Texas Sorghum Insider

April 26, 2016

TGSA Completes Restructure Process—On April 6, Texas Grain Sorghum Association completed its two-year process of restructuring its board of directors. The association’s governance will now incorporate a delegate body composed of due-paying members throughout the sorghum industry.

“It is gratifying to watch an industry take ownership of self-help programs intended to strengthen our industry and ultimately make sorghum more profitable for producers,” said Dale Murden, President of TGSA.

The newly formed delegate body – made up of Texas producers, elevator managers and corporate members – will now play an active role in TGSA’s operations. Along with representing all regions of the state’s sorghum industry, the delegate body will serve as a pool from which future board members and officers will be drawn.  The board of directors is presently composed of ten members (three from each region and one at-large member), with a majority being producers.  A survey of the current board and delegate board reveals the association now represents 350,000 acres of production, 265,000 gallons of ethanol production, all major sorghum seed production companies, three elevators, four chemical production companies, and the largest pork production company in Texas. In the coming months TGSA delegates will be assigned to committees ranging from legislative initiatives and regulatory oversight to product innovation and sustainability.  In addition to the committee responsibilities, the delegate body will be tasked with approving the TGSA’s annual budget and nominating regional representation to the board of directors. The delegate body will meet as a whole once a year and will have regional meetings intermittently to direct policy and leadership roles. For more information about TGSA’s restructure, governance or membership please contact Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org  or (512) 788-4599 or Wayne Cleveland at wcleveland@mindpspring.com or (254) 541-5375.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar addresses the crowd during dinner at the first TGSA/TGSB joint annual meeting.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar addresses the crowd during dinner at the first Texas Sorghum joint annual meeting.

TGSA Visits EPA—Patrick Wade joined citrus producers from around the country in a visit to Washington, D.C., last week to discuss crop protection with policymakers and regulatory agencies. The meetings primarily focused on the evolving dialogue between beekeepers and producers regarding the nature and impact of neonicotinoids on the honeybee population. While the group was able to find allies on Capitol Hill who have pledged to defend an empirical approach to pesticide usage, the regulatory agencies were resolute in their insistence that the agriculture industry must do a better job of communicating with the beekeeper groups. While we may disagree with the proportionality of this burden, we are committed to expanding and enhancing our communication efforts moving forward. We were reminded once again during this visit that the single most valuable political asset we have is our story. If we can authentically communicate how chemicals are applied and the personal stake and pride you all have in producing safe crops in healthy environments, then we can preempt activist’s slandering and demagoguery. We encourage you to keep an eye out for upcoming TGSA initiatives to get your story told.

TGSP Hosts Micro Sorghum Seminar—Last week TGSP hosted a micro sorghum seminar in Panama City, Panama. Latin American grain buyers attending the conference heard from swine and beef nutritionists regarding the most effective ways and benefits of sorghum inclusion in feed rations. Texas sorghum producers and elevator managers attending the seminar gave crop outlook and planting progress updates across the state and fielded questions regarding planting intentions for the crop.

“I believe meaningful connections were made during this trade mission,” said Wayne Cleveland, executive director of TGSP. “Latin America, and Mexico in particular continue to be a steadfast market place for Texas sorghum. We greatly value the partnership we have with these buyers and this conference has opened more pathways for grain trade in the future.”

The group had the opportunity to tour the Panama Canal where an expansion is slated to be complete June 26 of this year. The project will create a new lane of traffic through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity. This will allow a huge new increase of barges to go through the Canal and shorten their route by 8000 miles. Currently, about 14,000 ships pass through the Canal yearly—some undoubtedly carrying grain produced by the farmers visiting last week.

Seminar attendees discuss farming practices with the owner of a pineapple plantation outside Panama City, Panama.

Seminar attendees discuss farming practices with the owner of a pineapple plantation outside Panama City, Panama.

 

March 31, 2016

Texas Looks for Opportunity in Cuba-Today, the Texas House will host a joint hearing between the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock and the Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs regarding the opportunities Texas has to promote its agriculture products domestically and internationally. There will be specific emphasis on potential opportunities for trade with Cuba, and our legislative analyst Patrick Wade will deliver testimony on the subject and his personal experiences traveling to the embargoed country last month. Representatives from the rice, wheat, and cattle genetics industries will join Patrick as they weigh the benefits of free trade with Cuba. Cuba has, of course, been under an embargo since 1962, but in 2000 certain narrowly restricted agriculture products were allowed to be exported, along with medical devices and some other goods. This hearing is coming right on heels of President Obama’s visit to the island country last week, where he announced he was ending the restriction on industry-funded checkoff programs spending money on Cuban market research and development. Today marks the first hearing from the House Agriculture committee during the interim and will address one of their six charges from Speaker Joe Straus. For a full list of interim charges, click here.

Chinese Customers Praise Grain Sorghum as a Feed Ingredient-Despite recent reports of deep reform in Chinese “carry-out policy” that has allowed their government to amass somewhere between 4.3 mm bu (USDA estimate) & 9.8 mm bu (private estimate) of corn into reserves, Chinese end-users continue to purchase US grain sorghum. The country whom consumes a whopping 590 mm bu of feed grains monthly, continually expressed to a group, sponsored by the US Grains Council last week, their attraction to grain sorghum stems from it’s “enhanced” nutritional factors in swine and duck rations.  Particularly highlighted was the quality of pork that fit into a higher-end market and the enhanced growth of ducks when using grain sorghum. “Chinese end-users primarily wanted to know what acreage would be for the coming year as well as quality and availability”, said TGSB Executive Director Wayne Cleveland, who accompanied the group.  Cleveland served on a panel that discussed US grains supply and demand as well as provided a platform for approximately 500 end-users to ask questions regarding the US grain sorghum industry.  “With the recent policy announcement by the Chinese government we need to keep steadfast in our minds that we can’t rely on one market to prop up our industry,” Cleveland continued. “We must be diligent in finding and servicing both domestic and foreign markets that are willing to utilize grain sorghum. China gave us a great pricing and acreage expansion opportunity as well as the ability to showcase our product – they like it’s feed values and want to purchase, now its time for us to find the next big market.”

Alvaro Cordero, USGC Washington, Bryan Lohmar, USGC China and Wayne Cleveland, TGSB, field questions regarding US grain supply and quality during the Spring Grains Conference hosted by JC International (China) and US Grains Council.

Alvaro Cordero, USGC Washington, Bryan Lohmar, USGC China and Wayne Cleveland, TGSB, field questions regarding US grain supply and quality during the Spring Grains Conference hosted by JC International (China) and US Grains Council.

March 10, 2016

USGC Introduces Conversion App—The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recently released a grains conversion calculator app and a U.S. grains-in-all-forms exports portal to help members of the global grain trade access critical information more easily. The Council’s grains conversion app converts English units to metric units and vice versa for grains and related measures. The app is available to download for free in the appropriate app stores for Apple, Android and Windows platforms. It also includes an option to switch between multiple languages including English, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, French and Korean. To view the app on iTunes, please visit https://itunes.apple.com/am/app/u.s.-grains-council-conversion/id1078739553?mt=8.

usgc

$1.6 Million EQIP Fund Available— Through a partnership agreement by the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District and the USDA’s NRCS, an estimated $1.6 million in funding through the EQIP has been setup to support the new Master Irrigator Program. Participants who complete the course and receive their Master Irrigator Certification will have priority access to the North Plains GCD EQIP funding. Applications are due by April 6. Additional information can be found here. The Master Irrigator program is an irrigation management curriculum made up of 32 hours of intensive irrigation education conducted over three one-day sessions and one two-day session to show producers how to maximize advanced conservation irrigation management and conservation practices that work together to save water, conserve energy and build healthy soil.

Sugarcane Aphid Management Guide—Texas A&M AgriLife recently created a SCA guide detailing their best management practice recommendations for the pest. An electronic version of the guide is below, if you would like a hard copy contact Katelyn Luckett at katelyn@texassorghum.org. For additional SCA information visit: http://txscan.blogspot.com/
SCA copySCA copy2

 

 

February 23, 2016

Charles Ray Huddleston, TGSA Director, Assumes Role of Sorghum Sector Chairman—Huddleston, from Celina, Texas will take over as chairman at the next USGC meeting in July.  Retiring from the board of directors is Bill Kubecka of Palacious, Texas.  Huddleston will serve as the sorghum industry’s direct link to the USGC board and will attend all regular board meetings as well as make known the needs of the sorghum industry in dealing with international markets.  He has been involved with the US Grains Council for four years as well as serving on both the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Association and Board.  In addition, he has served as county chairman for Collin County Farm Bureau as well as a state director there.

Pecan Farmer wins Water Rights Case—It was a decade in the making but Hondo pecan farmer Glenn Bragg, of the famed Bragg v Edwards Aquifer case was awarded nearly $2.5 million dollars in missed revenue and interest.  At the heart of the case was Bragg’s right to the water under his land as a “historic water rights” user.  In petitioning the EAA (Edwards Aquifer Authority), the water district that supplies water to cities such as San Antonio,  for access to the water under his land, the EAA denied him any access under one petition and limited the other petition to half of what he had asked for.  This is the first instance of an individual suing a government entity for damages and winning.  The supreme court refused to hear the case and perhaps has set a precedent for years to come as individual water rights come to the forefront of a battle between water hungry public water systems and the land owners that control the rights.

EPA Opens Comment Period on Worker Protection Rules—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened a comment period Tuesday, February 16, on draft “Guidelines for Human Exposure Assessment.” These proposed changes are of particular importance for pesticide workers and handlers as they would be subject to the new regulations beginning January 2017. Read more about potential new rules for agriculture in Delta Farm Press. Comments are due March 22, 2016. To submit a comment, follow this link: https://goo.gl/PnOa5J.

February 11, 2016

Comments Due Today for Transform Section 18–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a brief comment period on a Section 18 application by the Texas Department of Agriculture for use of sulfoxaflor, which goes by the brand name Transform, on up to three million acres of sorghum this growing season to control the sugarcane aphid. The EPA issued a cancellation order for sulfoxaflor in November 2015 in response to a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Transform has been an important tool for sorghum producers, used by more than 10 states under the previous Section 18 emergency use exemption. Comments must be submitted by 4 p.m. CST today to be considered. To submit a comment, please follow this link: Sorghum Action Alert.

Over-the-Top Grass Control Approved for Sorghum–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the registration approval of the active ingredient nicosulfuron (active ingredient in DuPont™ ZEST ™ herbicide) that will complete the ingredient in the non-GMO DuPont™ Inzen™ herbicide tolerant sorghum trait. This product will provide growers with the first ever over-the-top grass control for sorghum. DuPont Pioneer and Advanta US have a joint agreement to commercialize DuPont™ Inzen™ herbicide-tolerant sorghum. DuPont received registration approval Nov. 10 from EPA for tolerances to nicosulfuron and rimsulfuron on sorghum varieties containing the DuPont™ Inzen™ herbicide-tolerant trait, an important first step to the approval for the herbicide ZEST™. As new hybrids become available, the sorghum industry will emphasize best management practices to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of this technology.

Texas Sorghum Producers attend Annual D.C. Fly-In–Last week, National Sorghum Producers held their annual fly-in in Washington, D.C. Sorghum producers from over a dozen states joined with NSP to raise knowledge and awareness among legislators regarding the sorghum industry and issues farmers are facing. The producers from Texas had a chance to sit down with congressmen and women from each of their districts, including chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Mike Conaway and the staffs of Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. In each meeting, Texas producers reiterated the importance of stability in agriculture policy and reminded legislators of the far-reaching, real world impacts of over-regulation, unnecessary Farm Bill meddling, and other heavy-handed policy decisions. Each congressman and woman expressed their gratitude at the efforts made by these farmers to get out to The Hill and educate them on the most pressing issues facing agriculture today. In order to ensure the agriculture industry gets its fair political representation, we need constant engagement from authentic voices. This engagement must also occur at the state level, and with less than a year until the next Texas Legislature enters session, we would love to hear what issues you would like to see us work with your representatives to remedy.

Sorghum producers and staff met with House Ag Committee Chairman Conaway last week during NSP's annual fly-in.

Sorghum producers and staff met with House Ag Committee Chairman Conaway last week during NSP’s annual fly-in.

January 25, 2016

Eminent Domain Database – In two weeks, the Comptroller’s office will begin constructing an online database for public and private entities operating with eminent domain authority. The Comptroller’s office has been collecting information for the database, which was established by SB 1812 during last year’s 84th Legislative Session, since December 7th, 2015 and will conclude the bulk of the information gathering phase on February 1st. The database is designed to enhance transparency of the eminent domain process by establishing a continuously updating platform. Each year, entities with eminent domain authority will not only have to provide the basics like their name, address, and contact information, but they will also have to detail:

  • The legal provision(s) granting the entity’s eminent domain authority;
  • The focus or scope of the eminent domain authority granted to the entity;
  • The earliest date the entity had authority to exercise the power of eminent domain;
  • The entity’s taxpayer identification number, if any;
  • Whether the entity exercised its eminent domain authority in the preceding calendar year by filing a condemnation petition under Section 21.012, Property Code

The database will be live and available to browse on September 1st, 2016. We will keep you updated as its development continues. In the mean time, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with current eminent domain entities by exploring the information obtained from SB 1812’s precursor: SB 18 from the 82nd Legislative Session.

Leadership Sorghum Applications Open – If you are interested in applying for Leadership Sorghum Class III, the Sorghum Checkoff will be accepting applications Jan. 4-April 30, 2016. Interviews with selected applicants will take place in late May 2016. Leadership Sorghum Class III will be announced June 30, 2016.

In order to be eligible for Leadership Sorghum, participants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a farmer actively engaged in sorghum production
  • An applicant who is actively engaged in sorghum production but is employed by an operation must have employer approval
  • Men and women are encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens

For more information on Leadership Sorghum and to review the Leadership Sorghum Class III selection criteria, click here.

TWDB now accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2016 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants – The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is now accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2016 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants.

Applications are due to the TWDB no later than Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at 12:00 p.m.

TWDB has up to $600,000 in grant funding available, with applications limited to a maximum of $150,000 per project. Eligible grant categories this year include:

  • Technical assistance, outreach, education, and demonstrations
  • Agricultural water use monitoring equipment
  • Feasibility study for development of a statewide evapotranspiration network
  • Study of irrigation efficiency in Texas

For more information, please view the full request for applications and instructions on how to apply at http://www.twdb.texas.gov/about/contract_admin/request/rfa_02.asp.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Cameron Turner at 512-936-6090 or cameron.turner@twdb.texas.gov for more information about grant opportunities this year.

December 18, 2015

Texas Primary Filing – Monday the 14th was the filing deadline for Texas’s primary elections. Candidates who failed to register by then will not be eligible to appear on the March 1st ballot. The election will decide party nominations for president, Congress, state legislature, and local office, and the races are shaping up to be contentious and unpredictable. There are 20 candidates registered to appear on the ballot for the presidential primary – 12 Republicans and 8 Democrats. Neither John Cornyn nor Ted Cruz’s Senate seats are up in 2016, but every Congressional House seat faces an election. All 36 of those seats will be contested, except for Joaquin Castro from District 20. There are also a host of state legislature elections to keep an eye on: Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer will again contest Senator Jose Menendez for his District 26 seat and Rep. Ruth McClendon’s District 120 seat will be open as she steps down after 20 years of service. Eight candidates will challenge for the open position on the state’s Railroad Commission as well. To see who is running for office in your county, follow this link to the Secretary of State’s website.

Ag/Timber Exemption Renewal Deadline Approaches – All ag/timber registration numbers are expiring on Dec. 31, 2015, regardless of when they were issued. Under state law, agricultural and timber producers can claim sales tax exemptions for some items they use to produce products for sale. If you haven’t already renewed your registration, you need to do so now if you want to keep it. To continue claiming the exemption, you can renew through the Comptrollers office, online or by mail. You can get detailed information on renewals by clicking here or by calling toll-free 1-844-AG RENEW (1-844-247-3639).

Insecticide Efficacy Tests – Danielle Sekula-Ortiz (IPM Agent) and Dr. Raul Villanueva (Extension Entomologist) of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Weslaco, recently published results from trials performed in summer and fall of 2015. Results are illustrated below.

Insecticide efficacy tests in Summer of 2015

July17

July30

Insecticide efficacy tests in Fall of 2015

Trial1

Trial2

table

 *For both Fall efficacy trials the insecticide treatments were replicated 3  times randomly

December 4, 2015

“Patriarchs” Retire from Grain Sorghum Board—Jack Cobb (Plains, TX) and Dale Spurgin (Allen, TX) both retired from the TGSB board of directors after 60 years of combined service. Mr. Spurgin and Mr. Cobb both began their years of service in the 1980’s essentially when the state program was just starting.

“Both men were instrumental in starting programs as well as guiding them through their awkward infancies into what we know today as a successful national checkoff (USCP and TGSB),” said Wayne Cleveland, Executive Director of TGSB. “As well as a highly functional membership program, NSP and TGSA.  Not many have had that level of awareness and tenacity but they both endured and conquered and for that we are most grateful.”

In addition to serving on the state boards both men served on national boards.  Mr. Spurgin served as the Chairman of the Board of the US Grains Council in 2001. “Their humility and desire to hear all voices from our industry is what defined their terms here.  They are both gentlemen that always erred on the side of the grower and remained true to their vision of a vibrant industry, of which we will enjoy for years to come.”

Jack Cobb (left) and Dale Spurgin (right) receive plaques in honor of their service to the sorghum industry at their final Texas Sorghum Board meeting.

Jack Cobb (left) and Dale Spurgin (right) receive plaques in honor of their service to the sorghum industry at their final Texas Sorghum Board meeting.

EPA Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) 2015 Ruling—On November 30th, the EPA released its final ruling for the Renewable Fuel Standard, covering volume requirements for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 marketing years. The 2014 and 2015 levels reflect the increase in actual biofuel usage over the past two years, while the 2016 standards are intended to continue that upwards trend. Under these new requirements, advanced biofuel volumes will increase 25% from 2015 to 2016 – from 2.88 billion gallons to 3.61 billion gallons.

RFS1

In 2012, the EPA classified grain sorghum as an D5 Renewable Identification Number advanced biofuel. This categorization is determined by biofuel’s net reduction of lifecycle (both the production and processing of the fuel) greenhouse gas emissions. According to this 2012 ruling, the EPA declared that sorghum not only met the 20% lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction threshold to qualify as a renewable fuel, but that it also met the 50% reduction threshold to be categorized as an advanced biofuel.

RFS2

In finalizing these future volume requirements, the EPA is further committing to the viability of biofuels as an effective, environmentally-conscious solution for this country’s future energy needs. We look forward to continuing to expand the role of sorghum in that commitment.
All graphs, charts, and data available through the EPA at http://www2.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/final-renewable-fuel-standards-2014-2015-and-2016-and-biomass-based

Defense Against the Sugarcane Aphid—The sugarcane aphid guide is now posted to the USCP website: http://sorghumcheckoff.com/pest-management/. This booklet contains the most up-to-date information USCP has compiled regarding best management practices for SCA. If you would prefer a hard copy booklet, please contact Faith Jurek at faithj@sorghumcheckoff.com.

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November 17, 2015

Ninth Circuit Court Gets Sulfoxaflor Decision Wrong, NSP Insists on Solutions The following is a press release provided by National Sorghum Producers – The Environmental Protection Agency last week issued a cancellation order for all previously registered Sulfoxaflor products, including Transform. This cancellation order is in response to the Sept. 10, 2015, ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against EPA, which became effective Nov. 12. Transform was widely used to control sugarcane aphids in sorghum during the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons. More than 10 states received Section 18 emergency use exemption to use Transform, mitigating yield, revenue and acreage loss in thousands of U.S. sorghum acres.

“Transform has been an important tool for sorghum farmers across the nation to combat sugarcane aphids,” said National Sorghum Producers Past Chairman J.B. Stewart, “and as an organization, we will work as hard as we can to ensure the product is available next year through the Section 18 process. NSP also stands ready to support Dow AgroSciences and the EPA in re-registering this essential product.”

“This is an example of an activist court,” Stewart said, “and as an organization, we plan to do our part in pushing back on these nonsensical court decisions that unfortunately are becoming more frequent and to the detriment of farmers and ranchers across the nation. We must go to bat for them and keep tools available as we face stricter regulations and declining prices on the farm during trying and uncertain times.”

“This court is known for making rulings that align with activist organizations at the expense of agriculture,” Stewart said, “and we will continue to fight to keep products available for our producers that help them remain profitable.”

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Notice of Intent for TGSA to Change By-Laws at December Meeting – The TGSA board of directors will consider a plan to change it’s board structure by adding a delegate body to the current structure at a November 30 meeting in Amarillo. In addition TGSA will discuss and take action on forming a working committee structure that will require modifications to the current by-law structure. Any dues paying member of TGSA is invited to attend the meeting and provide input and suggestions. For more information please contact Wayne Cleveland at wcleveland@mindpsring.com or call 254.541.5375.

Global Food Security – In 2012 DuPont collaborated with the Economist Intelligence Unit to create the Global Food Security Index, an exhaustive ranking of each nation’s relative food security as weighed by a variety of factors. While you can sort and filter these rankings by variables such as affordability, availability, and political risk, the composite rankings tell a singular story: The United States has the most secure food supply in the world. When considering sorghum’s relationship to the global food infrastructure, it is important to remember that the nations purchasing our product aren’t often as stable as the United States. Consider the top five importers of American sorghum (per U.S. Grains Council):

PWchart

In addition, considering many of these nations primarily import sorghum for human consumption, there is considerable room for growth in trading opportunities there. We at TGSP will be monitoring these trends and relaying new developments, but also encourage you to explore the data here.

October 23, 2015

Latin America Trade Team Visits Texas – A U.S. Grains Council (USGC) trade team of Colombian and Peruvian poultry and swine producers and grain importers traveled to Texas Oct. 19-21 as part of a learning journey on purchasing U.S. sorghum and incorporating it into animal rations.

Blake Tregellas shows the group a field of sorghum during harvest near Perryton, Texas.

Blake Tregellas shows the group a field of sorghum during harvest near Perryton, Texas.

The trade team spent two-and-a-half days in Texas, and during that time, met with industry representatives from producers to end-users. Some of the meetings on their agenda included:

  • Meetings with grain merchants representing Gavilon and Attebury
  • Tour of Attebury’s transloading containerization facility, Saginaw
  • Meeting and elevator tour, Gary Holcomb, Ag Producers Coop, Sunray
  • Swine feeding seminar, Jason Frantz, Texas Farms
  • Farm tour, Blake Tregellas, Tregellas Family Farms, Perryton
  • Wrap-up dinner, James Born, Little B Farms, Booker

Peru and Colombia are promising markets for U.S. sorghum. In Peru, there is an opportunity for U.S. sorghum due to a duty preference and no quota on sorghum imports. Likewise, Colombia has a duty-free quota for U.S. sorghum, however the volume is small and will limit overall demand until the tariff rate quota is phased out.

Fifth and Final Round of Interim Charges Announced – Last week, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced the fifth and final round of interim charges for the Texas Senate to study while the legislature is not in session. Each of the Senate’s 14 primary committees received a bevy of charges. Some charges – such as requesting the Finance committee to examine property tax relief – capitalized on momentum gained from the recent legislative session. Others – like High Education’s charge to investigate tuition deregulation – indicate a renewed effort at failed legislative initiatives. Many of the Lt. Governor’s charges will shape the approach the 85th Legislature takes to agriculture policy in 2017. For instance, the following subjects will be examined:

  • Eminent domain and ensuring fair compensation
  • Implementation of pending EPA regulations and Waters of the U.S. developments
  • Surface water and groundwater rights and regulations
  • TDA Market Development Services expansion
  • Monitoring TWDB’s approach to brackish groundwater zones

The list of the Senate’s interim charges can be found in its entirety on the Senate’s website http://www.senate.state.tx.us/. We will await the House’s interim charges and let you know how you can get involved in the interim study process to best ensure your legislature understands the true needs of its constituents.

A Closer Look at Constitutional Amendments – On November 3rd, Texans will take to the voting booths to decide whether to adopt seven constitutional amendments passed by the 84th Texas Legislature. These proposed amendments already had to pass a 2/3 supermajority vote in both the Senate and the House to qualify for the upcoming ballot. If November 3rd is an inconvenient date for you, early voting began on October 19th and will last until October 30th. You can find the full text of each proposed amendment here, but below is an overview of what to expect if they pass:

  • Proposition 1 (SJR 1) – A cornerstone of the 84th Legislature’s much-debated tax relief initiative, SJR 1 seeks to increase the homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. By adopting this amendment, Texas homeowners would be able to exempt an additional $10,000 from the ad valorem property taxes imposed by their school district. The average homeowner can expect to save about $120-130 a year. This would mark the first increase of the homestead exemption since 1997.
  • Proposition 2 (HJR 75) – HJR 75 seeks to correct an unintentional loophole that resulted from a previous constitutional amendment aimed at alleviating the property tax burden on a surviving spouse of a disabled veteran. The previous amendment had not covered surviving spouses of veterans who passed away before 2011, this amendment corrects that error.
  • Proposition 3 (SJR 52) – SJR 52 seeks to repeal the requirement that various statewide offices – Comptroller, Attorney General, etc. – physically reside in Austin.
  • Proposition 4 (HJR 73) – HJR 73 seeks to permit charities of professional sports teams to conduct charitable raffles as governed by general law.
  • Proposition 5 (SJR 17) – SJR 17 seeks to increase the population maximum for county maintenance of private roads from 5,000 to 7,500. This would allow remote, rural counties to expend public funds on private road repair and construction. This amendment would expand such a right to approximately 20 additional counties.
  • Proposition 6 (SJR 22) – SJR 22 seeks to recognize the constitutional right of Texans to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.
  • Proposition 7 (SJR 5) – SJR 5 seeks to adjust tax revenue streams towards spending on state transportation. If the sales & use tax and motor vehicle sales & rental tax each exceed certain thresholds, then those surpluses will be redirected from the General Revenue Fund to the State Highway Fund. Legislators have declared this the “largest single increase in transportation funding in Texas history.”
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