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TAD shifting focus to upcoming legislative session

By Darren Turley, TAD executive director

Just when we think 2020 could not get any crazier, how about that election! It’s easy to see changes are upon us. Texas stayed red, but not by much.

Also, the elections aren’t quite over. The Senate District 30 runoff election is set to start with early voting on Dec. 9 and election day on Dec. 19. SD 30 covers a number of counties that include dairy farmers in Archer, Clay and Erath counties. I hosted candidate Drew Springer, currently a House member and chairman of the House Agriculture committee, in Dublin recently to introduce a rural Texas advocate to the community.

You can read more about the SD 30 race in the newsletter article from Texas Association of Dairymen’s (TAD) governmental relations team.

TAD is one of a number of commodity organizations that belong to the Texas Agriculture Council (TAC). By working collectively through TAC, we can be a stronger voice at the Texas Capitol for agriculture and rural issues. TAC has already begun to discuss issues likely to be considered during the 87th Texas Legislature, which convenes the second Tuesday in January. We know a number of bills are in the works to be presented that will impact agriculture and TAD, and bill filing began on Nov. 9.

Being strong advocates will be more important than ever this session, as it is still unknown whether we will be allowed inside the Capitol due to the ongoing (and worsening, as of now) COVID-19 pandemic. While this legislative session will have a different feel, some things will remain the same. We do know that legislators will have to balance a two-year budget (as the pandemic has reduced state revenue) and eventually address redistricting.

Again, TAD’s governmental relations team has more about the upcoming legislative session in our newsletter.

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The biggest topic of discussion in the dairy industry is definitely the upcoming implementation of the three-tier pricing program by Greater Southwest Agency that includes DFA Southwest and Select Milk Producers. Under the system, farmers are paid less money if they produce milk amounts above certain thresholds. This is expected to especially be a factor in the spring, when milk production is at its highest level of the year.

Producers are very concerned about how selling less milk for several months of the year will impact their livelihood. Many had been planning to increase production. Others question the need for this program at farms below the Caprock.

The truth is that the cost for Texas dairy farms to dispose of excess milk will be very detrimental to every farm’s milk check.

Many farms are asking for a variance in the production they are allotted by the program, but only a few will be chosen for any additional milk allotment. This leaves many farms looking for creative solutions to increase their economic advantage in the face of penalties for extra production.

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I recently attended the Western States Dairy Producers Association meeting in Idaho, where I learned more about the economic conditions of Idaho’s dairy industry. Texas and Idaho both are experiencing year-over-year production increases with no planned expanded processing plant capacity. Also, like Texas, Idaho is losing dairy farmers while increasing its milk production. One thing I realized is that the need to recruit a new processing plant to Texas is crucial for our state’s dairy industry to grow in the future.

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As we near Thanksgiving, the Texas Association of Dairymen is very thankful for our healthy industry and our hardworking dairy farmers. Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy your family during these crazy times.

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