Texas Agriculture May 6, 2016 : Page22

Farm Bureau leaders on Capitol Hill National Affairs Awards Trip By Justin Green Staff Writer Though cattle and tractors weren’t seen in Washington, D.C., a group of Texas farmers and ranchers fit right in with the crowd. More than 150 county and state Farm Bureau leaders visited the na-tion’s capital to talk with members of the Texas congressional delegation and their staff about current topics and issues affecting agriculture and the Lone Star State. Trade, crop insurance, the farm bill, regulations and labeling laws topped the list of concerns. “We, as rural America, agriculture producers, need to have face-to-face conversations with our representatives and staff to help them to have a better understanding of our industry and what we see from our perspec-tive,” said Trent Cadra, a Wheeler County rancher and cotton farmer. The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, a regulatory concern on the minds of farm-ers and ranchers, would expand the federal Clean Wa-ter Act jurisdic-tion over many landscape features U.S. Representative Will Hurd addressed regulations found on farm, and other major issues affecting agriculture with his ranch and forest constituents and guests. lands across the nation. The Texas group discussed the regulatory overreach and the po-tential impacts it could have on farming and ranching. “WOTUS is one topic that will affect all landowners, myself included. Landowners will be directly affected due to the EPA’s ability to use said legislation to dictate what landowners can and cannot do on their per-sonal property,” Cadra said. U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe voted for a Senate joint resolution to disapprove the EPA’s rule. Conversations with Texas farmers and ranchers “confirmed my con-cerns about the harmful repercussions that this ill-conceived environ-mental regulation will have upon the livelihoods of hardworking farmers. Although the president chose to side with unelected federal bureaucrats by vetoing this measure, I’ve remained steadfast in my commitment to pushing back against EPA’s overreach on behalf of agricultural commu-nities and farmers throughout the country, and I will continue working to dismantle this regulation using Congress’ power of the purse,” Rat-cliffe said. Risk management is needed for farmers and ranchers, especially in times of low commodity prices like they are facing now. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway spoke to the group about another possible attack on crop insurance and how he un-derstands the necessity of it in farming and ranching operations. He stressed if it does come to this again, he will need Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) members’ help to save the lifeline. Without a risk management program in place, many farmers and ranchers cannot qualify for operating loans to grow their crops, putting their farms at risk. “Since my operation consists of dryland farming, it is very important to me to have some protection in the form of crop insurance to help cover losses in the event of a crop failure,” TFB District 10 State Director Ronnie Muennink said. TFB’s voluntary labeling stance on foods made with genetically modified 22 M AY 6 , 2016

Farm Bureau Leaders on Capitol Hill

Justin Green

Though cattle and tractors weren’t seen in Washington, D.C., a group of Texas farmers and ranchers fit right in with the crowd.

More than 150 county and state Farm Bureau leaders visited the nation’s capital to talk with members of the Texas congressional delegation and their staff about current topics and issues affecting agriculture and the Lone Star State.

Trade, crop insurance, the farm bill, regulations and labeling laws topped the list of concerns.

“We, as rural America, agriculture producers, need to have face-to-face conversations with our representatives and staff to help them to have a better understanding of our industry and what we see from our perspective,” said Trent Cadra, a Wheeler County rancher and cotton farmer.

The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, a regulatory concern on the minds of farmers and ranchers, would expand the federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction over many landscape features found on farm, ranch and forest lands across the nation. The Texas group discussed the regulatory overreach and the potential impacts it could have on farming and ranching.

“WOTUS is one topic that will affect all landowners, myself included. Landowners will be directly affected due to the EPA’s ability to use said legislation to dictate what landowners can and cannot do on their personal property,” Cadra said.

U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe voted for a Senate joint resolution to disapprove the EPA’s rule.

Conversations with Texas farmers and ranchers “confirmed my concerns about the harmful repercussions that this ill-conceived environmental regulation will have upon the livelihoods of hardworking farmers. Although the president chose to side with unelected federal bureaucrats by vetoing this measure, I’ve remained steadfast in my commitment to pushing back against EPA’s overreach on behalf of agricultural communities and farmers throughout the country, and I will continue working to dismantle this regulation using Congress’ power of the purse,” Ratcliffe said.

Risk management is needed for farmers and ranchers, especially in times of low commodity prices like they are facing now.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway spoke to the group about another possible attack on crop insurance and how he understands the necessity of it in farming and ranching operations. He stressed if it does come to this again, he will need Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) members’ help to save the lifeline.

Without a risk management program in place, many farmers and ranchers cannot qualify for operating loans to grow their crops, putting their farms at risk.

“Since my operation consists of dryland farming, it is very important to me to have some protection in the form of crop insurance to help cover losses in the event of a crop failure,” TFB District 10 State Director Ronnie Muennink said.

TFB’s voluntary labeling stance on foods made with genetically modified products was well-represented on the Hill by organization leaders, as well as by U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

Cornyn stated he is hopeful to get a federal voluntary labeling bill that encompasses all states.

Texas farmers and ranchers also supported trade, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in meetings.

If the trade barriers are lowered, it would make it easier for U.S. farmers and ranchers to get products to various countries, which would result in getting them more money for their goods.

“It’s been shown that it [Trans-Pacific Partnership] will increase ag exports and specifically increase farm income,” TFB President Russell Boening said in an interview with the TFB Radio Network. “And Texas is a big beneficiary of that.”

It’s unclear when the current Congress will address legislation authorizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Boening noted, but it’s still a major topic of discussion.

“The message our members are taking to the Hill is trade is vital for agriculture,” he said.

An important issue to many trip participants was cotton and the struggle the commodity is facing. Conaway stated that he and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are at an impasse on listing cottonseed as an “other oilseed.” They are currently working on another option to help cotton farmers.

U.S. Representative Will Hurd also met with the group.

Hurd said he proudly and proactively represents Texas farmers and ranchers.

“Farmers and ranchers are constantly dealing with executive overreach and red tape from federal agencies, which threatens their businesses and the livelihood of their families and employees. Battling the bureaucracy on their behalf is the part of my job I enjoy the most, and I appreciate the input and updates from Texas Farm Bureau members in my district. Their daily hard work and sacrifices help keep our economy running,” Hurd said.

U.S. Representative Pete Sessions reassured his backing of Texas farmers and ranchers, sharing with the group that he will personally come to any farmer’s land and stand by them if they call and tell him a federal agency is trying to get on their privately owned land.

At the end of the week when TFB members walked away from Washington, D.C., they considered it a win.

Muennink left the trip with a feeling that the Texas congressional delegation is concerned with the issues facing farmers and ranchers and are willing to help solve those issues.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Farm+Bureau+Leaders+on+Capitol+Hill/2473726/300782/article.html.

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