Protecting farming, ranching in our Texas Constitution

Protecting farming, ranching in our Texas Constitution

Texans love to hunt and fish. It is part of the heritage and culture of our state.

Is the activity worth protecting?

Texas voters answered yes in 2015. A state constitutional amendment that year passed with 81% support.

The amendment recognizes the right of people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject to laws promoting wildlife conservation.

Do you think that agriculture and animal husbandry are also part of our state’s heritage and culture? I definitely.

Is it worth protecting the two goals in the constitution of our state?

It’s a question I hope you and I get a chance to answer on a ballot in November.

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HJR 126 by Rep. DeWayne Burns of Johnson County is perhaps the most meaningful legislative effort to support Texas agriculture in many years.

Passage of HJR 126 would allow Texas voters an opportunity to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in agriculture, ranching, timber production, and wildlife management.

The constitutional amendment ensures that people have the right to engage in generally accepted practices of farming, ranching, timber production, or wildlife management on real property they own or lease.

Importantly, the amendment does not affect the legislature’s authority to authorize by general law a state agency or political subdivision to regulate where there is clear and convincing evidence that a law or regulation is necessary to protect the public health and safety from danger close.

It also does not affect the authority of the legislature to authorize by general law a state agency to regulate to prevent a danger to animal health or crop production.

Texas farming is big business. It is worth protecting in our Texas Constitution.

Our state leads the nation in the total number of farms and ranches, with more than 247,000 operations with an average size of 510 acres, according to the US Department of Agriculture (2021).

Together, this land covers more than 126 million hectares. Texas farmers and ranchers keep the family tradition alive, with nearly 99% of Texas farms and ranches being family farms or ranches, partnerships or family corporations.

The total economic impact of Texas agriculture reaches $115 billion annually, and one in seven Texans work in an agriculture-related job.

Some of our state’s major commodities include cattle and calves, cotton, sheep and goats, and dairy products. Goods are manufactured and exported to Texas, the nation and the world.

The Texas Legislature must pass HJR 126 and give Texas voters an opportunity to support Texas agriculture with protections in our state constitution.

A Centex cotton gin operator says 2022 has been the worst cotton year he’s ever seen, and other Waco-area agriculture officials say the extreme drought that covered 99% of McLennan County impacted the cotton season. Last year, Texas farmers harvested 7.7 million bushels of cotton on 5.6 million acres. This year, the United States Department of Agriculture predicts cotton production in Texas will drop sharply, harvesting just 2.9 million bales on 2.2 million acres of harvested area. Read more:

Russell Boening is president of the Waco-based Texas Farm Bureau, elected in 2014. He is a farmer, rancher and dairy operator from Wilson County.

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