Texas Farmers, Ranchers Call for Fairness in Eminent Domain

Texas farmers and ranchers will be voting on standing up against losing more farm and ranch lands through eminent domain for high speed rail and other projects. They will vote on resolutions during their 83rd meeting of the Texas Farm Bureau December 3-5. The meeting in San Antonio will address the challenges in agriculture and rural Texas.

Approximately 1,000 farmers and ranchers are expected to descend upon the Alamo City. According to the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), they will discuss transportation, agricultural liens, the right to repair agricultural equipment, and will address ways to help agriculture continue to be sustainable and profitable.

“The Texas Farm Bureau’s annual convention is the policy making meeting for Texas’ largest farm organization. Voting delegates from county Farm Bureaus will vote on policy resolutions written by members of those county organizations,” Gene Hall, TFB spokesman told Breitbart Texas.

On November 7-8, the TFB Resolutions Committee considered proposed policy changes for the state’s largest general farm organization.

The 41-member committee represents all segments of agriculture and over two days they deliberated and then put together more than 260 county Farm Bureau resolutions. The resolutions relate to both state and national policies.

Resolutions that are adopted at the TFB Annual Meeting will serve as a guide for the organization next year. If national resolutions are passed, these will be forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) for consideration at its annual meeting in January. Resolutions that are approved by AFBF delegates at the meeting will similarly guide the national organization in 2017.

The Committee is proposing that their members vote to stand-up against taking more farm and ranch lands through eminent domain for high speed rail and other construction projects.

“Farms and ranches and rural communities in Texas can be unduly burdened by projects like the high speed rail,” said TFB Vice President and Resolutions Committee Chairman Michael White. “Committee members proposed that if these type projects are approved, a number of conditions should be met to help ensure private property rights for affected landowners.”

White noted that the TFB considers the eminent domain issue a priority and they wish to address fairness of these proceedings during the next legislative session.

The right to repair agricultural equipment which has become technologically advanced was also discussed during the resolution committee meeting. “Waiting for an equipment dealer to diagnose and fix a problem could mean increased costs and time lost,” White said. “The committee proposed language for owners of that equipment to have the right to repair it themselves or by an independent repair facility of their choosing.”

The committee also proposed supporting an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for the repair of agricultural vehicles.

A resolution supporting farmers having first lien on commodities stored in a licensed and bonded warehouse will be submitted at the state meeting. It applies to open storage or those contracted to be purchased when the farmer has not yet been paid, White added.

There are also resolutions proposing changes to the organization’s policy on rollback taxes for agricultural valuation, ad valorem taxes, chronic wasting disease in deer, and the Commissioner of Agriculture office.

On the national level, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trade Promotion Authority and cottonseed designation were the biggest concerns.

“The resolutions process is a grassroots effort,” White said. “Texas Farm Bureau is effective because we are a unified voice for farmers, ranchers and the rural citizens in Austin and Washington, D.C.”

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


Comment count on this article reflects comments made on Breitbart.com and Facebook. Visit Breitbart's Facebook Page.