Uncertainty over the future of water supplies in the Lone Star State stirred members of the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Resolutions Committee to reexamine the organization’s water policy Nov. 8-9 in Waco.
"With a booming population and a finite amount of water, this issue is of concern to all Texans," said TFB Resolutions Committee Chairman and TFB Vice President Dewey Hukill. "Court cases concerning groundwater in the state of Texas are on the dockets as we speak. The Legislature will likely tackle water issues when it convenes in January."
Members of the committee took a long look at recommendations submitted by county Farm Bureaus across the state and consolidated them into many water-related resolutions that will be decided by Farm Bureau voting delegates at the annual meeting in December.
They reaffirmed the belief that landowners have a vested right to use the groundwater beneath their land.
"We believe that the landowner has an ownership interest in the groundwater beneath the surface of their land," the proposed resolution reads. "We believe that this ownership interest gives the landowner a vested or ‘constitutionally protected’ right to drill a well and produce groundwater. We believe that the ownership interest in groundwater beneath the surface and the vested right to produce groundwater may be regulated in a reasonable manner to protect the groundwater resources of the area. We do not believe the ownership interest in groundwater gives the landowner a vested right to a specific quantity of groundwater under their land."
The TFB Resolutions Committee is comprised of 41 members representing all 13 TFB districts. It reviews and consolidates proposed policies submitted by county Farm Bureaus throughout the state.
This year, the committee reviewed 350 proposed resolutions in more than 20 hours of discussion and consideration. Now, it will be up to some 1,100 voting delegates, who will gather for TFB’s 77th Annual Meeting Dec. 4-6 in Waco, to approve or reject the resolutions.
"We have a lobbying team who works on our behalf in Austin and in Washington, and they have to have guidelines. We believe the best way to do that is through the resolutions process, because it gives everyone across the state a say in how that’s done," Hukill said in an interview with the TFB Radio Network. "This is the best way to bring people in from every area of the state to discuss the resolutions that we put in our policy book."
Committee members considered issues of both state and national scope. Statewide, approved resolutions address private property rights and the large budget deficit. Other state issues that will be considered at the annual meeting include the following:
• Support for a permanent provision in the state constitution that agricultural land be assessed for tax purposes according to its productive value.
• Support for a state law that would require proper and sufficient notice be given when legislation is filed that could conceivably grant eminent domain powers.
• Opposition to shifting maintenance of farm-to-market roads from the state to counties.
• Affirmation of humane treatment of animals, while recognizing that livestock and wildlife are part of the human food chain, and a belief that livestock and wildlife are not equal to humans and do not have human rights.
Proposed national policy aims to represent TFB member interests on issues such as border security and national farm policy. Resolutions with a national focus also will go before the voting delegation at the annual meeting.
Resolutions adopted at the TFB annual meeting become policy that guides the organization throughout the coming year.
Those resolutions approved by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) delegates at the national convention Jan. 9-12 in Atlanta, Ga., will provide a roadmap for the national organization in 2011.
The Texas Farm Bureau 2010 Resolutions Committee included (left to right, front row): TFB President Kenneth Dierschke; Resolutions Committee Chairman and Vice President Dewey Hukill; State Directors Charles Ray Huddleston, David Stubblefield, Richard Cortese, Raymond Meyer, and Russell Boening; and YF&R Committee Chairman John Paul Dineen III; (left to right, second row) District 1: Kenneth Schlabs (Deaf Smith), Linda Williams (Moore); District 2: Weldon Melton (Hale), K. Sherrol Patton (Swisher), Tommy Lewis (Cochran); District 3: James Tucker (Baylor), Jeff Teague (Haskell); District 4: Rodney Schronk (Hill); (left to right, third row) District 5: Jimmy Anderson (Bowie), Mary Gipson (Upshur), Mark Sustaire (Hopkins); District 6: Pete Case (Tom Green); Ross Copeland (Coke); District 7: Jimmy Holleman (Erath), Darrell Ueckert (Jones); (left to right, fourth row) District 8: Bill Felps (Burnet), Mickey Edwards (Lampasas); District 9: Allen Eggleston (Polk), Albert Thompson (Nacogdoches), Larry Joiner (Angelina); District 10: Howard Schirmer (Bexar), Thomas Boehme (Medina); (left to right, fifth row) District 11: Stephen Gertson (Wharton), Tom Kelley (Colorado), Donald Fuchs (Brazoria); District 12: Charles Haas (Lavaca), Rudy Schroeder (Caldwell); District 13: Matthew Setliff (San Patricio), Brian Jones (Hidalgo), Dane Elliott (Live Oak).