Texas Agriculture December 4, 2015 : Page 14

Multi-million dollar TDA fee increases delayed By Julie Tomascik Associate Editor Following pushback from the agriculture community and state lawmakers, Texas Agriculture Com-missioner Sid Miller has delayed proposed fee increases for industries the agency oversees. The fee increases, which were pro-posed this fall, will now take effect Jan. 1, 2016 rather than Dec. 1, be-cause much of the feedback received during the comment period called for a delay in implementation. The Texas Department of Agricul-ture (TDA) is poised to hike fees for many of the licenses, registrations and services it provides. The fees, in some cases, are more than doubling. Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) submit-ted one of the many letters received by the commissioner, requesting an extension of the comment period and questioning the need for the increases. “TDA has not demonstrated that the increases will result in an in-crease in services provided,” TFB President Russell W. Boening stated in the letter. “An increase in fees with no increase in service or benefits is difficult to justify.” Confusion surrounds the Sep-tember 2015 Cost Recovery Rate document distributed by TDA, which claims the agency had “early discus-sions with stakeholders.” But, in communicating with stake-holder groups, the impacts to users are not completely understood, Boen-ing’s letter continued. The intentions of the fee increases are also unclear, TFB Associate Di-rector of Commodity and Regulatory Activities Brant Wilbourn said. “We believe the fees should only apply to the charged service and not to other activities in TDA,” Boening said. That’s how the fees are currently structured. Specific fees are only ap-plied to certain programs and can’t transfer from year to year. The increases come at a time when the agency is operating on a smaller budget, after Miller championed those cuts during his time as a Texas representative. And the increases are significant. Several million dollars are at stake, ultimately affecting the many indus-tries within Texas agriculture. “Prices would increase for renew-ing grain warehouse licenses, regis-tering pesticide products and field inspections to certify seeds, among others,” Wilbourn said. “And the cost of renewing pesticide applicator li-censes would also be affected, so the fee increases would be felt by many farmers and ranchers.” That’s why Boening feels it is im-portant that “TDA provide an analy-sis demonstrating that the increases will not negatively impact the Texas agricultural economy.” Rationale and understanding. That’s what lawmakers and the ag-riculture community are calling for. “The new fees won’t apply until af-ter Commissioner Miller fields ques-tions at a Dec. 8 hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs,” Wilbourn said. Boening will also be present, and testify, at the hearing. TFB and other agricultural or-ganizations hope the delay allows their input to be considered in the fee structure. Farmers never take days off and neither does Ram 1500. COLUMBUS TOMMIE VAUGHN CHRYSLER JEEP DODGE RAM 979-732-2353 tommievaughnchrys-lerjeepdodge.com LIBERTY LIBERTY-DAYTON CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP RAM 800-833-8841 LIBERTYDAYTON-CHRYSLER.COM NEW BRAUNFELS BLUEBONNET CHRYSLER, DODGE 800-879-2621 bbdodge.com SEGUIN WYATT ARP CHRYS-LER-DODGE, INC. 830-372-3444 wyattarp.com TAYLOR NYLE MAXWELL CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP RAM 512-218-5300 NyleMaxwell.com TYLER ALLEN SAMUELS EAST TEXAS DODGE TYLER 800-562-7673 allensamuelstyler.com 14 D ECEMBER 4, 2015

Multi-million Dollar TDA Fee Increases Delayed

Julie Tomascik

Following pushback from the agriculture community and state lawmakers, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has delayed proposed fee increases for industries the agency oversees.

The fee increases, which were proposed this fall, will now take effect Jan. 1, 2016 rather than Dec. 1, because much of the feedback received during the comment period called for a delay in implementation.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is poised to hike fees for many of the licenses, registrations and services it provides. The fees, in some cases, are more than doubling.

Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) submitted one of the many letters received by the commissioner, requesting an extension of the comment period and questioning the need for the increases.

“TDA has not demonstrated that the increases will result in an increase in services provided,” TFB President Russell W. Boening stated in the letter. “An increase in fees with no increase in service or benefits is difficult to justify.”

Confusion surrounds the September 2015 Cost Recovery Rate document distributed by TDA, which claims the agency had “early discussions with stakeholders.”

But, in communicating with stakeholder groups, the impacts to users are not completely understood, Boening’s letter continued.

The intentions of the fee increases are also unclear, TFB Associate Director of Commodity and Regulatory Activities Brant Wilbourn said.

“We believe the fees should only apply to the charged service and not to other activities in TDA,” Boening said.

That’s how the fees are currently structured. Specific fees are only applied to certain programs and can’t transfer from year to year.

The increases come at a time when the agency is operating on a smaller budget, after Miller championed those cuts during his time as a Texas representative.

And the increases are significant. Several million dollars are at stake, ultimately affecting the many industries within Texas agriculture.

“Prices would increase for renewing grain warehouse licenses, registering pesticide products and field inspections to certify seeds, among others,” Wilbourn said. “And the cost of renewing pesticide applicator licenses would also be affected, so the fee increases would be felt by many farmers and ranchers.”

That’s why Boening feels it is important that “TDA provide an analysis demonstrating that the increases will not negatively impact the Texas agricultural economy.”

Rationale and understanding. That’s what lawmakers and the agriculture community are calling for.

“The new fees won’t apply until after Commissioner Miller fields questions at a Dec. 8 hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs,” Wilbourn said.

Boening will also be present, and testify, at the hearing.

TFB and other agricultural organizations hope the delay allows their input to be considered in the fee structure.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Multi-million+Dollar+TDA+Fee+Increases+Delayed/2339740/283639/article.html.

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