A landowners’ interest in the water under his land is a vested interest that gives him a constitutionally protected right to drill and produce groundwater, delegates said during Texas Farm Bureau’s 77th annual meeting Dec. 4-6 in Waco.
With Texas’ booming population and growing demands on resources, water will take center stage as the Legislature convenes this month. Voting delegates from 147 county Farm Bureaus prepared the organization’s policy for the upcoming session.
Delegates recognized, however, that water is a finite resource and will require some regulation to protect local supplies.
They suggested ownership interest in 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."
They suggested groundwater conservation districts adopt rules to manage an aquifer based on local conditions to prevent waste, to preserve and protect the aquifer, to preserve existing and historic uses, and to achieve desired future conditions.
Delegates also elected Kenneth Dierschke to his ninth consecutive one-year term as president of TFB.
"It has been a great honor to represent you for the last eight years," Dierschke said. "Together we can overcome challenges and create opportunities for the farm, ranch and rural families of Texas."
In other matters, delegates addressed a potential disaster for Texas grain farmers. They suggested that a statewide producer-funded commodity indemnity program be established to ensure full payment is received for their commodities when a grain storage facility closes because of financial problems.
"There’s no protection for farmers and ranchers who hold grain in elevators," one resolution advocate said.
Delegates also voted to strengthen the Texas Department of Agriculture’s regulatory authority to audit and inspect storage facilities and records, and suggested increasing the bonding amount required for storage facilities.
On the national level, delegates affirmed that enforcement of immigration laws and border security is the responsibility of the federal government, adding that a state’s right to pass and enforce laws to secure their borders and protect their citizens must be respected by the federal government.
In other state policy, delegates:
•Supported state legislation that would require proper notice be given when legislation is filed that could grant eminent domain powers.
•Opposed legislation regulating or taxing "dust" in any open air agricultural operation.
•Supported state funding for any research or program—including the use of a bounty—to control feral hogs.
•Opposed shifting maintenance of farm-to-market roads from the state to counties.
At convention’s end, the TFB board of directors re-elected Dewey Hukill of Lamb County, District 2, as vice president. Billy B. Brown of Carson County, District 1, was elected secretary-treasurer.