December 1 , 2006
By Mike Barnett
Farmers and ranchers from all 13 Texas Farm Bureau districts met in Waco Nov. 13-15 to consider proposed policies submitted by county Farm Bureaus across the state in preparation for the 73rd annual TFB meeting in Arlington.
Policy adopted at the TFB annual meeting will guide the organization in its endeavors in 2007.
"These resolutions that were sent into the state Resolutions Committee were well thought out at the county level and I think that helped our process here," said Resolutions Committee Chairman and TFB Vice President Lloyd Arthur of Ralls. "The committee had a good background on the issues and I think the process worked well."
With private property related issues continuing to surface in Texas due to the Trans Texas Corridor, pipeline and transmission right-of-ways and other concerns, eminent domain was an area that received heavy scrutiny.
"Eminent domain has been a key issue for our folks ever since the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo versus City of New London," Arthur said.
Among eminent domain resolutions adopted by the Committee that were sent for consideration to the state convention:
Condemning entities should be penalized if they do not negotiate in good faith to acquire property.
Support for prompt, just and adequate compensation when property is taken, including legal costs, expert witness fees, associated costs, relocation costs, appraisals including highest and best use, replacement costs and participation fees.
Support for all efforts to challenge and reverse the Supreme Court ruling on Kelo v. City of New London.
Arthur said this year's drought lay heavy on agricultural producers' minds as several resolutions addressed that ongoing problem. One dealt with providing assistance at the federal level to build hay storage facilities.
"Our folks felt like if they had some facilities to store hay where the hay wouldn't be sitting in the weather and deteriorating, there would be a possibility of saving hay from the good years for years like this," he said. "Of course, hay barns are very expensive to build. If we had some kind of assistance of any type to get to those producers so they could build those facilities, it would be a tremendous opportunity."
County Farm Bureaus also sent in resolutions for increased funding for the Texas Forest Service, so it can fulfill its increased responsibilities for fighting wildfires, which devasted many parts of Texas earlier in the spring. Another resolution asked that provisions for agriculture disasters be included in the next farm bill.
Realizing property tax reform for school funding could be endangered by ever increasing property appraisals, the Committee forwarded several resolutions dealing with property taxes. Some of those resolutions included:
Lowering the appraisal cap to 6 percent, with all increases above the cap subject to approval by countywide election.
Support for the elimination of the unelected positions of County Chief Tax Appraisal Officer and support shifting the duties of the chief appraiser to the elected position of county tax assessor/collector.
Support for reappraising property every three years instead of every year.
Other resolutions to be sent to the delegate body included:
Support for the current law giving the Texas Animal Health Commission the authority to establish a premise and animal identification system, support for a voluntary market-driven program until such time there is a federal mandate requiring the establishment of such systems, and support for an individual animal identification system that responds to the specific needs of each species rather than an identical program being required for all species. A resolution also urged USDA to conduct a full cost analysis of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program and that details be published.
Support for the current $1 beef check-off with a recommendation for a review within the organization to determine the cost effectiveness and benefits of a higher rate.
Opposition to the consolidation and downsizing of county Farm Service Agency offices.
Arthur said the Resolutions Committee dealt with a host of other issues important to farmers and ranchers. He said the entire committee is looking forward to the TFB Convention in Arlington.
"It's there that policy is set to guide our organization for the coming year," Arthur said.
Texas Farm Bureau's 2006 Resolutions Committee included (front row, left to right) TFB President Kenneth Dierschke; Resolutions Committee Chairman and Vice President Lloyd Arthur; State Directors Joe F. Kapavik, Gary McGehee, Daniel Dierschke, Thomas Boehme, Arthur L. Bluntzer; and YF&R Committee Chairman Darren Turley. (Second row, left to right) Dist. 1: Chad Hicks (Dallam), Kenneth Schlabs (Deaf Smith), George Bonds (Sherman); Dist. 2: Dewey Hukill (Lamb), Michael White (Lynn), Kevin Buxkemper (Lubbock); Dist. 3: Robert Dean (Baylor), Jerry Steadham (Montague), Steven Lehrmann (Haskell). (Third row, left to right) Dist. 4: Lucas Hartman (Cooke), Larry Barber (Hill); Dist. 5: Scotty Rhea (Red River), Lin Mabus (Marion); Dist. 6: James Beaver (Scurry), David Stubblefield (Mitchell); Dist. 7: Daniel Wilde (Runnels), Dave Edmiston (McCulloch), Jerry Lee (Erath). (Fourth row, left to right) Dist. 8: Marc Scott (McLennan), Stephen Munz (Bell); Dist. 5: Pete Gipson (Upshur); Dist. 9: Larry Joiner (Angelina), Mike Meador (Nacogdoches), Bob Jacobs (Tyler); Dist. 10: Jerome Reininger (Bexar), Raymond Meyer, Jr. (Atascosa). (Top row, left to right) Dist. 11: Glen Schmidt (Harris), Felix Stavinoha (Fayette), Richard E. Byrd (Walker); Dist. 12: James Koenig (DeWitt), Paul Looney (Bee); Dist. 13: Lee Wallek (Live Oak), Jim Massey (Nueces), John O'Brien (San Patricio).