Meet Drew Springer: Chair of the House Agriculture Committee
With rural representation waning in the Texas Legislature, dairy farmers and others in agriculture industries rely on the House and Senate Agriculture committees to represent their interests. This session the House Agriculture Committee is chaired by Rep. Drew Springer of Muenster in Cooke County, home to a small number of Texas dairies.
This legislative session you assumed the chairmanship of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee. What are your goals this session for the committee?
To advance and protect Texas agriculture. There are both new growth areas like olive oil and hemp that require attention as they begin to gain momentum. Additionally, there is oversight at the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas A&M AgriLife, which are a part of Texas agriculture success.
As both committee chair and as someone who grew up and lives in a rural area of Texas, how do you keep agriculture and rural affairs relevant in today’s increasingly urbanized Legislature?
As Texas growth over the last couple of decades has been in the big cities, it is important to educate members of the importance of agriculture. The current legislative body respects what agriculture has done and is doing and, for the most part, is open to help.
What are your priorities for the 86th legislative session, and why?
To protect rural healthcare and rural education. While the urban and suburban areas are looking to solve their problems, it is easy for unintended consequences to affect rural areas. To represent the rural Christian, conservative values of my district. On a statewide basis, my priorities are to reduce property taxes and fix school finance.
What is the biggest challenge facing Texas, and why? Has this changed since you were first elected to the Texas House?
Dealing with the rapid growth as people flee high tax/business unfriendly states for Texas. With a growing state, property values have grown, but unfortunately property taxes have grown even faster. Texas needs to rebalance its tax structure to be more towards consumption.
As you point out on your website, your massive House District 68 is larger than eight U.S. states. What are the challenges of representing such a massive geographic area?
It’s always the time between towns. Driving over 50,000 miles a year, I couldn’t do it without a cell phone to both discuss issues to talk to clients from work (yes, $7,200 a year from the state requires we work for a living, too). That said, I wouldn’t trade my district with anyone.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our dairy farmer members?
People’s greatest misperception of ag is that it’s been the same for 100 years. My wife grew up on a small dairy where in the ‘60s a family could prosper. But with technological advancements, they all have been replaced where you must have a scalable operation. And today the conversation is about robots and drones which will make the rancher even more productive.