Protecting farming, ranching in our Texas Constitution
By Russell Boening
Texas Farm Bureau President
Texans like to hunt and fish. It is part of our state’s heritage and culture.
Is the activity worth protecting?
Texas voters resoundingly answered, “Yes,” in 2015. A state constitutional amendment that year was approved with 81% support.
The amendment recognizes the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.
Do you think farming and ranching are also part of our state’s heritage and culture? I definitely do.
Are the two pursuits worth protecting in our state’s constitution?
It is a question I hope you and I have a chance to answer on a ballot in November.
I will vote “Yes!”
HJR 126 by State Rep. DeWayne Burns of Johnson County is perhaps the most meaningful legislative effort to support Texas agriculture in many years.
Passage of HJR 126 would allow Texas voters an opportunity to approve a constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production and wildlife management.
The constitutional amendment ensures people have the right to engage in generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production or wildlife management practices on real property they own or lease.
Importantly, the amendment does not affect the authority of the legislature to authorize by general law a state agency or political subdivision to regulate where there is clear and convincing evidence that the law or regulation is necessary to protect the public health and safety from imminent danger.
It also does not affect the authority of the legislature to authorize by general law a state agency to regulate to prevent a danger to animal health or crop production.
Texas agriculture is a big deal. It is worth protecting in our Texas Constitution.
Our state leads the nation in total number of farms and ranches, with more than 247,000 operations averaging 510 acres in size, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (2021).
Together, this land spans more than 126 million acres. Texas farmers and ranchers keep the family tradition alive, with nearly 99% of Texas farms and ranches being family farms or ranches, partnerships or family-held corporations.
Texas agriculture’s total economic impact reaches $115 billion annually, and one out of every seven Texans works in an agriculture-related job.
Some of our state’s top commodities include cattle and calves, cotton, sheep and goats, and dairy products. The goods are produced and exported across Texas, the nation and world.
The Texas Legislature should approve HJR 126 and give Texas voters an opportunity to support Texas agriculture with protections in our state’s constitution.
Russell Boening is a full-time farmer and rancher from Wilson County. He grows feed grains, cotton and wheat, as well as operates a dairy and a beef cattle operation with his brother near Floresville. He was elected president of Texas Farm Bureau in 2014.