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.

In Washington, we joined with the American Farm Bureau Federation, state Farm Bureaus across the land and many others to oppose the oppressive, heavy-handed and ill-advised regulatory juggernaut of EPA.

We fear this kind of power. Everyone should. The WOTUS rule is so arbitrary that EPA representatives can impose it virtually at will.

Perhaps an even more blatant misuse of that power is underway right now.

When Farm Bureau member Tommy Henderson lost his property to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) more than three decades ago, it was because a federal judge made a very bad decision.

Over the last two years, significant progress has been made. Tommy Henderson got his land back. Texas Farm Bureau has negotiated with BLM on behalf of landowners along the Red River. However, there are still legal clouds hanging over the Red River.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, agriculture endured a $23 billion cut in farm program spending. Yet, a critical part of the farm bill remains in the form of crop insurance. It is the only remaining “safety net” for our nation’s agricultural producers!

Only a few weeks ago we learned—as part of the budget deal—an additional $3 billion was to be cut from crop insurance.

This was a deep and severe cut that raised serious doubts about whether crop insurance could survive. This quickly became another of those make-or-break issues that we could not allow to happen.

We secured a promise from Congressional leadership that crop insurance would be protected. Bipartisan friendships in Congress, especially on the agriculture committees, were vital in getting this done.

While we may have won this skirmish, the war continues.

We’ll face future disappointments, but Farm Bureau will advocate for good government. Hopefully, a smarter and more efficient government.

At our Leadership Conference in Austin last January, I said that one of my goals was to expand leadership within the ranks of our own organization.

The success of legislative stars like Kyle Kacal, DeWayne Burns and Andy Murr prove that we have talent in the organization. Leadership on our own board of directors has risen out of the Young Farmer & Rancher program, AgLead and FarmLead. This shows we have the tools to develop that talent.

The time is now for all of us to ask, “What can I do? How can I make a difference?”

From the first days of this organization, born in the desperation of a great depression, we’ve been driven to prove that no one farmer or rancher is ever alone.

We will be in the places you cannot be, asking the questions you would ask, seeing that agriculture’s viewpoint is heard. We are Texas Farm Bureau. We are, and will always be, the Voice of Texas Agriculture!

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