Farmers and ranchers focus on policy concerns
Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) voting delegates addressed eminent domain, property rights, groundwater and drone use on farms and ranches during the policy session of the organization's 82nd annual meeting, which concluded this afternoon in Arlington.
Nearly 1,000 farmers and ranchers from across the state convened Dec. 5-7 at the Arlington Convention Center. There were 799 voting delegates from more than 150 counties participating in the policy session.
"The overall mood of the delegates was positive," TFB President Russell Boening said. "There are always areas of state and national policy that need our attention. I think those areas of concern were addressed in a way in which we can make a difference for rural Texas in the coming year."
Delegates voted to support that all entities with the power to obtain property by the right of eminent domain be required to have state and local permits before acquiring property. Delegates also opposed the use of eminent domain for recreational, environmental or private business, or any non-governmental purposes.
The TFB delegation voted to support groundwater conservation district rules that respect a landowner’s right to a fair share. They also voted to support that landowners receive compensation for drainage of their brackish groundwater in regulated areas.
In national policy, delegates voted to support the inclusion of cottonseed as an oilseed crop for the purpose of government program determination. The policy resolution will now go to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting for consideration in January.
The issue of unmanned aircraft, or drones, was discussed.
"There's a lot of debate right now about the use of drones on farms and ranches. It's a production aid that we're seeing in our state," Boening said. "We want the landowner or tenant to give permission before a drone can be flown over private property, and we want to make sure there are no burdensome and unnecessary regulations for their use in agriculture."
Boening was reelected by voting delegates to a second term as TFB president. He is the 10th president of the statewide organization, which represents more than 518,000 member-families. He grows cotton, corn, grain sorghum, watermelons and wheat, as well as manages a beef cattle operation and a 450-cow dairy with his brother and father in Wilson County.
Michael White of Wilbarger County was elected vice president and Robert Gordon of Dallam County was reelected secretary-treasurer.
Two new directors were also elected.
Jessica Richmond of De Leon in Comanche County is the new District 7 state director. She raises replacement heifers, irrigated Bermuda hay, small grains and owns a farm and ranch real estate company. She and her husband, Cade, have three children. She was a co-applicant and winner of the 2014 TFB Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher Award. She replaces Dave Edmiston of McCulloch County, whose term as state director expired.
The new District 13 state director is Scott Frazier of Corpus Christi, former president of the Nueces County Farm Bureau. He raises cotton, grain sorghum, corn, wheat and beef cattle. He and his wife, Kay, have one daughter. He replaces Dale Murden of Hidalgo County, whose term as state director expired.
The following directors were reelected to two-year terms: Gordon of Dallam County, District 1; White of Wilbarger County, District 3; Mark Chamblee of Smith County, District 5; Larry Joiner of Angelina County, District 9; and Robert E. Reed of Matagorda County, District 11.