Texas Agriculture February 17, 2017 : Page 12

Farmers, ranchers make capitol connections By Julie Tomascik and Shala Watson The Texas Legislature is back in session, but what happens in Austin doesn’t just stay in Austin. That’s why more than 400 farm-ers and ranchers recently headed to Austin as part of Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) Leadership Confer-ence. The state and county leaders vis-ited the Capitol to talk with legisla-tors about current topics and issues affecting agriculture and the rural way of life. “It’s important to establish and build relationships with our sena-tors and representatives,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “We hear that they want to visit with their constituents, and the face-to-face connection is a great way to share our story and talk about the issues and how they affect us.” Eminent domain reform, ag lien legislation for farmer financial pro-tection, transportation and water were among the issues discussed. The state board of directors also met with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus about the issues. Eminent domain reform contin-ued to rise to the top in each con-versation, and elected officials took note. “Economic progress is essential to our state, but shouldn’t be accom-plished on the backs of private prop-erty owners,” Abbott said. “Eminent domain should be a fair and equita-ble process for all, and I appreciate the Texas Farm Bureau for taking a leadership role on this issue.” State senators and representa-tives from urban and rural districts alike listened to the concerns of farmers and ranchers. “For me to represent [my district], it means I need the voices of Den-ton County and those guys emailing me, coming in person,” Rep. Lynn Stucky said. “The biggest way to fail is to not be a good communica-tor with the people who brought you and ensuring farms and ranches can remain viable. But connecting with legislators who represent ur-ban districts is also important. TFB leaders explained that agriculture affects everyone, even those outside of rural communities. “If we don’t get out and tell our story, then sometimes our story is not told,” Chad Gulley, Smith Coun-ty AgriLife Extension agent and Smith County Farm Bureau presi-dent, said. “We’ve got to tell our sto-ry, and one way we can do that is by talking to our legislators.” Each Leadership Conference of-fers new opportunities to discuss issues and make new connections to help agriculture keep moving for-ward. “These state representatives and senators want to have eye contact with somebody like us and we can tell them the real story,” Sam Sny-der, Callahan-Shackelford Coun-ty Farm Bureau president, said. “They’re not talking to the lobby-ists. They’re talking to real produc-ers. This is a passion for us. It’s how we make our living and they want to hear from us.” During the three-day conference, members also heard from speakers and legislators on issues the legis-lature will likely address this ses-sion. Eminent Domain A growing state with a strong ap-petite for new development has put a target on Texas private property. And with about 95 percent of state land being privately owned, Texas landowners are often left searching for a fair offer in eminent domain proceedings. The Texans for Property Rights Coalition, which TFB is a found-ing member, is seeking eminent domain reform this legislative ses-sion. The coalition of 22 Texas-based organizations seeks to bring fair-ness into the equation by asking condemning entities to pay land-owners’ attorney fees and court Eminent domain topped the list of issues the Texas Farm Bureau board of directors discussed with Gov. Greg Abbott. F EBRUARY 17 , 2017 Rep. Lynn Stucky discussed agricultural issues with his constituents at the recent Texas Farm Bureau Leadership Conference in Austin. here.” Stucky, who was endorsed by TFB AGFUND, begins his first term in the legislature, focused on rural Texas. The Kansas native is joined in the legislature by other Farm Bu-reau friends, including Rep. Ernest Bailes, who is also a graduate of TFB’s leadership program AgLead. “We have to make sure we have rural people in those seats who un-derstand what agriculture is and the issues we face and how best to help agriculture have a seat at the table,” Bailes said. “And that’s one thing that I was very fortunate to be able to take this on and I’m glad I did. I just look forward to the ses-sion and seeing what all we can do to take care of our people back at home.” These relationships are essential to the future of Texas agriculture 12

Farmers, Ranchers Make Capitol Connections

Julie Tomascik and Shala Watson

The Texas Legislature is back in session, but what happens in Austin doesn’t just stay in Austin.

That’s why more than 400 farmers and ranchers recently headed to Austin as part of Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) Leadership Conference.

The state and county leaders visited the Capitol to talk with legislators about current topics and issues affecting agriculture and the rural way of life.

“It’s important to establish and build relationships with our senators and representatives,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “We hear that they want to visit with their constituents, and the face-to-face connection is a great way to share our story and talk about the issues and how they affect us.”

Eminent domain reform, ag lien legislation for farmer financial protection, transportation and water were among the issues discussed.

The state board of directors also met with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus about the issues.

Eminent domain reform continued to rise to the top in each conversation, and elected officials took note.

“Economic progress is essential to our state, but shouldn’t be accomplished on the backs of private property owners,” Abbott said. “Eminent domain should be a fair and equitable process for all, and I appreciate the Texas Farm Bureau for taking a leadership role on this issue.”

State senators and representatives from urban and rural districts alike listened to the concerns of farmers and ranchers.

“For me to represent [my district], it means I need the voices of Denton County and those guys emailing me, coming in person,” Rep. Lynn Stucky said. “The biggest way to fail is to not be a good communicator with the people who brought you here.”


Stucky, who was endorsed by TFB AGFUND, begins his first term in the legislature, focused on rural Texas.

The Kansas native is joined in the legislature by other Farm Bureau friends, including Rep. Ernest Bailes, who is also a graduate of TFB’s leadership program AgLead.

“We have to make sure we have rural people in those seats who understand what agriculture is and the issues we face and how best to help agriculture have a seat at the table,” Bailes said. “And that’s one thing that I was very fortunate to be able to take this on and I’m glad I did. I just look forward to the session and seeing what all we can do to take care of our people back at home.”

These relationships are essential to the future of Texas agriculture and ensuring farms and ranches can remain viable. But connecting with legislators who represent urban districts is also important. TFB leaders explained that agriculture affects everyone, even those outside of rural communities.

“If we don’t get out and tell our story, then sometimes our story is not told,” Chad Gulley, Smith County AgriLife Extension agent and Smith County Farm Bureau president, said. “We’ve got to tell our story, and one way we can do that is by talking to our legislators.”

Each Leadership Conference offers new opportunities to discuss issues and make new connections to help agriculture keep moving forward.

“These state representatives and senators want to have eye contact with somebody like us and we can tell them the real story,” Sam Snyder, Callahan-Shackelford County Farm Bureau president, said. “They’re not talking to the lobbyists. They’re talking to real producers. This is a passion for us. It’s how we make our living and they want to hear from us.”

During the three-day conference, members also heard from speakers and legislators on issues the legislature will likely address this session.

Eminent Domain

A growing state with a strong appetite for new development has put a target on Texas private property. And with about 95 percent of state land being privately owned, Texas landowners are often left searching for a fair offer in eminent domain proceedings.

The Texans for Property Rights Coalition, which TFB is a founding member, is seeking eminent domain reform this legislative session.

The coalition of 22 Texas-based organizations seeks to bring fairness into the equation by asking condemning entities to pay landowners’ attorney fees and court costs if final damages awarded are 125 percent greater than the initial offer.

Property rights protection in bona fide offers, valuation of easements, bond requirements and appraisal disclosure are also part of the eminent domain reform package the coalition is pursuing.

Ag Lien

Protecting farmers’ ownership in the crops they grow and deliver to a contract purchaser or warehouse is one of TFB’s priority issues.

Farmers are unsecured creditors and deserve protection and financial compensation for their crop, speakers noted at the conference.

Farmers should have first lien on their commodity stored in a licensed and bonded warehouse—whether in open storage or contracted to be purchased when the farmer has not yet been paid.

Transportation

Michael Pacheco, associate legislative director for TFB, discussed transportation issues with conference attendees.

TFB is working to share information on vehicles, trailer sizes and capabilities with legislators. There’s a possibility to increase weights or variances for farmers and ranchers, particularly during harvest.

The Leadership Conference was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Farmers%2C+Ranchers+Make+Capitol+Connections/2712240/384301/article.html.

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