February 17, 2006
TFB's not a single
By Kenneth Dierschke
It's decision time for Texas once again, as we choose those who will lead our state. For farmers and ranchers, these decisions take on great importance because of our relatively small numbers in comparison with the general population. Despite this obvious fact, Farm Bureau and agriculture have remained very effective in the legislative process.
One reason is AGFUND. We support our friends. Farm Bureau and agriculture stand behind those elected officials who understand our industry and support it in Austin and Washington. In Farm Bureau, political endorsements are made according to a carefully planned, grassroots driven system. The recommendations of AGFUND are elsewhere in this issue of our publication.
These decisions are made by the board of directors based on the voting record of incumbents, the stated positions of candidates and the wishes of county Farm Bureau members and leaders.
That is not to say the process is without controversy. Some of these decisions are very difficult. There are always issues that each of us feels very strongly about. Sometimes folks are very passionate about one issue.
The trouble is the survival of agriculture and farm and ranch families does not hinge on a single issue. Your organization has survived and thrived for more than 70 years because our leaders have always understood that. Agriculture is affected by virtually everything that happens in Austin and Washington.
A seat at the table
Farm Bureau is a part of that process because we seek out a seat at the table. We stay at the table because we offer responsible input into the process of governing Texas.We approach the Legislature and Congress each session with an important list of legislative objectives.
The Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) controversy has resulted in a group of people who feel passionately that the Corridor should never be built. Farm Bureau is with them.
TTC is not, however, the only issue with which we have to be concerned. Texas Farm Bureau, since 2004, has been opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor. Our opposition has been strong, vocal and responsible. It will remain so until our delegates change that position.
We will kill it if we can and do our best to implement positive changes in the meantime, as we've already done. That does not mean we can judge elected officials solely on that position. It is a factor, but not the only one.
Great success in Austin
During the last session of the Texas Legislature, Farm Bureau was successful in getting a new eminent domain law, securing a higher priority for agriculture in the area of state water rights, protection of agricultural water rights from condemnation, protecting the right to hunt on agricultural land within a city, returning development rights to landowners in the path of the TTC, more compensation for landowners that might lose property to TTC, implementing more control measures for feral hogs and protecting agricultural landowners from some annexation.
This is only a partial list. It was possible because we have chosen to participate in the process. If we had singled out one issue and announced that nothing else mattered, we'd have accomplished little or none of our remaining agenda.
Readers of this issue might conclude that the AGFUND endorsements do not always match those of single issue groups with which you are familiar. We think that Texas is bigger and more important than any single issue.
I hope that all Farm Bureau members and all Texans remember this as you consider on Election Day the future of Texas and the leaders that will guide her.
In any case, the most important action we can all take is to exercise our right to vote. We should all consider the best interests of Texas, voting our convictions, interests and beliefs for the future of our great state.