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Businesses derailed by UP action

Businesses derailed by UP action

By Mike Barnett

Terry Buzbee watched pickups roll into his feed store for 32 years. He built Buzbee Feed & Seed, located off busy Highway 6 just east of Waco, into a thriving business. But it doesn’t thrive anymore.

What he sees now are customers pulling up to a blockaded entrance. And moving on.

It’s a hardship for his patrons, who now must navigate their way on a dangerous, narrow back road to buy their feed. It’s a corporate decision for Union Pacific, who closed the railroad crossing, denying access to the business.

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Does EPA know they won the big one?

Does EPA know they won the big one?

By Gene Hall

There was a time when our environment was in serious trouble. The EPA went to war against big time polluters. You know what? They won.

I know there’s a big time activist industry that benefits financially from constantly selling an environmental disaster. Still, no serious person would deny we’ve made great strides in cleaning up and protecting the environment.

But it’s not acceptable to continue the fight using all the heavy artillery that was needed four decades ago. The big guns of government are now mostly churning out economy sapping, crippling and punitive regulations that no longer make sense.

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When we say grassroots, we really mean it

When we say grassroots, we really mean it

By Gene Hall

Fall is my favorite time of the year, even if I have to deal with allergies and even if my favorite football teams struggle a bit.

“Crispness in the air” greets me in the morning. The robe feels good for coffee on the back porch. Then there are the county Farm Bureau annual meetings.

The good folks in five of these county organizations made me part of their conventions this year. That’s about average for me. I get to go and eat good barbecue, sometimes catfish or other fare. I speak on issues and hopefully humorous stories. There was a dessert contest in one county. I ate too much. There are door prizes. There are discussions about how to use Texas Farm Bureau, “The Voice of Texas Agriculture.”

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Proposition 1 will drive funds to fix Texas roads

Proposition 1 will drive funds to fix Texas roads

By Mike Barnett

Texas roads were once the envy of the nation.

Ribbons of highway stretched from Beaumont to El Paso and Brownsville to Amarillo, smooth black asphalt that moved Texas motorists and commerce quickly from here to there. Rural roads were second to none, a web of Farm-to-Market highways that carried crops and livestock to markets to feed a hungry nation.

Something happened. People discovered Texas was a great place to live. They came in droves. 25 million Texans lived here in 2010. Expect 40 million by 2040.

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Time to ditch the rule before EPA ditches you

Time to ditch the rule before EPA ditches you

By Mike Barnett

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to flood agriculture into submission with its revisions of the Clean Water Act.

This map, developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and updated for EPA, shows locations and flow patterns of waterways in Texas.

At first glance, it looks innocent enough. Where it gets problematic is how it could be used.

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Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

By Gene Hall

It’s always refreshing to see a legal matter settled on the basis of law and fact rather than emotion, overheated rhetoric and political theory. This was the case in Hawaii a few days ago when a federal judge ruled against Kauai County’s aggressive and anti-farmer Ordinance 960.

It’s not that silly laws never win in court, but this one, sillier than most, was turned back, though on more narrow grounds than I believe were justified.  Kauai County Ordinance 960 was passed some months ago with very strict curbs on many agricultural practices and the agribusiness firms that operate there. Included were restrictions on pesticide use and biotechnology, or GMOs if you will. The trouble is, that’s the state’s job—one that Hawaii performs aggressively.

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