January 6, 2006
2005: Texas Farm Bureau
Another great year for Texas Farm Bureau: that was the gist of TFB Executive Director Vernie Glasson's annual report to the membership at the 72nd annual convention. Below are highlights of his remarks...presented in bullet form...of the progress and achievements made by the state's largest farm organization in 2005.
The Voice of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. Congressional intern program.
Video news releases.
Editorial board conferences.
TFB "Voice of Agriculture" decals.
Farm Program Study Committee appointed.
TFB Radio Network added 16 stations.
RFD-TV segment "Farm Bureau Today" implemented.
Ag in the Classroom
11th annual Summer Ag Institute: 16 teachers from 13 counties.
Eight workshops: 185 teachers attended.
Four AITC workshops held at Texas A&M University for prospective teachers.
$5,000 to County Farm Bureaus through AITC matching grant program.
Over 100 county Farm Bureaus sponsored or participated in agriculture fairs or Ag Days for students.
Added displays for renewable energy, water/water conservation, nursery/greenhouse, forestry, equine and a producer corner.
Exhibited in seven cities, attracting 3.4 million visitors telling agriculture's story to urban audiences for a total of 104 days.
261 exhibit shifts by producer members from 44 County Farm Bureaus.
Received $31,500 in contributions from commodity organizations and $113,754 in corporate sponsorships.
Completed four video presentations on Planet Agriculture.
Dairy Digester: Completed installation of the system in the Bosque watershed.
Transfer of Electricity: Continued to increase efficiency from the digester generator to the grid.
Microbial Source Tracking Project: Completed for Lake Waco and Lake Belton areas. TFB preparing to release information in early 2006.
State Legislative Accomplishments
Trans-Texas Corridor: Compensation to landowners when property is severed by corridor; landowners may be provided passage beneath the corridor; may participate in development opportunities of facilities adjacent to and in the toll proceeds generated by the corridor.
Feral Hogs: State program was authorized to develop pilot project directed toward the eradication or control of feral hogs.
Property Rights: The Texas Legislature passed legislation prohibiting the taking of property for economic benefits except in certain circumstances.
Agriculture Use Valuation and the Sales Tax Exemption: Agriculture inputs were maintained during budget shortage of recent Legislature.
Beef Checkoff Program: Legislation passed for a state Beef Checkoff Program to be put into place in the event the national program is abolished in the future.
Legislative Contact Program: Successful tool in communicating with state elected officials. Over 700 email contacts made by members focusing on the issue of eminent domain. As a result, favorable legislation was passed.
National Legislative Accomplishments
National Energy Policy: Passed by Congress, provides for a 7.5 billion gallon renewable fuel standard. Critical to the future energy needs of agriculture and the United States.
Central America Free Trade Agreement: Passed by Congress.
Defending the agriculture budget: Critical issue during times of budget shortages. Agriculture was forced to accept budget reductions in overall budget reconciliation process. Producers will be required to accept only a 1 percent reduction in overall farm program benefits.
First Congressional Staff tour to the Rio Grande Valley: Held in cooperation with Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders and Texas Farm Credit System. Congressional staff members educated about Valley agriculture problems associated with importation of products from Mexico and border security.
National Animal Identification Program: Texas selected as one of the pilot states for national program. Worked with Texas livestock industry groups to develop and push legislation for state Animal Identification Program. Pilot program being implemented in three livestock markets and with one order buyer. Producer participants currently being selected.
Legal Defense Fund
Defense of Beef Checkoff Program: Instrumental in U.S. Supreme Court hearing appeal of nationwide injunction against collection of assessments for Beef Checkoff Program. In cooperation with AFBF, and 111 other organizations, filed a second amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that Beef Checkoff Program did not violate First Amendment. The Court in a 6-3 decision upheld Beef Checkoff Program.
Monitored the Cotton Checkoff Program.
Defense of Beef Imports based on sound science: TFB, AFBF and other state Farm Bureaus signed onto an amicus brief prepared by National Cattlemen's Beef Association. At issue is the validity of USDA's rule designating Canada as a minimal-risk region for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Montana District Court's preliminary injunction which prohibited import of live Canadian cattle.
Arkansas River Shiner Critical Habitat: TFB and a coalition of private and local government agencies from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas were successful in challenging U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's designation of critical habitat for Arkansas River Shiner. Texas excluded from final designation of critical habitat.
Opposed opening records to identify producers: Attorney General agreed with TFB and withheld the information based on TFB's intervention.
Defense of landowners' taking of property claim: Texas Supreme Court rules that a taking had occurred, and denied a water district's motion for rehearing.
Other and ongoing: TFB filed briefs in a power line condemnation case, to the U.S. Supreme Court on the power of eminent domain, and on hunting regulations. TFB intervened in Public Utility Commission proceedings and provided research in defending against environmental suits against producers.
Leadership Training & Development
New County Farm Bureau President's Orientation: 29 presidents attended three orientation sessions.
AgLead VII Class: Completed first-year curriculum for the program.
Advanced Agriculture Leadership Program: Developed concept program for CFB leaders age 40 and older.
Videos: Six video training/information programs produced this year.
Candidate Forum, October 2005: Develops politically active volunteer leadership, giving rural Texas better legislative and regulatory representation.
Commodity Advisory Committees: Conducted two meetings for each of TFB's 18 commodity advisory committees.
TFB Leadership Conference: 363 producer members from 109 counties attended conference held in Austin; total attendance of 447.
TFB Summer Commodity Conference: 491 producer members from 141 counties attended conference held in Marble Falls; total attendance of 550.
Statewide County Farm Bureau Presidents' Conference: 263 counties attended conference. Statewide CFB Presidents' Conference is scheduled to be an annual event.
25 meetings throughout state: 520 producers attended.
15 sale barn meetings: Over 833 cattle producers attended.
Livestock Risk Protection Program: Education provided.
Cotton sales to Mexico mills: Meetings and research conducted to help facilitate future.
Texas A&M Master Marketer Program: Contributed $10,000 to help offset registration costs for producers.
Global Agriculture Market Education: Developed plan to gather and provide information to assist members understand impact and opportunities.
Young Farmer & Rancher Activities
100 percent of the Committee's Program of Work was completed.
Committee members were urged to visit their state officials while in Austin and to make a special effort to stay in touch with them during the Legislative Session.
Sponsored and presented awards for the Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher, Excellence in Agriculture and Discussion Meet contests.
Approximately 33 percent increased attendance at district YF&R meetings.
Conducted 42nd annual TFB High School Citizenship Seminar: 231 students from 93 counties attended.
Youth Contests & Scholarship Programs
Total of $85,500 state-level scholarships awarded plus $2,100 in cash awards:
Talent Find Contest: $14,500 in scholarships
Miss Texas Farm Bureau Contest: $14,500 in scholarships
Free Enterprise Speech Contest: $19,500 in scholarships
TFB Agricultural Research & Education Foundation Scholarships: $8,000 in scholarships
Dick Mitchell Scholarship: $1,000
Two $4,000 scholarships to Texas 4-H Club members
$4,000 scholarship to retiring Texas FFA state president
$4,000 scholarship to Texas FCCLA member
YF&R Committee awarded two $1,000 scholarships to enrolled college students
YF&R Committee sponsored Collegiate Discussion Meet and presented $1,000 cash award to winner; $200 to three finalists; and $500 to winner's university
2005 National Affairs Awards Trip: Largest group in the history of the program. Approximately 140 county and state leaders participated. Group privileged to be addressed by the Secretary of Agriculture.
71st Annual Convention: Held in San Antonio, 844 delegates from 147 counties registered for a total attendance of 1,134.
State Resolutions Committee disposition: Counties notified of their county resolution prior to convention.
The State and National Policy Books: Available on the Texas Farm Bureau web site at http://www. txfb.org.
Internet Blog: Developed for members to communicate on proposed resolutions during policy development process.
Resolutions Packet: Highlighted (shaded gray) for new language and contained TFB Resolution Com-mittee's comments regarding changes.
A checks and balances process: Counties received an electronic confirmation of the number of resolutions received at the TFB State Office and were required to confirm that the number was accurate.
County Farm Bureau Programs/Activities and
Membership: Conducted an organized membership acquisition and retention program by state Board districts which resulted in a membership gain of 4,659 with an 87.01 percent retention rate.
County Farm Bureau Office Secretaries Appreciation Functions: 341 secretaries from 170 counties attended statewide conference held in Waco.
County Farm Bureau Office Secretaries Conference: 139 secretaries from 94 counties attended statewide conference held in Waco.
Food Check-Out Day: Primary media event for County Farm Bureaus providing message of safe, healthy and affordable food.
Membership Mailing Service: Provided $130,000-plus savings to County Farm Bureaus for membership mailing activities (new member, renewal, delinquent letters and past due notices).
Continued Membership Appreciation Calling Program: 75,501 calls placed; spoke with 19,974 members; 6,072 messages left with third party; 15,156 messages left on answering machines. In most cases, members appreciated the contact and made favorable comments on TFB programs and services.
County Farm Bureau Audit Program: Continued program which allows county Farm Bureaus to be rebated six months of the cost for the CRKP program.
Hurricane relief: $61,000 was distributed to Texas Farm Bureau producers who solicited assistance through the American Farm Bureau Federation Hurricane Relief Fund.
Pioneer Awards: This program continues to receive strong interest and support by County Farm Bureaus. Through the end of 2005, there have been 196 recipients of this prestigious award.
New Benefits & Services for Members
Contracts being finalized: Discount programs with ADT Home Security, TARA Energy and American Hearing Benefits, as well as a rebate program with Case IH.
Dodge rebates: Rebates to TFB members since inception of the program total $22 million. Texas led all 50 states in the AFBF Dodge Rebate program for 2005. Over 7,200 TFB members received a $500 rebate in 2005.
TFB Website: Several features have been added to the website (www.txfb.org) including a "Communicating with Congress" link. Photos of significant events such as hurricane damage, text of TFB and AFBF policy books, applications for all TFB scholarships, YF&R contests and other programs are now available on the site.