TAD hits the road to educate legislators, candidates about dairy
By Darren Turley, executive director
Primary elections are underway – early voting now, Election Day on March 3. See the report from TAD’s governmental relations team on specific legislative and congressional offices in Texas on the ballot.
As the election cycle gets underway, our governmental relations team and I have been busy visiting with legislators and candidates to better educate them on the Texas dairy industry and its impact on the state economy. While the focus now is on elections, we also are preparing for the 87th legislative session, which starts in January 2021. The current Legislature includes three veterinarians, and a fourth is running for House District 60 open seat being vacated by Mike Lang from Granbury.
Our relaxed informal visits are with individuals TAD can count on to understand and support the dairy industry. Some have dairy roots, such as Reps. Mary Gonzalez of El Paso and Ernest Bailes of Shepherd. And it’s easy to discuss agricultural matters with those who live in and/or represent rural areas.
However, urban legislators easily are in the majority. TAD must continue to work hard to build these relationships and educate them on agricultural issues. An amazing statistic: Harris County (Houston) representatives outnumber all the representatives whose districts are west of Interstate 35!
The need to know your legislators is very important and will only become more vital as the Legislature prepares to undergo the once-a-decade redistricting following the 2020 U.S. census.
In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 census either online, by phone or by mail. Completion of the census by as many people as possible is critical for rural Texas – please make sure each of you is counted, and encourage you family, friends and employees to complete the census.
Elections and legislative visits are not the only thing keeping TAD busy. We continue to work with the Texas Animal Health Commission on the implementation of a secure milk supply plan. I’m also meeting with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to discuss the Livestock Indemnity Program and the national perspective around indemnity funds. The need for biosecurity on farms is more important to producers than ever since the available funds for herd buyouts are coming to an end, unless there is a very strong multistate legislative action.
Interest in using carbon credits to fund digestor applications in Texas has resurfaced. A few options look promising, but more research and negotiations will be needed before construction can occur.
2020 is off and running! TAD has plenty of things to work on to help Texas dairy farmers. Stay warm and be sure to vote!