Kenneth Dierschke, President, Texas Farm BureauThe following excerpt is from President Kenneth Dierschke’s address to convention delegates during TFB’s 77th annual meeting Dec. 5 in Waco.
For the Texas Farm Bureau—for the people who grow our food—this is a crucial time.

It is a time of potential danger and enormous expectations, a time of great challenge and potential reward. It is a time to harvest that which has been sown by generations of our members and leaders. 

This is Texas Farm Bureau’s time—if we have the will to make it happen.

At the end of 2010, we have much to celebrate. Our membership is at an all-time high of more than 450,000 families. Our service programs are as good as any in all of Farm Bureau—far better than most. AGFUND, our independent political action fund, achieved an 80 percent mark of success in the November elections. 

Yet we know that our success is merely the foundation to build on what lies ahead. 

Our legislative agenda is on track.  It seems that much of what we work on these days is like a marathon—not a sprint. But our Texas Farm Bureau team has stayed on track. The finish line for some of our most important legislative goals seems very close.

First and foremost, eminent domain is our top priority. I’m happy to report that eminent domain reform will be designated as an emergency item in the upcoming session, assuring quick passage.

This session of the Legislature also could yield landmark decisions on water policy. At stake are cornerstones of Texas water law, including right of capture, local control and historical use.

What happened in the November election was, in part, a wipeout of the moderates. What’s left is a large number of elected officials who are either on the right or the left. 

On the national level, there’s a pretty good chance that Congress will be more polarized than ever. It could be difficult to muster the necessary compromise to address the huge challenges our nation still faces.

With a huge class of freshmen legislators heading to Washington in January, we have our work cut out for us. We must explain the importance of agriculture to the nation. 

The story was much the same in Texas. Republicans picked up an astonishing 23 seats in the 150-member Texas House. With so many new faces in Austin, we’ve got some work to do there, as well.

This Congress likely will write the next farm bill. It’s going to be hard work. A curious blend of critics from both the right and the left have opposed price supports for farmers. Unfortunately, their arguments are ill-informed and wrong.

Farm bills go against the flow in a divided and uncompromising Congress. They always have been bipartisan efforts. In the past, when our elected officials actually got down to the business of writing a farm bill—and came to understand that they held America’s food and fiber security in their hands—they’ve done the right thing. It will be a courageous vote in today’s ugly political climate.

It’s safe to say that the 2012 Farm Bill will be different and probably smaller.  I do believe, however, that we will preserve critical safety net provisions of the federal farm program. It’s not a done deal, though. 

Farm Bureau’s role in this is to speak up for rational solutions and common sense. We will fight for our members, recounting the joys and challenges of feeding and clothing our nation and the world. Our system of producing food and fiber is not perfect—but it’s the best system this often-hungry planet has ever known.

We’ve all learned to live with change, and Texas Farm Bureau is no different. Change should not be feared but embraced as a way to make Farm Bureau better, bigger, stronger and even more capable of meeting the challenges that face all Texans.

It’s up to all of us to make 2011 –“Texas Farm Bureau’s time.”

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