Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

County Farm Bureau leads push for right to farm

October 25, 2023 - 00:00
Posted in:
  • Article Image Alt Text

Texas farming could change dramatically pending the outcome of the Nov. 7 Constitutional Amendment Election.

Speaking at the 60th Grimes County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Oct. 19 in Anderson, associate legislative director in Farm Bureau’s Government Affairs Division, Blake Roach, stressed the importance of passing Proposition 1, aka the Right to Farm.

West Texas-born and East Texas- raised, the Sam Houston State University graduate most recently served as an appointments manager in the Office of Appointments and as a policy advisor in the Budget and Policy Division of the governor’s office where he handled agriculture and natural resource policy matters for Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Before that, Roach worked as an aide in the Texas Governor’s Office and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Roach described HJR 126, the Right to Farm, as “one of the biggest issues presented to legislators that they passed.” He also credits passage to Farm Bureau members statewide who talked to their legislators about the issues they face and the importance of right to farm.

Texans’ food security

Explaining Prop 1, Roach said, “This will help normal day-to-day practices that are currently being used by farmers and ranchers in Texas and protect all of our family farms and ranches, large and small. It’s important for a number of reasons. One being that between 1997 and 2017, over 2 million acres of ag land were lost, and by 2043, Texas will add another 13 million people to its population so we’re certainly continuing to grow the state.”

He continued, “It’s important because we have constitutional rights that are here to protect the minority from the majority and this will help small producers that are the least able to fight against the government with a guaranteed protection so the government doesn’t put their operation out of business or come up with regulation that hinders farmers’ ability to produce the goods they produce. It’s important because less than 2% of our population are farmers and ranchers. They are the minority and need to be protected. Protecting farmers and ranchers is also about protecting Texans food security.”

Activists at work

Roach said activist groups like the National Humane Society and the ASCPA have highly organized campaigns and “are trying to dictate how to produce food and fiber and what we eat.”

He continued, “During the legislative session, just as we had our Farm Bureau members, farmers, ranchers and producers in the state capitol speaking about this issue, animal rights organizations were there as well and they were putting out their misinformation.”

Roach cautioned there could be a large voter turnout in urban areas. He said, “Some of the bigger cities and municipalities that are forcing some of these regulations also have some big elections on the same day. It’s really important that not only you, get your family and friends, to speak about this to get everyone out to vote so that we can ensure we have enough votes at the end of the day and our message is resounding and more impactful than some of the big cities around the state.”

Pointing to Missouri, Kansas and neighboring Oklahoma, Roach said, “Don’t take it for granted that this is Texas and it will pass. Oklahoma pushed this and it failed - as rural, conservative and agricultural as it is - because some of the activist organizations got their campaign going and dissuaded all the voters to not vote for the right to farm legislation.”

“Insane” regulations Roach shared examples of city regulatory overreach which included rezoning farmland to exclude ag use, regulating the height of hay fields and pastures as if they were residential lots, a nuisance complaint against a farmer citing dust from harvesting corn, limiting locations where barbed wire can be used, citing a farmer with an ordinance violation for hay left on the ground after harvesting and prohibiting the public mating of livestock. In one case, the city mowed the hay down and then billed the farmer who lost his cash crop.

In the latter case, Roach said, “They require you to build a barn, a no-tell, motel for livestock to mate. Some really insane regulations that some of these cities are enforcing.”

He continued, “The right to farm will guarantee protection that you can continue doing a normal generally accepted ag operation without a city or the state coming up with some burdensome regulation. It will require clear and convincing evidence of imminent danger for them to regulate something and it must prove something will happen, not might happen. It doesn’t prevent a nuisance claim from being filed.”

Prop 1 does not interfere with a state agency or political subdivision’s right to regulate animal abuse, danger to animals or crop product, practices that affect a state’s natural resources and chemical use regulated under federal law. Roach said, “It’s really hard to go against a big city or municipality. Courts have made it impossible to win regulatory takings or to recoup business losses. Small farmers and ranchers can’t afford the time or cost to challenge these regulations. It can put them out of business and operation if they challenge these cases. This will guarantee those protections and require cities to have actual imminent threat of something that will happen for them to regulate it.”

GCFB year in review

President Gary Moriarty recapped activities of the last 12 months which included board attendance at the Texas Farm Bureau State Convention, the Summer Leadership Conference, the annual Policy Development Meeting and the President’s Conference.

GCFB made donations to the county’s volunteer fire departments and food pantries, $10,000-plus to the youth fair and awarded five $1,000 scholarships to Grimes County high school graduates.

Moriarty said, “If we don’t work with our youth, who else is going to take over our farms and ranches? We’re really involved with our youth. If they need something, we always try to help them.”

After approval of the minutes and treasurer’s report, Thomas Sechelski, Hershel Perry and Gary Moriarty were reelected to the GCFB board of directors.

Attendees enjoyed barbecue prepared by Brac and Brice Jones and received door prizes or meat packages.