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Fertilizer industry is serious about safety

Fertilizer industry is serious about safety

By Gary Joiner

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is in Waco. It’s hosting a public meeting to outline its report on the explosion of a fertilizer plant in West in 2013. The explosion obliterated the facility, killed 15 people and caused widespread damage to more than 150 nearby buildings. The event sent major shockwaves through the Texas farm and ranch community.

The report says federal agencies need to tighten their standards for ammonium nitrate. OSHA and EPA must do a better job, the board believes.

Who’s already doing a better job is the industry itself, those who handle and store fertilizer products. An organization called ResponsibleAg is helping.

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In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

By Gene Hall

In my more cynical moments, I suspect that the great confusion and controversy surrounding agriculture today is on purpose.

In this mindset, I can easily conclude that those organizations that survive by demonizing modern agriculture manipulate the language and the labels to suit their own purposes. In this way, passions are inflamed. Money is raised. A public is misled. Calling you “Big Ag” could mean “Big Bucks” for me even though all I’ve contributed to the debate are a couple of politically charged words.

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An agricultural view of the race for the White House

An agricultural view of the race for the White House

By Gene Hall

The following views are my own. Neither my employer, Texas Farm Bureau, nor its AGFUND PAC has ever endorsed a candidate for president. As an ag writer for most of four decades, I am compelled to ask myself, “What kind of candidate would be good for agriculture?” This is not, however, an endorsement or even a hint of one.

An affinity for agriculture issues would help, as would an understanding of farm and ranch people. Farm and ranch families now comprise less than two percent of the population. Leadership pragmatic enough to listen and compromise on agricultural legislation is the only way anything to do with agriculture even gets a vote.

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Leadership and action will take us places

Leadership and action will take us places

By Russell Boening

These are excerpts from President Russell Boening’s address at the organization’s 82nd annual meeting in Arlington.

Texas Farm Bureau has demonstrated the ability to unite the farm and ranch families of Texas, in effect creating another kind of family—a people united by a common bond of belief and of mutual interest.

You’ve witnessed the organization working for Texas agriculture and many of you have been part of that.

We strengthened eminent domain laws. We’ve come a long way, but there is more to be done.

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Legal clouds still hang over the Red River

Legal clouds still hang over the Red River

By Russell Boening

A lawsuit filed recently on behalf of landowners and county officials by the Texas Public Policy Foundation is the latest attempt to recover private property claimed by the federal government along the Texas-Oklahoma border. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Wilbarger County farmer and rancher Ken Aderholt.

Just a few weeks ago, I visited the Red River area where the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) still claims as many as 30,000 acres of family farms, homes and other private property. I received briefings on the situation as I toured the area.

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Godspeed, Governor Perry

Godspeed, Governor Perry

By Gene Hall

This is one of those occasions when I must say that the opinions here are mine alone.

I know Rick Perry a bit. My career as a spokesman for Texas Farm Bureau began almost exactly the same time as his first statewide political victory. Rick became Texas Commissioner of Agriculture in 1990. I was the moderator that year of a special satellite broadcast beamed to almost 200 county Farm Bureau offices in Texas. Karl Rove was on the stage that night. So were the real architects of Perry’s victory over Jim Hightower: TFB President S.M. True and Executive Director Vernie Glasson. We used primitive satellite technology to introduce Rick to Texas farmers and ranchers. They liked him. Many still do.

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