direction on the state level by preventing a complicated proliferation of local ordinances.”
Bills opposed by Farm Bureau included the unprecedented action of the state Legislature overturning a federal regulatory decision with a warfarin regulation bill. Though the chemical had been approved by EPA to control the epidemic of wild hogs, a bill to limit use in Texas passed the House, but died in a Senate committee. During the debate, the product was pulled from the market.
“That would have set a disturbing precedent,” Boening said. “We have worked very hard to secure a minimum level of regulatory certainty. We do not need to return to the days of patchwork regulations state by state or county by county.”
Boening mentioned that an amendment to SB 715, allowing local governments to extend zoning and land use control over private property near military bases, was also defeated.
The biggest disappointment of the session, according to the TFB president, was the failure to achieve eminent domain reform.
“We are disappointed, but we are not giving up,” Boening said. “The last major eminent domain reform, SB 18, took three sessions to pass.”
The success of a legislative session, Boening said, often can be measured as much by what does not pass as what does.
“This time, we won on both sides of the ball,” he said.