We welcome all those to our cause who would join in the fight for the preservation, with dignity, of the family farmer and the rural community.
We encourage into our ranks all farm families in Texas, so that we can work together for a just and adequate program for family farmers.
We reaffirm our strong belief in freedom and we cherish it as a part of our American heritage. We recognize that individual initiative is basic to our American way, but we are equally aware that mutual assistance and cooperation account for many of the noblest achievements of our American system.
We pledge ourselves to be well informed and politically aware and to guard every person's privilege to equal opportunity. We will not tolerate any measure local, state or national that would deny this privilege.
We believe that as tillers of the soil our work is close to the Almighty Creator God and, beseeching His guidance, we solemnly adopt the following policy:
The principle of parity is a true standard which measures the degree of balance, equality and fairness applicable to all economic sectors.
We reaffirm our basic commitment to the parity formula (using the base years 1910-1914) established by law as the standard by which to determine prices for agricultural commodities that are fair to farmers and the public.
The parity formula measures the purchasing power for farm commodities in respect to goods and services purchased by farmers for farm production and family living, wages of hired farm labor, interest paid on farm debts, and taxes paid on farm real estate.
Parity, as applied to prices for any agricultural commodity, shall be that price for the commodity which will give to the commodity a purchasing power with respect to articles that farmers buy equivalent to the purchasing power of such commodities in the base period; and in the case of all commodities for which the base period is the period of August 1909 to July 1914, which will also reflect current interest payments per acre on farm indebtedness secured by real estate, tax payments per acre on farm real estate, and freight rates during the base period. The base period in case of all agricultural commodities except tobacco shall be the period August 1909 to 1914.
II. PUBLIC RELATIONS
We urge Farmers Union to initiate a continuing public relations campaign designed to:
1. Encourage economic specialists to calculate the cost of farm operations just as they would any other business by including the cost of operator labor, management return on high risk, land costs and a reasonable profit when releasing cost of production figures to the public, (The present practice causes people to assume that farm products can be produced at much less than parity and also causes people to compare profits of other segments of industry on an unfair basis with agricultural returns.)
2. We believe that USDA and all other economic specialists should use only farm income and no off farm income in reporting net farm income figures.
3. Utilize every means to inform consumers and their representative in Congress of farm prices that remain low in relation to actual cost of production and of the stabilizing benefits at the retail level that result from the proper and effective administration of price support programs, including direct payments.
4. Considering it is of utmost importance to promote the use and consumption of American agricultural products, we solicit the help of our suppliers of inputs and processors, to promote American agricultural products as well as the American farmers, in their advertisements.
5. Acquaint the consuming public with farm products and the farm programs by illustrating the way in which the consumer's dollar is distributed throughout the various marketing channels.
6. Explain and disseminate Farmers Union policies and goals through a nationwide program.
7. Encourage individual involvement through established committees in each county with specific objectives of working through the printed and electronic media to refute false and misleading propaganda and to insure that controversial issues are fairly presented.
8. Inform the American public that reasonable farm commodity reserves are a vital part of our defense program.
9. We demand that the USDA change their formula for calculating net farm income so it will not include "non money" income. Non money income includes the value of farm products consumed directly in farm households and the rental value of housing provided by farm dwellings.
10. Protect all Farmers Union members by informing them when an individual company or corporation does not adhere to its agreements or contracts.
11. Promote much closer communications with consumer groups, cooperatives, political organizations, educators and other farm organizations which have common goals with Farmers Union.
12. We encourage the establishment of an information program showing that increased agricultural exports at parity prices would reduce trade deficits.
III. STRONGER BARGAINING POWER FOR FARMERS
1. A national and international food and fiber policy should be adopted.
2. Agricultural producers should be well represented in the making of any international commodity agreements.
3. Since the supply and demand feature is not adequate to protect agricultural producers' bargaining powers, we urge National and Texas Farmers Union to continue to develop methods to obtain strong bargaining power in the market places by such means as marketing, bargaining and farm supply cooperatives.
4. We urge Congress to enact bargaining legislation favorable to farmers.
IV. FARM INCOME IMPROVEMENT
BE IT RESOLVED that the Secretary of Agriculture take immediate steps to modify the administration of the farm program so that total production of the basic commodities will balance supply with demand and assist in avoiding price depressing carry overs that exist now and projected to develop in the future.
V. COMMERCIAL FAMILY FARM
Texas Farmers Union believes in strengthening and encouraging the commercial family farm and producing top quality foods.
A "family farm" is an agricultural production unit, economically adequate to sustain modern United States standards of living, using land and other capital investment, operated by one or more farm operator families, who provide the management, take the economic risks and do most of the work required to operate the unit.
A sound farm program is imperative to keep farm families on the land and preserve rural America.
VI. NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIC RESERVES
1. We support the reenactment of the Farmers Owned Reserve and adequate funding for the Strategic Grain Reserve Program.
2. In addition to a farmer held reserve, we recommend that Congress pass legislation authorizing the establishment of a national strategic reserve supply of cotton, wheat, feed grains, soybeans, peanuts and rice equal to one half of a one year domestic consumption of these commodities, and that reserve supplies of these commodities be bought from domestic growers at not less than 90 percent of parity. Such commodities should not be called from the strategic reserve at less than 110 percent parity based upon the 1910 1914 Parity Index. Farmers should be encouraged to have their own on farm storage; however, when the stored commodity becomes part of the national strategic reserve, the farmer should be compensated for the storage at a current commercial rate.
3. The strategic reserve commodities should not be considered or included as stocks or reported as stocks in the statistical reports, but as reserves in the upcoming year's production report.
4. Any international grain reserve agreement should provide that each country own, and pay storage, with interest, on their share of the international reserve held in the United States.
VII. COMMODITY PROGRAMS
1. Commodity programs should be designed to provide assistance to family farms. Payment limitations on farm program benefits should be made on a deescalating scale so as to provide the greatest benefit to family farmers.
2. Farm programs should be announced in their entirety, well in advance of planting time in all areas of the country.
3. The members of Texas Farmers Union reaffirm their commitment to full parity for farm prices based on the 1910 1914 Parity Index.
4. We demand that Congress remove the caps on loan rates and set loan rates at not less than 90 percent of parity. We favor maintaining a target price and that it is set at 100% of parity.
5. Farm program projected yields should be based on actual proven production on records provided by producers, with allowance for farm weighed and stored grain adjusted for disaster, at not less than 90 percent of previous year's projected yield.
6. We support an established standard procedure, based on actual sales, to determine a posted county price to be used to determine LDP's and counter cyclical payments.
7. We oppose any mandatory check off program for any commodity.
8. We urge Congress to reinstate the disaster provision of the 1973 Act, adequately adjusted for inflation with payments made immediately after certifying losses.
9. All payments to landlords and tenants should be made on the same basis as rental agreements. All government farm benefits should be recoupled to production.
10. We believe that any limitations on payments should not be so low as to cripple or destroy supply management programs.
11. Any producer who relinquishes government payment for CRP acres should have limited grazing privileges in a declared disaster situation.
12. Farmer held reserves should not be released under any circumstances, at less than 100 percent of parity nor called at less than 120 percent of parity. No CCC stocks should be released at less than 140 percent of parity.
13. We urge that interest be waived on farmer held reserve programs.
14. Believing in democracy, we prefer producer referenda as a condition for mandatory supply management programs.
We further believe that in periods of agricultural depression, mandatory supply management is an essential remedy, and we urge the Congress and Administration to take all steps necessary toward authorizing producer referenda for mandatory supply management.
15. Farmers should not be subject to penalty due to tardiness or errors of the USDA and FCIC.
16. Whereas, aflatoxin continues to be a serious problem and threatens to destroy buyers' confidence in the commodity, causing depressed markets;
BE IT RESOLVED that Texas Farmers Union and National Farmers Union encourage that USDA, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the State Chemist office do the research necessary to devise a system and technology for uniform aflatoxin testing that will avoid conflicting test results. Since it is apparent that more testing is going to be required, the new system must be efficient and rapid enough that loads of commodities can be tested without undue delay. Once a load of any commodity has been tested, it will be certified, and cannot be re tested.
17. Interest rates for Commodity Credit Corporation loans should not be higher to the farmer than the cost of the loan to CCC.
18. We urge the current and future farm bills be improved by introduction of a supply management provision which is triggered by market prices.
19. STATE ISSUE: We urge the Governor and the Texas Legislature to look into the problems involved in all commodity contracting and to correct present legislation to make both buyer and seller liable under the contract.
To improve the various commodity programs, we make recommendations as follows:
20. We oppose the use of government funds or check off dollars for the research or development of commodity production in foreign countries.
21. Whereas, the Comprehensive Cost of Production Study is done annually by the USDA, and
Whereas, this report is no longer presented to Congress since the enactment of the Fair Act,
Be it resolved that we demand the reinstatement of mandatory reporting of the USDA's Comprehensive Cost of Production Study to Congress.
1. We favor increasing the cotton loan price to 90 percent of parity.
2. Cotton projected yields should be based on actual proven production over the last three years, adjusted for disaster yields each year at not less than 90 percent of the previous year's projected yield. We recommend that yields shall be adjusted to 100 percent of the payment yield for natural disaster.
3. We continue to support that the price of cotton be established on grade and staple through the use of High Volume Instrument classing, and bonuses paid for higher strength cotton.
4. We urge direct election of members of the Cotton Board and Cotton, Inc. Board of Directors by a majority of producers in referendum, with expenses of the referendum paid out of USDA appropriations.
We urge the Secretary of Agriculture to call a periodic referendum to determine if producers favor continuing the cotton research and development assessment program.
5. We urge a reseal type program for cotton comparable to the feed grain program, in an effort to prevent government stocks being dumped on the market at harvest time.
6. The cost of instrument classing should be paid by USDA with sales proceeds of loose cotton samples.
7. Re classing of government owned cotton sold to processors or exporters discriminates against the producers, CCC, and local markets. We therefore urge that government regulations be revised to assure that the first classing of cotton prevails.
8. We recommend that barky cotton not be discounted.
9. We oppose all efforts to lower net income by government or industry action by use of net weight trading.
10. We urge that a loan price on cotton seed be established in relation to other oil seed crops and be not less than 90 percent of parity.
11. We urge that the United States Department of Agriculture continue programs aimed at complete eradication of all cotton insects and diseases and set up research programs funded by state agencies (paid for by the USDA appropriations) aimed at cutting costs of marketing.
12. We urge an increased effort by USDA to develop both domestic and export cotton markets with a goal of increasing net exports yearly. (Cotton exported under PL480 and other government programs should be of the qualities in largest supply.)
13. We urge the use and promotion of domestic cotton products whenever possible in order to save petroleum products and have a cleaner, healthier environment. We urge the use of cotton bagging to be used in packaging of cotton or a suitable biodegradable plastic derived from renewable sources, such as grain starch.
14. When a purpose exists we favor allowing farmers to maintain their base acreage allotment with full government protection in the event of prevented planting.
15. Once farmers have transferred their interest in a crop of cotton, they have no obligation to assume any additional payments which should be the responsibility of the cotton buyer. We urge producers to carefully scrutinize tariff charges to insure that improper charges are not being deducted from cotton crops.
16. We support the effort to control the cotton insects on a statewide basis. Consideration should be made for the areas that already have control measures in place and based on equitable cost shares.
17. We recommend that raw cotton burrs not be classified as feed, to eliminate feed analysis by gins.
B. WHEAT, FEED GRAINS AND FORAGE
1. We urge strict enforcement of the 1976 Federal Grain Inspection Standards Act to assure customers of the quality and amount of grain which they have purchased.
2. We recommend that producers be allowed to resale wheat, feed grain, and forage under their control for a three year period and with protection from USDA's calling in the grain at a price less than 120 percent of parity.
3. CCC owned grains should not be released in a manner that will be detrimental to market prices during harvest season. As a general rule, no release should be made from June 1 to January 31. In no case should release be made at less than 140 percent of parity.
4. We urge USDA to increase the loan price to a minimum of the average cost of production or not less than 90% of parity, whichever is the higher.
We urge USDA to use actual sales of grain and wheat to determine county support rates instead of arbitrary price markets.
5. STATE ISSUE: We want the Texas Department of Agriculture to test and seal all testing machines when they put a seal on the scales on which the grain is weighed, and to require that all machines be operated by trained and qualified operators.
6. STATE ISSUE: We request that the Commissioner of Agriculture of the State of Texas work with appropriate state and federal agencies to adopt reciprocal agreements on the interstate transportation of corn infected with the European corn borer.
7. STATE ISSUE: We urge that legislation be enacted establishing the producer's warehouse receipt as the sole legal title for commodities stored by the same producer in warehouses.
8. STATE ISSUE: We urge that the Texas Department of Agriculture be required to have their yearly audit of public elevators plus a minimum of one spot check by grain inspectors every year.
9. We favor increasing the wheat loan price to 90 percent of parity.
10. When a purpose exists, we favor allowing farmers to maintain their base acreage in the event of prevented planting.
11. We believe as long as there is a penalty on soft wheat, grain elevators should not be allowed to blend soft wheat with hard wheat, since they dock the producer, even if it only has a trace of soft wheat in the sample.
12. STATE ISSUE: We urge the Legislature to participate in the Interstate Compact on Agricultural Grain Marketing.
13. BE IT RESOLVED, that any farmer who has wheat in the farmer owned grain reserve be able to redeem his wheat from the reserve at any time the farmer can attain a profit.
14. We favor increasing all feed grain loan price to 90 percent of parity.
15. We recommend that the county FSA Committee be given authority to make adequate adjustments regarding projected yields due to adverse weather conditions.
16. We recommend that the loan rate on grain sorghum should be equal to that of corn.
17. We recommend that barley and oats continue to be included in the feed grain program.
18. We oppose the assessment of advance storage costs for feed grains and wheat placed in CCC loan.
19. We support adding a higher grade point on grain sorghum.
20. In case of forage crops, as long as they are planted within the producerís base acreage, we favor NAP to be made if the ton per acre yield is below the normal yield as determined by the FSA County Committee for dry land or irrigated crops.
1. Any change in the program should be in keeping 100% of parity returns to growers based on the 1910 1914 Parity Index instead of using the current index of prices paid to farmers.
2. We recommend that a research program between the USDA State Experiment Station and growers be continued with increased efforts to remedy serious peanut production diseases, to improve harvesting methods, improve varieties and develop better insect control.
3. We urge the continued authorization for the strip crop practices in peanuts and urge that local FSA Committees be empowered to allow for hardship cases in which crops in competing strips with peanuts fail to establish cover.
4. We urge that the School Lunch Division, Consumer and Marketing Service, and USDA approve nationwide the purchase of whole peanuts by school lunchrooms for use in daily food planning and urge that any program, domestic or foreign, not be charged to the peanut price support program.
5. We urge full cooperation by the USDA with the peanut industry in the implementation of a broad, systematic and continuing market development and promotional program for both domestic and export markets, excluding import markets.
6. We strongly oppose a target price system, especially one that would give one production area marketing advantage over another through early crop planting and harvesting. Because of climatic conditions, the southwest area would be forced into the market places after the domestic demands had been filled.
7. We favor a more valid identification method of aspergillis flavus in peanuts since more positive methods of identification are available.
8. We favor an increase in the loan rate for peanuts to 90 percent of parity.
9. We urge reinstatement of a policy to allow re cleaning and regrading of Segregation 2 and 3 peanuts within 48 hours of the original grading.
10. We oppose the use of any government funds or check off dollars for the research and development of peanut production in foreign countries.
11. Established yields should be updated and based on actual proven production adjusted for disaster years established yield.
12. We support an established standard to determine National Posted Price on peanuts so the LDP and counter cyclical payment determinations would be transparent, based on actual sales. We strongly urge full disclosure as to how the determinations are formulated.
1. We favor increasing the soybean loan price to 90 percent of parity.
2. We recommend that check off funds not be taken from producer payments without written permission or must be refunded upon request.
3. Crop insurance on soybeans should have a cutoff date for last day of the planting season so that they can be planted and still be insured. There should be no penalty because soybeans are planted after wheat, if the planting occurs within the proper time. The cutoff date should be set by area to conform to the above provisions.
E. OIL SEEDS
1. We demand that a price support loan for oil seed crops be established at 90 percent of parity.
2. We request the Secretary of Agriculture to establish an Oil Seed Advisory Committee which should be composed of oil seed producers elected by producers through FSA offices.
3. There should be no marketing penalty on cracked guar seed. It should be graded on a system similar to wheat and feed grain.
4. The excessive importation of palm oil, depressing domestic markets should be controlled by one, or a combination, of the following:
a. Automatic variable levy tariffs, import quotas, income deficiency payments, and a complete cessation of all imports when the presence of the commodity adversely affects oil seed price.
b. International commodity agreements with exporting nations.
1. We favor a rigid control supply management program for the production of U.S. rice.
2. We recommend that Commodity Credit Corporation owned rice be used to meet the foreign commitments incurred under such programs as PL480 and that these stocks not be used in any manner which will depress domestic rice prices.
3. We recommend that exports be expanded, and reclaim previous markets.
4. We request that USDA raise the present rice loan price to 90 percent of parity.
5. We recommend that the USDA reconsider their ruling and return base acreage history to the producer instead of the landowner.
6. We urge the promotion of rice in school lunch programs.
1. We demand the reinstatement of sugar legislation that assures the Country's sugar need will be met at stable prices which will be reasonable to both the producer and consumer. The Sugar Act was beneficial to our balance of payments, and the sugar program was self-supporting and does not cost the taxpayer. We demand the price support level for sugar be raised to 90 percent of parity.
2. We urge that the domestic quota of sugar be increased to allow for expanded domestic sugar production provided it does not cause an imbalance between supply and demand.
3. We demand that the current federal research development and experimentation of all phases of sugar beet production, including water, soil, herbicides, insecticides, disease, seed improvement resistance, and other phases of production, be increased.
4. We urge that all imports of sugar be stopped until 120 percent of parity is reached on all domestically produced sugar.
5. We oppose any Federal price cap on domestic sugar.
H. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
1. We favor substantially increased state and federal efforts to step up research concerning the fruit and vegetable industry.
2. Vertical integration by large merchandisers has developed to the point that buying power for fruits and vegetables is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. We call for all possible countermeasures by appropriate agencies of State and Federal government to provide effective producer bargaining power. We urge amendments to the Agricultural Marketing Agreements Act to authorize marketing research to cover all aspects of marketing problems grading, handling and processing, transportation, market proration and the effective application of cooperative endeavors on the part of producers.
3. Workshops under the sponsorship of our land grant colleges should be held throughout the state to discuss the reasons for the lack of bargaining power of fruit and vegetable producers.
4. The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act should be amended to extend quality and grade regulations of Section 608 E to other commodities imported into the United States.
5. We urge an investigation of large companies which promote production of fruits and vegetables in foreign countries, exploiting their labor force, only to import these fruits and vegetables into the United States in competition with domestic growers who must pay government established wage rates.
6. We urge that more effective laws be passed and enforced that require buyers of fruit and vegetables to be bonded unless they pay cash.
7. STATE ISSUE: These crops are of increasing economic importance to Texas and will become more important if proper emphasis on research is provided by state educational agencies. To keep Texas producers competitive with producers in other fruit and vegetable producing states, immediate action by the State Legislature is needed to assure adequate funds for research in pesticides, weed control, fungus disease, improved varieties and more efficient harvesting methods.
8. STATE ISSUE: We urge Farmers Union to work for equitable freight rate treatment for Texas grown vegetables, especially watermelons, comparable to rates in other growing areas. Specifically, we urge action to induce the railroads to provide "piggyback" service for watermelons in Texas as is provided in other states.
9. Fruits and vegetables are being imported with pesticides that are illegal in the U.S. We urge that legislation be passed prohibiting the importation of all crops treated with chemicals that are illegal for producers to use in the U. S.
1. Texas Farmers Union will work to replace the current BFP with a true cost of production formula, plus a reasonable profit. We oppose the using of the National cheese exchange price as a component of BFP.
2. We demand limitations on dairy imports and an increase in the support level to 90 percent of parity to assure adequate domestic supplies.
3. We support and vigorously promote both state and national legislation to require that all milk, including dry milk and milk products, sold at retail, bear a label on the container or dispenser stating content, other additives and volume thereof, with more stringent penalties for violations.
4. We recommend that the same criteria that apply to other commodity programs be enforced in the dairy program.
5. We take a strong stand in favor of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1949. Federal market orders and agreements should be authorized for application nationally, as well as for local and regional subdivisions of the United States.
6. We demand the Federal Trade Commission review on a continuing basis marketing practices which create monopoly markets, causes undue spread between the prices paid the producer for raw milk and the price paid by the consumer, resulting in denial of producer's bargaining power.
7. Further, we urge the USDA to give careful study to defining and preventing practices concerning milk quality detrimental to the goal of the fair prices to producers. Class 1 milk should be utilized in chocolate milk and ice cream.
8. Producers should be protected at the Class 1 price on dry milk processed into imitation products. We therefore urge USDA to take steps to amend all milk market orders to this effect.
9. All dairy products entering U.S. should be produced and processed under the same standards as U.S. products. All dairy products from subsidizing countries should be rejected.
10. Dairy import relief should be put on a milk equivalency basis, instead of on the specific product basis presently used.
11. We urge the federal government to establish uniform sanitation standards and practices in the production, transportation, processing and sales of fluid milk products shipped in interstate and intrastate commerce.
12. We recommend that all imported dairy products be plainly labeled as such. Any product produced in the U.S. containing, or blended with, any amount of imported product should be labeled as imported.
13. We oppose the USDA's imposition of a milk tax on the producer. However, should any assessment be placed on a producer it should be returned if production is not increased?
14. We oppose any exports of American dairy products at prices below world market prices.
15. We support continuation of regional milk marketing orders.
16. We support a two tiered program to reduce milk production.
17. We encourage the USDA to use off grade milk for animal consumption only.
18. We support labeling of milk where growth hormones are used.
19. We recommend continuation of the MLC program.
WHEREAS, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) now requires that all dairy herds in excess of 699 head of milking cattle must have a permit for their waste water disposal and that any dairies are required by law to maintain a no discharge of dairy water from the dairy premises.
WHEREAS, the regulation declares, "It is the policy of the TCEQ that there shall be no discharge of waste and/or waste water from concentrated animal feeding operations into the waters in the state, but rather that these materials shall be retained and utilized or disposed of on agriculture land," and,
WHEREAS, Texas dairyman support prudent environmental practices in preserving the quality of surface and ground water for use in their operation and by their families.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Texas Farmers Union supports the following concepts:
A. Reasonable standards for all dairymen to operate under which will protect the state resources;
B. Close attention to mechanics of implementing these standards so that the cost of developing the program does not result in putting dairymen out of business.
C. Provisions for a phase in approach, allowing dairymen to address their individual situation over a period of years, thereby giving them time to ingest their effluvium program into their cash flow.
D. Work for a consistent and coordinated policy from all regulatory agencies that will give the dairyman a defined direction and basis that he can depend on.
E. Push for state/federal cost share. Since the dairyman cannot always recover this environment cost from the marketplace, every option must be considered to fairly pay for these projects.
We recommend that milk handlers, seeking lower Somatic Cell counts in the milk they buy, achieve this by paying premiums for lower counts. We further recommend that penalties relating to Somatic Cell count not be imposed by milk handlers so long as the cell count is within the law.
We recommend the Somatic Cell count be 750,000.
We recommend that blending or pooling Grade milk with lower value Grade B milk not be allowed. We further recommend phasing out Grade B milk production since Grade A production far exceeds fluid needs.
We further recommend a public comment period to allow dairymen and dairy associations to submit their input.
SPECIAL DAIRY ISSUES
1) Require USDA to establish a 1% loan program to dairy farmers who lose their milk checks due to a financial default by a milk marketer. This fund should extend low interest loan to producers for the amount of money lost in the default, for a term of up to three years.
2) Mandate that each USDA commodity promotion program hold a one producer, one vote referendum every three years, on the question of whether or not to continue the commodity promotion referendum.
3) Mandate that each USDA commodity promotion program require that directors be elected by the producers who are assessed to fund the program.
Reasoning: Again, using dairy as an example, USDA appoints NDPRB directors, who tend to be the same old, same old "big wigs" directing agricultural co-ops. The commodity promotion programs (if sustained by producer votes) would benefit from the fresh ideas of democratically elected directors.
4) Mandate that USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) study whether NDPRB has violated USDA rules by directors approving grants/loans to wholly owned subsidiaries of the cooperatives to which they belong (and of which they are directors).
Reasoning: Probe potential conflict of interest of "loan to grants" approved at April 2006 NDPRB/DMI board meeting.
5) IMMEDIATELY cease all imports of Grade A dairy products (particularly yogurt) coming from nations that do not have dairy farms/dairy plants approved under U.S. dairy sanitation codes (the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance).
Reasoning: All yogurt sold in the U.S. must be a Grade A product, and meet all rules of the governing sanitary code (the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance). The U.S., in 2005, received yogurt imports from 20 different nations. Only two nations Greece and Spain have dairy farms/dairy plants that have been inspected by U.S. licensed inspectors. All other yogurt imports are illegal. U.S. Customs Inspectors must be coming from nations other than Spain and Greece.
Reasoning: It's the law, and we should enforce sanitary conditions on dairy imports.
6) Disallow imports of dairy products and meat/meat products from any nations with active outbreaks of Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD). Further, maintain zero imports of dairy and meat/meat products from any nations that have been "cleared" of FMD outbreaks for a period of one year following announcement of eradication.
Reasoning: This nation's food security is severely threatened by potential import of FMD (and other diseases). Because, the FMD virus may live in processed food products (and packaging) for up to six weeks following pasteurization (and other heat treatments), it is vital to disallow ANY diary/meat/meat product imports from FMD infected nations.
Reasoning: National self-interest, to protect livestock and poultry industries.
7) Amend the Capper Volstead Act and Internal Revenue Service rules to limit Antitrust exemptions for agricultural cooperatives only to the original procurement, pricing and marketing of raw agricultural products and commodities.
Reasoning: the marketing and transportation realities that existed when Capper Volstead was passed are no longer relevant. The growth and sophistication of major agricultural cooperatives bear little resemblance to co-ops back in the 1920s. All agricultural producers would be better off if their cooperatives' activities (beyond transportation, marketing and sale of raw farm products) were governed by the same set of laws that oversee proprietary food and energy processors.
8) Require USDA Secretary to enforce rules of agricultural marketing orders that require adequate competition exist in all regional marketing orders.
Reasoning: Competition is virtually nonexistent in some federal milk marketing orders such as the Northeast. Two related entities DFA and DMS hold virtual exclusive rights to supply fluid milk to the three largest fluid processors in that region. Those three processors hold more than 80% market share of all fluid milk processed in the Northeast. USA rules for the Northeast fmmo require all marketers to sell at least 20% of their milk during late summer/fall months to fluid processors. It's impossible for some marketers not to be forced to sell their milk to Class 1 processors through DFA/DMS.
Reasoning: Itís the law! Competition is mandated in the federal milk order system, but not adhered to.
9) Require the USDA Secretary to act upon the mandate found in U.S.C. 7, Chapter 26, Subchapter III, Section 608c 18: rules requiring the USDA Secretary to adjust milk prices in the federal milk order system, based upon regional grain prices.
Reasoning: It's the law! USDA is directed by Congress to adjust farm milk prices in regional federal orders, based upon grain costs. Higher fmmo milk prices would help dairy farmers offset far higher grain costs.
10) Require USDA to mandate that all foods and commodities used in the School Lunch Program (and other federally subsidized school nutrition programs) contain only products and ingredients certified as safe under FDA's safety program GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).
Reasoning: Here's a good way to expose the Milk Protein Concentrate MPC is used in a number of foods sold in school meals programs. Requiring all foods sold in the school meals program to contain 100% GRAS ingredients is merely looking out for the safety of our school children and the integrity of the food served in schools.
1. We are in favor of stopping beef imports, live and dressed, until cattle prices are 110 percent of parity. We want limits placed on imports of processed food that will make it impossible to violate existing regulations and quotas. Imported meat products should be required to meet the same requirements as products produced in the United States, including strict inspection under the Pure Food and Drug regulations. In fairness to the American consumer, all imported meat and meat products should be labeled as imported and show country of origin in every retail situation.
2. We continue to urge the USDA to purchase U.S. livestock, poultry and pork for the School Lunch and Food for Peace programs. All products for such programs and for military consumption should be purchased exclusively from domestic resources. We deplore the situation that has existed in the so called "commodity purchase program" because processors have used these programs to increase their profits without increased benefits to the producer. We request that in the future, with programs of this nature, such purchases be made directly from the producer, but in cases where necessary to buy from the processor, the Department of Agriculture require the processor to certify that at least 90 percent of parity prices be paid to the producer of the commodity. We also recommend that penalties be established to ensure processor compliance with this provision.
3. Because of the importance of weight as an indication of the real value of an animal, we ask that firms or persons engaged in public auction of livestock be required by law to exhibit in a conspicuous manner during the time of the sale the weight of each animal or group of animals being sold.
4. We urge continued funding of the Screwworm Eradication Program, soliciting the aid of other states and countries and full cooperation on the part of farmers and ranchers and State and federal governments toward the objectives of freeing the entire nation from this pest.
5. We also support the efforts to build and staff more diagnostic laboratories for livestock.
6. In the interest of greater returns to all farmers and ranchers producing livestock, we urge full cooperation and funding in effective programs to eradicate brucellosis, hog cholera, trichomoniasis in breeding bulls, and other infectious diseases and eliminate financial losses incurred in participating in these programs.
7. We urge a compulsory brucellosis vaccination program for heifer calves, permitting owner administration. All heifer cattle entering the state under one (1) year of age must be vaccinated before entry. All female stock entering the state must have clean health certificates.
8. We support the Texas Animal Health Commissionís ruling that heifers born in the State of Texas will have to be vaccinated for brucellosis before change of ownership. State funds should be made available for brucellosis vaccination.
After a herd of beef cattle is tested and found to be free of brucellosis, the herd should be declared brucellosis free and made exempt from any further testing until time of sale, if no unvaccinated, untested cattle not from certified free (of brucellosis) herds are introduced into the herd.
A. Test Herds
1. Vaccinate all susceptible animals with approved vaccine.
2. Retest no less than 180 days after vaccination. Animals that test negative should be declared brucellosis free and made exempt from any further testing.
B. Method of Testing
1. Statewide Test
2. Followed by:
a. Testing all eligible cattle going through a sale.
b. Testing all eligible cattle going to a packer.
9. The State of Texas should mandate tuberculosis testing of all cattle imported from Mexico into this state. All cattle shipments from Mexico should be halted until the bovine tuberculosis has been cleaned up in Mexico.
10. Any livestock entering the U.S. from another country known to have a disease or parasite problem should be tested for that disease before entering.
11. All stockyards, auction sales, truck or gathering points for cattle should be required to maintain clean premises and to spray with disinfectant at periodic intervals to ensure the safety and wellbeing of livestock.
12. We urge a more accurate census of livestock in all classes, with this information being made available to livestock producers. This information should include both live and dressed beef imports when reported by USDA.
13. "Allow for the Interstate shipment of state inspected meat if that inspection equals or surpasses Federal Inspection Standards".
14. An incentive should be provided to encourage more top graduating veterinarians to return to agricultural areas for this vocation.
15. We urge adequate governmental reimbursement to producers of herds quarantined and destroyed due to disease.
16. We urge a strict enforcement of the existing state livestock statute. We urge the amendment of the Beef Check off Program to require a producer working referendum and an annual referendum thereafter.
17. Texas Farmers Union encourages production of beef to meet the demand of specialty markets, including the demand for beef free of synthetic hormones.
18. We urge the legislature to amend state check off programs to permit producers to request and receive funds.
19. STATE ISSUE: We urge the State Legislature to study the existing statutes and make the necessary changes needed to establish an adequate statewide brand inspection and brand registration program.
20. We urge the Texas State Legislature to enact Legislation putting the Texas Animal Health Commission under the direction of the Texas Department of Agriculture.
21. ANIMAL RIGHTS
WHEREAS, an uninformed public presents tangible threats to U.S. agriculture's ability to efficiently produce food and fiber, and several misconceptions exists relating to the necessary confinement of livestock.
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union does support humane treatment of animals;
BE IT RESOLVED, that TFU will work with responsible organizations to properly educate the American people on this issue and direct efforts to counter legislation detrimental to the agriculture industry.
22. ANIMAL CRUELTY
WHEREAS, the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act has halted the slaughter of horses in the United States. Although Texas Farmers Union supports the prevention of cruelty of animals, we are not blind to the fact that without the humane process of euphanization, we can and will have horses that reach ages beyond their usefulness and healthy lives.
WHEREAS, people (horse owners) may elect to, because of the vast expense of caring for these animals, to no longer care for them, therefore leading them to sick, unhealthy, malnourished animals clinging to life.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union supports the immediate repeal of the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act.
23. NATIONAL ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION
WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of agriculture has agreed to a voluntary program of a verifiable national animal identification program, and
WHEREAS, we believe proactive steps are necessary to maintain and ensure consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. animals and food product, as well as to stabilize our domestic and export markets and minimize any economic damage resulting from animal disease outbreaks or bio terrorists attacks,
WHEREAS, USDA announced it plans to allow private entities collect and maintain producer information in a national Animal Identification System (NAIS), despite our repeated calls for the database to be maintained within the public agency domain, nor does USDA plan to apply the costs of reporting animal movements or even to analyze the costs of that system to producers or meat processors,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Texas Farmers Union reiterates our concerns and opposition to mandatory NAIS moving forward until our questions and concerns are answered. The Administration, Congress and industry must resolve the following concerns before further promulgation or implementation of a mandatory national animal identification program:
1) Has the least possible cost to the producers and fully paid for by the Department of Homeland Security;
2) Data collected shall be controlled by the federal government;
3) Encourages full participation and shared responsibility throughout industries;
4) Provides adequate liability protection firewalls including, but not limited to, an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.
5) Is conducive to the collection of date that will be compatible with, and complimentary to the country of origin labeling (COOL) law; and
6) Establishes an educational component within the program to educate producers.
7) We oppose any methane tax on any livestock.
BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY (BSE) MINIMAL RISK COUNTRIES
WHEREAS, the United States cattle and beef industry are significant contributors to the agricultural and overall economy, yet have suffered and economic loss of more than $2 billion since the discovery of Canadian BSE positive cow in Washington state in December 2003;
WHEREAS, the majority of our international beef markets maintain a ban on U.S. beef and beef products, including our number one customer, Japan. The international bans on US beef were put in place based upon the perception that the American cattle herd was infected with BSE; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Texas Farmers Union strongly opposed establishing "Minimal risk" categories, including reestablishing live cattle trade with Canada and importing additional beef products, until the following measures are met;
1. Our international markets are firmly reestablished and equivalent or better than the excess status accorded to our exports as of January 1, 2003.
2. Mandatory country of origin labeling is fully implemented for all covered commodities;
3. Rapid test technology is developed at a more accelerated pace and made available to domestic slaughtering facilities in an economically viable manner;
4. Any country importing beef, beef products or live cattle into the U.S. must have in place and compliance with a ruminant to ruminant feed ban;
5. Require all imported live cattle, beef and beef products to be older than 30 months of age;
6. Provide an economic safety net for American Cattle producers if the importation of cattle and beef products from BSE positive countries negatively impacts domestic profitability.
1. STATE ISSUE: Texas pork producers are being unfairly paid for their efforts to increase the quality of pork they produce. Texas producers should be paid as the Corn Belt producers are, i.e., on the grade and yield.
2. STATE ISSUE: We support the state hog cholera eradication program and stronger action to eradicate pseudo rabies.
3. We request that check off dollars be refunded to producers upon request.
4. Legislation should be adopted to prevent large feed companies, processors and chain stores from producing swine or pork.
5. We support the elimination of open lagoons for new construction or expansion for swine confined animal feeding operations that exceed 2500 head capacity. Also promote the use of new available technology or organic digesters to process wet animal waste, to dry usable organic waste.
L. POULTRY AND EGGS
1. We endorse the appointment of national advisory committees, composed of producers, to advise the Secretary of Agriculture in the formulation of programs designed to manage the supply of poultry and poultry products and to improve the economic position of the growers.
2. We ask the USDA to investigate and conduct experiments in the use of feather meal and poultry by product meal, including digestibility, and to determine whether use of such products has any relationship to outbreaks of poultry cholera.
3. We urge the support of marketing orders for turkeys, broilers and eggs.
4. Legislation should be adopted to prevent large feed companies, processors and chain stores from producing poultry and eggs.
M. WOOL AND MOHAIR
Congress should reenact and permanently extend the Wool Act, with incentive levels established at 100% parity.
1. We support the reinstatement of the honey program which was in effect prior to the FAIR Act.
O. PACKERS AND STOCKYARD ACT
1. We urge Congress to reinstate the rate making and condition of sale provision authority of the Packers and Stockyard Administration. All custom feed lot operators and livestock management firms that buy and sell, sell for commission or engage in public livestock transactions, should be brought under provision of the P & S Act. The Act protects farmers and ranchers from collusion between livestock dealers and packers and requires bonding. We therefore call for full funding and enforcement of the provisions of the Act.
2. We oppose any legislation or regulatory action that would weaken the effectiveness of the P & S Act.
P. RESEARCH AND PROMOTION PROGRAMS
We recommend that any mandatory research and promotion check off program for agriculture commodities also are placed on all commodities traded by the Board of Trade.
The following criteria should be included in all state and federal research and promotion programs:
1. The program is presented to producers in referendum and approved by two thirds of the producers voting.
2. The Agriculture Commissioner or Secretary of Agriculture should strictly enforce the use of check off funds for research or promotion for American grown products only.
3. A research and promotion program can be terminated at any time by a simple majority vote of the producers voting, with such referendum held on the call of 10 percent of the producers.
4. Exemptions for any check off program shall be available at the point of check off or refunded upon request.
5. We urge that the major emphasis in agricultural research be shifted from production to marketing.
6. All research and promotion programs must be under the control of a farmer elected board of directors made up solely of producers who derive two thirds or more of their gross income from farming.
7. We demand the Legislature or Congress closely scrutinize all appropriations requests for agricultural research programs conducted by government agencies, educational institutions or private contractors to ensure that public funds be spent only on projects beneficial to family farmers and consumers.
8. STATE ISSUE: We hereby urge the Attorney General to enforce the regulations concerning all agricultural check off programs.
9. We oppose proxy or block voting by cooperatives.
VIII. NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE NEEDS
A. NASS REPORTS
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union acknowledges that farm reports and surveys could be a helpful tool in gauging the amount of crops being grown or stored on farms.
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union believes that the way NASS (National Agricultural Statistic Service) conducts and reports these findings are inaccurate and can be price damaging to the specific crops being reported.
WHEREAS, the latest NASS report about un-harvested wheat in the year 2011 was reported to be 400,000 acres, when accurate figures are at 1,150,000 acres. These are incredible differences in actual figures.
WHEREAS, the way NASS collects these numbers are asking not every farm to report these numbers but a select few. Then a formula is used to base the reports on. This leads to inaccurate reports and causes the industry to have dramatic and uncalled for price swings.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union urges that USDA and NASS use a method of all farmers reporting for more accurate reports or no reports. Since a weighted survey would be totally inaccurate.
B. STRUCTURE OF THE USDA
1. We oppose the transfer or reorganization of any functions of the USDA to any other department of the federal government.
2. We oppose the presentation of large cash awards to employees of any branch of USDA for doing a job.
C. AGRICULTURAL INPUTS
1. We demand the President and Congress move forward with all deliberate speed in developing an energy program that will make our country self-sufficient at the earliest possible time. We demand the federal government take whatever steps that are needed to ensure that ample fuel, oil, fertilizer and other chemicals are supplied to the farmers in the United States at a cost in line with the economic return on production. It is necessary that agricultural uses of energy be second in priority only to essential domestic uses.
2. We encourage the research and development of raw farm products for the development of energy sources, i.e., alcohol fuels, including exemption from taxation and excessive regulations.
3. We recommend that there be adequate state and federal funding for research in solar, wind and other related energy sources.
4. We recommend that a study be undertaken to research shortages of supplies to find out if it is a true shortage, if overseas exports have caused these shortages, or if it is devised to increase prices.
5. We support legislation to use agriculturally produced biodegradable by products (i.e., plastic bags made from corn).
D. RURAL ELECTRIFICATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE NEEDS
1. We urge the investigation by the appropriate congressional committee into the activities of electric power monopolies in their efforts to weaken, harass and destroy Rural Electric Cooperatives.
2. We urge the Rural Utilities Service be continued with adequate administrative and loan funds.
3. No electric or other utility should be allowed to count as cost, in rate making and expenditure for tax deduction purposes, the money they spend, either directly or indirectly, to influence political action at any level.
4. We urge that the Rural Electrification Administration use all diligence in making generation and transmission loans available to the cooperatives in Texas and the country as a whole with minimum of delay in order that the cooperatives may be in a position to generate their own power when and wherever the economic need arises.
5. We strongly support the preference and withdrawal clause to protect first priority rights of Rural Electric Cooperatives to electric power generated in publicly owned facilities.
6. We urge the RUS administrator to increase the availability of 2% loans for those cooperatives serving in low density areas. Cooperative financial arrangements and source of funding should not be subject to assignment, transfer or obligation, or delegated to any institution without approval of 80% of the effective cooperative.
7. Since Electric Cooperative members have adequate protection from excess rates by virtue of their vote in the administration of their co-ops, regulation of rates by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and Public Utilities Commission (PUC), could only result in harassment and would make no beneficial contribution to the protection of electric co-op members. We oppose the entry of FERC and PUC into this field.
We urge continuing efforts to secure legislation giving territorial integrity to the Rural Electric Cooperatives in Texas.
8. We oppose the deregulation of electrification, especially rural areas, "retail wheeling" or "cherry picking."
E. RURAL AREAS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
1. We recognize that the only meaningful rural and revitalization program that will permanently stabilize the rural economy is a program which ensures a parity of return on farm commodities; therefore, we place prime importance on a fair price for farm products as the most important way of strengthening rural and national economics.
2. The Rural Development Act affords the opportunity for broadening the base of economic and social stability in rural areas and on Main Street. The opportunities for application of this program should be fully explored by Farmers Union leaders. Farmerís Union members should participate in and accept leadership responsibilities in civic, service, and economic development and provide health, recreational, educational, and other facilities.
3. The cost price squeeze makes it imperative that farmers be in a position to form both marketing and purchasing cooperatives.
F. EXPANDED CONSUMPTION OF FOOD AND FIBER
1. Expansion of Exports
a. We believe that long range extension of the authority to use constructively U.S. Food and Fiber under Public Law 480 IS in the interest of the United States as well as recipient countries. We fully endorse food and fiber loans with provisions for repayment over a number of years. Cost incurred under Public Law 480 are in the interest of all citizens and U.S. foreign policy and, therefore should not be charged against the budget of the Department of Agriculture.
b. We favor additional international commodity agreements.
c. Inform the American public that reasonable farm commodity reserves are a vital part of our domestic economic security program.
d. We believe that it is reasonable to develop trade in wheat, feed grain, oil seed crops, livestock, dairy products, or other farm commodities for which any nation is able to pay in dollars or gold, provided that the purchasing nation shows willingness to cooperate in orderly marketing of farm products in international trade.
2. Expanding Domestic Consumption.
a. The Food Stamp Program should be extended to all areas to protect the needy. We feel that guidelines should be strictly administered to eliminate the improper uses of the Food Stamp Program.
b. The school lunch and school milk programs should be extended.
c. We urge greater emphasis on market expanding research, especially in finding new uses for the farm commodities.
d. We urge reenactment of the Farmer to Consumer Direct Marketing Act.
e. We urge the USDA to use appropriate American agriculture products in their promotions.
G. COORDINATION AND ORGANIZATION OF FARM AGENCIES
1. We recommend better working agreements and cooperation between all farm agencies; federal, state and county.
2. We believe the FSA should be the lead agency to administer the current farm programs. We support the continuation of the farmers elected county FSA committees.
3. We urge our Farmers Union members to be more alert and more active in the election of FSA committee members, Federal Land Bank, and all other farmer elected committees and boards.
4. We support the consolidation of USDA program offices into one building per county.
5. We request that all government agriculturally oriented offices be staffed adequately with qualified personnel to handle peak workloads so that services and payments can be distributed in a fair and timely manner.
H. SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION
1. Since conservation of our soil and water resources is in the interest of all Americans, we recommend that sufficient governmental aid be provided to bona fide farmers and ranchers to conserve our land and water resources. We specifically recommend additional appropriations for the NRCS and NRCD, agriculture conservation programs.
We encourage farmers to take advantage of the services of these agencies to meet the soil, water and woodland conservation needs of their farms. Conservation of water should be given priority thorough all workable means, including low cost impounding of water as a byproduct of our road building program where desired by property owners.
Greater emphasis on conservation programs is fully consistent with the objectives of bringing the supply of farm commodities in line with market demand.
2. We recommend a special allocation for disaster areas so that 100 percent payments may be made for practices carried out to prevent erosion and depletion from flood or drought. We urge funds be available at all times for repairing conservation projects destroyed by natural disasters, without time limitation.
3. We recommend legislation regulating the use of toxic materials that are widely used in cloud seeding for weather modification and that the location of any such weather experiments be formed into special areas by a vote of the people. Any toxic material that is going to be used in the atmosphere or otherwise should be published in the affected area's newspapers. The State Health Department should be required to run tests of the water and soil to determine how much contamination is being done.
4. We favor continued depletion allowance for underground irrigation water.
5. We urge that EQIP and CSP programs and all other conservation programs be fully funded for the entire course of the contract. If funding is cut to these programs, farmers and ranchers should have the option of terminating or adjusting the contracts.
6. We urge increased appropriations for small watershed flood prevention programs, and we call upon the Administration to spend all small watershed funds that are appropriated.
7. We recommend that range improvement practices under conservation programs be funded at 50 percent or more of cost share.
8. We urge district NRCD boards retain all their powers and not surrender any of their decision making rights to councils of Government or special interest groups.
9. We feel there should be substantial proof of danger to the health and environment before a pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer or livestock feed additive is banned.
We urge that the Environmental Protection Agency consider the economic effect on the production of food and fiber when attempting to ban the use of certain pesticides. We ask that Congress give USDA veto power over any EPA action restricting the use of pesticides on farms.
10. We recommend that a proportionate number of agricultural producers be appointed to, or elected to, water authorities, boards or districts.
11. We urge that ownership of underground water supplies remain the property of the landowner.
12. We oppose any new soil conservation program which would deny federal farm program benefits to farm families without providing sufficient time and a variety of methods for complying with such program rules. The rules for implementing any soil conservation plan should be fair and reasonable and should take into consideration all other existing rules and regulations which farm families must follow.
13. We recommend that any and all wetlands determinations throughout Texas rely on the presence of all three of the following mandatory wetland criteria simultaneous appearing on the same site year round:
b. A predominance of hydric soil
c. A prevalence of hydrophilic vegetation
14. We recommend the reinstatement of the agriculture conservation program, or equivalent, to assist agriculture producers in applying conservation practices that are needed to conserve the land; which would be of benefit to the entire nations.
I. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
1. We call on the federal government to narrow the definition of "facility" and "navigable waters" in an appropriate manner so that maintaining fuel storage tanks on the farm will not require agricultural producers to meet heavy insurance requirement or make them subject to the stiff fines and penalties called for under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
2. We oppose the storage and ultimate disposition of the Special Nuclear Materials (SNM), plutonium, uranium, tritium and other weapon components, resulting from the production of further nuclear weapons and from the dismantlement of the existing stockpiles in the agriculture producing areas and above or near groundwater supplies.
We support a mutual verification and non-proliferation policy and urge a national broad base dialogue addressing dismantlement, storage and disposition of SNM.
3. We favor an aggressive program to immediately stop acid rain and clean up toxic waste dumps. We strongly oppose the dumping of either nuclear or toxic waste anywhere in the State of Texas.
4. NATIONAL ISSUE: We oppose the purchasing or leasing of any land by the Department of Energy or any other government agency for the purpose of dumping or storing nuclear waste.
I. ENDANGERED SPECIES
Texas Farmers Union strongly supports efforts made by state and federal agencies to increase populations of threatened species. These efforts should not impair the farmerís right to manage their own land. Producers and landowners should be offered incentives to manage wildlife populations.
J. LAND POLICY
The Texas Farmers Union strongly supports owner operator family farms and opposes the growth of large corporate farms. Therefore, when agricultural land is sold by a government agency, TFU advocates that such sales be made first to owner operator families, with smaller units receiving priority over larger units. The long range goal is to bring all small operations up to a size which is adequate for a family unit and consistent with other family operated farms in the given vicinity.
We urge Congress and the Administration to uphold the original provisions of the Reclamation Act of 1902. We urge strict compliance with the reporting provisions of the Foreign Agricultural Lands Disclosure Act.
We recommend that all federally owned lands utilized for agricultural production be sold or if not sold, leased to the highest bidder every 5 years and taxed on an equitable basis with properties in the area.
K. CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM
1. When a Conservation Reserve Program contract expires, we support offering an opportunity to re bid and extend the contract for an additional ten (10) years and to further allow that an additional 20 million acres be enrolled in the program. The payment should remain equivalent to the present program. An option for a reduced rate should be allowed if limited grazing is permitted.
2. We urge county committees to enforce existing rules and regulations concerning noxious weeds.
L. FARMER COOPERATIVES
1. Since the Farmer Union was organized, it has built more farmer cooperatives than any other single organization in America; therefore, we reaffirm our support of farm cooperatives and ask continued federal support with low interest rates.
2. We encourage farmers to use their cooperative organizations to strengthen their bargaining positions by using their Rural Electric Cooperatives. Rural Telephone Cooperatives, Production Credit Associations, Federal Land Banks, gins, elevators, processing, supply and marketing associations.
3. Enactment and establishment of a nationwide REA type program is needed to provide loans and technical assistance to farmer owned and controlled business enterprises to acquire (or build) and operate farm marketing, storage and processing facilities and services to serve as a yardstick to measure a realistic spread between prices received by farmers and those paid by consumers.
4. We firmly take our stand against unfair taxation of farmer cooperatives, and we urge each and every Farmers Union member to resist any attempts to undermine the Capper Volstead Act.
5. We support strong lobbing by bona fide farmers in support of cooperatives, with attention focused on securing legislation which is in the best interest of farmers.
6. We urge revision of anti-trust legislation in order to permit farmer owned cooperatives to acquire processing plants and other facilities and the revision of other legislation which would permit members of cooperatives to negotiate with other individuals and groups.
7. Recognizing that the success of the cooperative movement is totally dependent upon each farmer cooperative filling its primary function of rendering a service to its patrons, we urge all patrons of all cooperatives to be particularly alert to the proper functions of the cooperative to which they belong.
8. We recommend that cooperatives schedule their directors and managers to attend training schools or institutes as a requirement for board members.
9. We support consumer food cooperatives in order to establish better understanding between the consumer and the food producer, and provide better services through cooperative buying of its members.
10. We urge that an educational program be established on cooperative marketing for all farm commodities to gain more efficiency in making cooperatives our marketing tool.
M. CONSUMER PROTECTION
1. We support legislation requiring that all import products be plainly labeled as such. We urge that imported foodstuffs be required to meet the same USDA standards of domestic foods (Country of Origin Labeling).
2. We urge more accurate labeling and uniform grading of processed food items, including livestock, dairy and poultry products and eggs, in the interest of greater consumer acceptance. We support the Congressional investigations that are being made of food processors and meat packers and urge that legislation be enacted to prevent deceptive labeling and other practices which mislead consumers.
3. We especially ask the Department of Agriculture to investigate the addition of synthetic and other products of feeds for the purpose of raising the protein content, and we urge that the digestibility percentage of such products be shown.
4. We urge Congress to include agricultural credit in the Truth in Lending Act.
5. We favor a truth in advertising law requiring telephone solicitors to clearly identify their employer and purpose at the beginning of each call.
6. We feel there should be substantial proof of danger to the health or environment before a product is declared harmful.
7. We advocate legislation requiring that patent holders or owners of GMO technology be held strictly liable for safety, health, and environmental effects.
N. PRODUCER PROTECTION
1. Legislation at the state and federal levels should be enacted to protect producers from losses incurred in the selling of commodities to all commodity buyers.
2. We support bonding requirements for any entity that contracts to purchase any ag commodity.
a. Farmers and ranchers who buy commodities for planting or for feeding livestock that they own should be exempt.
3. The Texas Farmers Union should work with the grain industry, livestock industry, commodity groups and other interested parties to assure the producers the protection they deserve.
4. We support regulatory action what would require firms that buy or sell agricultural commodities to have scales that are simultaneously visible to both producer and weigher.
5. Farmers are not to be held liable for food safety, human health or environmental problems, including cross pollination, related to the use of GMOs as long as generally accepted crop production practices are followed. Monetary damages to the producer shall be the responsibility of the GMO technology owner.
6. Texas Farmers Union encourages Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate any mergers and conduct full and thorough investigations which will serve to educate congressional members and the general public about the impact these types of mergers would have on farmers and consumers throughout the U.S.
We respectfully ask the Senate and House Judiciary committees initiate investigations in order to highlight the detrimental impact mergers of this kind if allowed will have on farmers and consumers.
O. RADIO AND TELEVISION
1. We strongly support reestablishment of the "Fairness Doctrine" of the Federal Communications Commission requiring radio and television stations to present all sides of controversial issues.
2. We urge the news media to be more diligent in the reporting of increases in food and fiber costs as they relate to actual prices received by farmers and increases in their cost of production.
3. We urge congress to act to eliminate concentration of ownership of the media.
P. TRADE POLICY
1. We favor strong international commodity agreements with a 100 percent parity price floor. International commodity agreements should be made with adequate producer representation.
We call upon the United States delegates to the International Wheat Association (IWA) to act so as to bring about negotiations that can make the IWA an effective price support instrument for wheat producers of the United States.
We recommend better implementation of multi fiber agreements with Textile Exporting countries.
2. With continuing consolidation of meat packers and large vegetable vendors as well as the ever increasing importation of more of our food supply it becomes more difficult to maintain the integrity of the food we eat. Texas Farmers Union believes the best bio security is the Family Farm and resolves to call upon TDA and USDA to promote it as the best way to secure our food supply.
3. We call for the recognition of the role of the American farmers in providing the powerful economic and political force of American agriculture and urge that the farmer be able to reap the benefits of expanding world markets.
4. We support the continuation of the release of all data pertaining to worldwide crop conditions and production as long as it is reported accurately and in a timely manner.
5. We recommend that exports of wheat, cotton, feed grain, rice, soybeans and other farm products be promoted at parity prices.
6. Any embargo or trade sanction of agricultural commodities shall trigger a 100 percent parity loan on that commodity. Any embargo or trade sanction for national security purposes must be on all the nation's products.
7. We oppose NAFTA partners being used as corridors by other countries to avoid quotas and tariffs on agricultural products.
8. Texas Farmers Union opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) until certain provisions are added that will protect U.S. farmers from unfair, competition, inequities in currency, and environmentally unsafe and health jeopardizing produce from other countries.
9. We support the producer protection act developed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and will work for its adoption in the State of Texas.
10. We oppose the funding of a "superhighway" corridor, otherwise called the "NAFTA HIGHWAY".
11. We oppose the World Trade Organization since it allows an unaccountable, non-elected, multi-national board to set policy to which the United States would be obligated to obey.
12. We support the Maritime Cargo Preference legislation requiring American cargo ships to haul at least 50 percent of all exported agriculture products on the U.S. owned ships until such time as producer prices reach parity level.
13. TFU urges that all issues which affect production costs in a country be considered by WTO when dealing with tariff reductions and creating a level playing field.
14. We support stabilization of the exchange value of currencies to prevent erratic disruptions in either foreign exchange markets or agricultural markets as required by law.
Q. COMPETING IMPORTS
1. All food products entering the U.S. must be produced under the same health and sanitary standards and worker protection requirements as are required by domestic producers.
We demand safeguards be established to prevent the destruction or weakening of agriculture and other domestic industries by importation of competing products or substitutes. This should be done by means of automatic variable levy tariffs, import quotas, income deficiency payments, or a combination thereof. Commodities are being imported with pesticides that are illegal in the U.S.
We urge that legislation be passed prohibiting the importation of all commodities treated or manufactured with chemicals that are illegal for producers to use in the U.S.
2. With the continuing consolidation of meat packers and large vegetable vendors as well as the ever increasing importation of more of our food supply, it becomes more difficult to maintain the integrity of the food we eat. Texas Farmers Union believes the best Bio Security for our food is the family farm and resolves to call upon TDA and USDA to promote family farms as the best way to secure our food supply.
1. Our severe credit problems cannot be cured simply with more credit, but only by a fair price for commodities.
2. Procedural requirements for obtaining credit from federal or federally regulated agencies should be streamlined.
3. Disaster loan through FSA should continue to be available for natural disaster and economic conditions such as unreasonably low prices. Interest rates on disaster loans should be no greater than the Federal Reserve Rate.
Once a disaster loan program is legislated, it shall remain in effect for the original term or longer. It should not be repealed before this date for any reason, such as change of administration or budgetary limitations.
4. The supervised credit program of the Farm Service Agency has had great success in past years in Texas. However, funds have been cut, staff has been decreased, and county supervisors are being transferred so often that many farmers are faced with dealing with total strangers when loan applications are made. We support additional funding in order to maintain the past high performance standard of the field staff. We urge that no debts other than those owed to FSA be considered in the limitation for operating loans. We oppose FSA requiring payments by certified checks.
5. We favor storage facility loans for all commodities, with low interest rates.
6. We insist the U.S. House of Representatives assert its constitutional authority by reorganizing the Federal Reserve Board to be required to include representatives from small business, labor and agriculture.
7. We urge Congress to maintain and increase the limits on loans for all on farm storage facilities and include the complete cost of construction.
We also urge the President to use executive authority under the Emergency Credit Control Act to roll back interest rates, set up special discount windows for priority groups and limit credit use involving corporate takeovers and mergers.
8. We urge Congress to make more funds available for young farmers and ranchers through the FSA, with strict supervision.
9. We strongly oppose any efforts of Congress or the Administration to weaken the integrity of the farm credit system.
10. We oppose any effort to consolidate the various institutions which make up the Farm Credit System if consolidation would dilute involvement and ownership by farmers and ranchers.
11. We strongly urge that the United States Small Business Administration reevaluate the Small Business farm disaster loan programs on request of recipients and take into consideration the large amounts of annual payments being made by recipients of this loan. We ask that these loans and maturity dates be extended to bring the burden of large annual payments down to a workable budget for each recipient.
12. We urge increasing the limit on FSA direct loans to at least $500,000.
13. STATE ISSUE: We favor the promotion and development of Farmers Union Credit Unions throughout the state in order to strengthen the financial bargaining power of agricultural producers.
14. We strongly oppose placing farm commodities under the Uniform Commercial Code, thereby reducing their collateral value for production loans. We urge that the central registration of agriculture liens be moved to the Texas Department of Agriculture and that the Legislature appropriate sufficient funds to establish a rapid electronic system for instant lien searches to facilitate quick closing of commodity sales and CCC loans.
15. TFU urges passage of a law requiring notification by FSA of their release of liens.
16. Bankruptcy code chapter 12 is important in that it enables family farm operators who have some chance of surviving to reorganize their debts, keep necessary land and equipment, and repay their obligations out of future earnings. Chapter 12 should be a permanent part of Bankruptcy Law.
S. SOCIAL SECURITY
1. We support the Medicare and Social Security Programs.
2. We strongly oppose any detrimental changes in Social Security and Medicare Programs.
3. Social Security should be compulsory for all citizens.
4. We oppose the taxing of Social Security.
5. We recommend that the Social Security fund be self-sustaining and separate from the annual federal budget.
6. Our Social Security fund should be separate from any other fund.
7. Catastrophic health care should be funded by the general public and provide for needs that are not being met at the present time.
8. We oppose Social Security funds being invested into at risk securities.
9. Social Security benefits should not be subject to garnishment for any reason.
T. RISK MANAGEMENT PROVISIONS
1. We urge a strong, affordable federal crop insurance program backed up by an adequate disaster relief program in times of declared disaster.
2. We support Federal Crop Insurance coverage and urge continual improvement of coverage for all ag related commodities, based on actual production history (APH) where available; for cases without APH the transitional yield cannot be lower than county FSA yields. We urge the establishment of APH yield floors to protect the producer in the event of successive crop failures.
We call for improvement in the Federal Crop Insurance Program to offer producers the option of the current program or a dollar value per acre program that would protect farmer income.
BE IT RESOLVED, that a viable crop insurance program, at a reasonable premium, be available for all program crops, including fruits, vegetables, and horticulture.
3. Disaster declared years should be excluded from APH and replaced with a yield not less than the NASS yield.
4. Crop Insurance Coverage deadlines should be tied more closely to beginning planting dates in any area.
5. Farmers should have the option of buying crop hail insurance which would be in full coverage 30 days after stand date.
6. Farmers should have the option of not planting crops when erosion is too high due to drought and wind as determined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Crop insurance coverage should not be denied as with preventive planting for farms that are too wet to plant.
U. PREDATOR CONTROL
1. We recommend the use of compound 1080 be continued in toxic collars in Texas.
2. We oppose any law which would prohibit the use of snares and leg hold traps for the control of predatory animals.
3. We support the control of livestock predators and increased research on rodent control.
4. We support an eradication program of wild and feral hogs. We oppose classifying these animals as wildlife or indigenous and support their classification as pests.
V. EMERGENCY FEED PROGRAM
1. TFU commends the USDA for the development and implementation of the Livestock Assistance Program (LAP) and supports the continuation of this program on an as needed basis (caused by drought, flood or other natural disasters). Regulations should exclude opportunity speculators who may be able to take unfair advantage of this program.
2. We recommend that government owned stocks of low quality grain in CCC be made available at a reduced price to stock farmers and ranchers during time of drought, flood, or any emergency.
3. Baled hay from CRP acres should be allowed to be sold under emergency conditions.
4. TFU demands that USDA implement the Livestock Preservation and Donation Program (LPDP) for farmers and ranchers who can no longer afford to sustain their base herd due to natural disaster, including drought.
W. ENERGY POLICY
1. Texas Farmers Union supports the development and use of all renewable energy sources to make the U.S. more energy self-sufficient.
2. We support the development of ethanol as a renewable source of energy to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and make America more self-sustaining.
The predicament in the Middle East makes it clearly apparent that we must maintain stable domestic oil production and must be serious about alternative fuels.
BE IT RESOLVED, that Farmer Union encourages the production and marketing of fuel grade ethanol manufactured from U.S. farm crop bi products.
We urge federal support for developing the fuel ethanol industry through research and public grants. We favor continuation of the exemption from the federal excise tax credits on ethanol fuel. We also favor the continuation of investment tax credits which encourage the production of alcohol.
3. We support expansion of the blending excise tax credit to include ETBT (ethyl tertiary butyl ether) production.
4. STATE ISSUE: We support continuation of the exemption for ethanol fuels from the motor fuels tax in Texas.
5. STATE ISSUE: We support the efforts of the Texas Ethanol Products Association to further the development and use of ethanol for fuel and other commercial and industrial uses.
6. Texas Farmer's Union supports the development of wind power for the production of energy.
7. We support laws requiring the purchase of power generated by individuals, or entities, at prevailing wholesale prices by utility companies.
8. Texas Farmers Union supports tax incentives for individual family farmers seeking to develop and/or utilize alternative and natural resources for the production of energy.
9. Texas Farmers Union opposes any subsidy on non-domestic produced renewable fuel.
10. Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes all cap and trade bills presented to Congress.
X. FUTURES AND OPTIONS TRADING
1. We recommend that the Chicago Board of Trade and Kansas City Boards and any other board stop buying and selling privately owned grain and cattle without the express permission of the owners of the commodities.
2. We oppose the trading of commodity contracts on all boards of trade in excess of actual production volume.
IX. NATIONAL ECONOMIC ISSUES
A. LABOR RELATIONS
1. Texas Farmers Union is affiliated with no labor organization, but we welcome the support of all groups on issues of mutual interest
2. We recognize the many areas of common interest we have with other Americans who work, both on and off the farm. We, as well as they, should have the right to bargain for a fair and equitable return without fear of harassment or retaliation.
3. In recognition of the support by working people for full parity income for family farmers, we lend our active support for minimum wage legislation to cover workers employed on commercial family farms.
4. Since so much of our agricultural production enters international trade channels and dock strikes hinder this movement, a plan such as a 90 day cooling off period should be developed in order that agricultural products can be moved during a dock strike to prevent damage to farmer export programs.
B. CHILD LABOR LAW
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union believes in the safe and fair treatment of children and young adults.
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union believes that growing up on the farm or working on a family farm teaches a good work ethic and provides a good foundation for the children and young adults to develop into a fair, respectful and hardworking adult.
WHEREAS, the current proposed Department of Labor law concerning child labor laws on the farm would undermine the family farmerís ability to raise his family to teach these family values and determination.
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union believes that the benefit of growing up on and or learning these family farm values will be greatly diminished by the current proposed farm child labor laws.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes the current proposed farm child labor laws.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union urges the Department of Labor to reassess the current proposed farm child labor laws. That would be detrimental to the core family values and teachings of children and young adults.
C. INVESTIGATIONS AND CONTROL OF MONOPOLISTIC PRACTICES
1. Price fixing practices are all too common in the cash commodity markets, especially during the harvest periods. We call for much more vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws.
2. We commend all investigative efforts of agencies and commissions to expose the monopolistic practices of the food and fiber trades. We urge that these unfair trade practices be eliminated once they are exposed.
3. Farmers Union opposes any manipulation of commodity futures markets by individuals or groups. We urge Congress to prohibit ownership of more than five percent of outstanding contracts for a commodity by any individual or group.
4. We recommend that every agency of the State and Federal government concerned with anti-trust enforcement be provided with adequate funds and personnel to curb the vicious practice employed by corporations in stifling or absorbing small business establishments. We feel that criminal penalties rather than mere fines should be invoked whenever possible to ensure compliance with and strengthen the provisions of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts.
5. We recommend stronger, more realistic fines (ten times the amount of alleged violations) and a three year ineligible period for government contract bidding by firms convicted of collusion, antitrust and monopolistic practices.
6. We believe that vertical integration by processors and retailers moving into large livestock and poultry feeding operations is just one step in the process of elimination of farmers and ranchers from the meat production business. Other examples are the broilers and vegetables grown by large chain stores. The practice of taking over production and finishing of any farm commodity for the purpose of controlling supply and demand is monopolistic.
a. We therefore ask that it be illegal for conglomerates whose major income is from sources other than agriculture to engage in producing agricultural products.
b. We urge the continuation of hearings into the "yellow sheet." If the investigation warrants remedial legislation, we demand it.
7. We urge congressional investigation to determine to what extent and to what effect foreign governments are participating in U.S. commodities trading.
8. TFU opposes trading by packers, their subsidiaries, or parent companies, in the commodity market in ways that directly affect cash prices. Insider trader laws and/or anti-trust laws should apply.
9. We urge the investigation of the discriminatory rail freight rates for agriculture commodities.
10. We propose making commodity research and promotion assessments applicable to Futures and Options trading.
11. We oppose private marketing and weather forecasting individuals and/or associated companies from trading in futures and/or options.
1. We recommend the amendment of the Federal Income Tax Law to raise the personal exemption.
Also, we recommend that an additional tax exemption be allowed for college student's expenses.
2. We urge that Congress take action to close the tax loopholes which allow high income individuals and corporations who enter farming to charge off their farm losses against their non-farm income. This tax loss farming situation creates an artificial incentive for non-farm interests to enter farming and creates unfair competition for family farmers. Also, this practice causes all smaller tax payers to have to carry a disproportionate share of the tax load.
3. We recommend that the Treasury Department continue the policy of allowing farmers to use either the accrual or cash basis for income tax purposes.
4. We oppose any further increase in Federal Excise Tax.
5. We demand Congress discontinue the foreign tax credit which the large, multinational corporations use to avoid all or much of their U.S. taxes.
6. We urge the continued exemption of farm trucks registered for farm use from the Federal Highway Use Tax.
7. We support reinstatement of the estate tax with an exemption of $4 million with that amount to be adjusted annually for inflation (base year 2001).
8. We urge the Internal Revenue Service to allow deductions for loss of the market value of agricultural crops which are destroyed by natural disaster.
9. For the purpose of federal capital gains and estate taxes, the amount of appreciation on assets due to inflation should be excluded from the calculation.
10. We recommend that the cost of medical insurance be fully deductible for the self-employed.
11. We urge Congress to repeal the alternative minimum tax.
E. HEALTH SERVICES
1. We recommend increased Federal and State appropriations for hospital construction, medical research, public health service, expended medical and nursing schools, and federal scholarships for doctors, dentists, and nurses training. Scholarships and college enrollment policies should be administered in such a manner as to at least double the number of students studying to be doctors, dentists and nurses. The American Medical Association should have no control over the number of students so studying.
2. We believe that the Farmers Union should continue to stress the need for more doctors and dentists in rural America and that rural hospitals be excluded from requirements regarding the number of babies born or the number of patients in relation to the number of rooms, in order to qualify for Federal Aid.
3. We commend the dedicated citizens within our communities who volunteer their time and efforts to provide us with Emergency Medical Services. We support the idea that Medicare and Medicaid should reimburse volunteer Emergency Medical Services the same amounts received by paid commercial Emergency Medical Services for the same services rendered.
4. We urge: (a) better drug education in public schools beginning at the elementary level, (b) more drug control programs, and (c) more rehabilitation centers and hospitals.
5. We support a National Health Care Plan.
F. POSTAL COSTS
1. We support the return of the U.S. Postal System to the status of a federal agency.
2. We are opposed to the elimination of rural Post Offices and changes in mail delivery.
G. LAW ENFORCEMENT
1. We urge tighter customs control against international drug traffic, to assist in state and local enforcement.
2. We oppose any law that would register or take away guns from law abiding citizens.
3. Texas Farmers Union demands that all officials, including the President of the United States, obey the supreme law of the Constitution of the United States.
4. Any Government employee or elected official convicted of a job related felony shall lose all pensions retirements or all benefits related to that job.
H. FARM TRUCK AND DRIVER REGULATIONS
We support the continuation of the farm exemption to the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, with extension of the exemption to include all trips to and from supply sources or markets, and between farms owned or operated by the exempt operator. TFU proposes that the State of Texas change the farm truck weight from 48,000 lbs. to 80,000 lbs.
I. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970
1. We oppose any regulation that additional guards or shields be required retroactively on existing farm and ranch machinery.
2. OSHA cotton and grain dust standards in the agriculture industry are totally unrealistic and unattainable, and should be withdrawn.
3. We support the permanent exemption of OSHA regulations for all farms with employees of 15 or less.
J. FEDERAL ELECTIONS
1. We favor public financing for all federal elections with strict spending limits, and equal access to free television time for all major political parties. We urge the broadcasting of election results and exit polls involving national campaigns, on Election Day, be prohibited until all polls are closed on Election Day.
2. We support the issuance of a voting receipt when electronic voting is used. This receipt would verify a citizen's vote and would be available for recounts if necessary.
3. We support electronic voting software ownership by the federal government and not private corporations.
K. DEFENSE SPENDING
Because our national resources are never plentiful enough to satisfy all of the competing demands, we oppose excessive defense spending, and urge that priority be given to programs which enhance and improve the quality of people's lives.
We urge no new nuclear facility be constructed without stringent and public examination of the need for such a facility and its health and environmental impact.
We urge the Nuclear Weapons Laboratories shift from the expensive and dangerous weapons research and development and concentrate on more peaceful pursuits, particularly environmental cleanup.
We urge an end to nuclear testing to diminish the threat of nuclear war.
We oppose the Homeland Security Act and the Patriot Act due to their removing our freedoms as U.S. citizens under the guise of national security.
X. TEXAS ISSUES
A. CORPORATE FARMS AND FOREIGN OWNERSHIP
1. We believe it is in the best interest of all our people to keep the ownership and operation of farm enterprises solely in the hands of individual and/or family corporation owner operators.
2. To this end, we urge the Texas Legislature to enact legislation to register all foreign farm land ownership, foreign producing operations, and total production by corporations and religious organizations, with a provision exempting family farm corporations.
3. We urge the Legislature to enact a law prohibiting foreign ownership of land in the State of Texas.
4. We urge the State Legislature to enact a law prohibiting foreign ownership of banks, savings and loans and other lending institutions in Texas.
1. We are in favor of continuation of the law requiring each vehicle owner to furnish proof of liability coverage for the period of vehicle registration before issuance of vehicle registration.
2. We recommend that auto and other insurance companies be required to include their investment income in their profit statements for the purpose of determining rates.
3. We urge the Texas Legislature to enact legislation creating a no fault vehicle insurance policy.
4. We favor a prorated system of insurance for seasonally used farm equipment.
5. The Railroad Commission should not require additional insurance or registration on farm trucks and trailers.
6. We oppose the efforts being orchestrated by large foreign underwriters of insurance companies to unfairly limit the fair recovery for losses to innocent victims, thereby increasing profit margins to those companies. We urge the Texas Legislature to protect our citizens and their public entities by rejecting unfair legislation veiled under the guise of "Tort Reform," and to adopt laws which ensure affordable insurance coverage to both public and private concerns.
7. We urge the Texas Legislature to revamp Workers' Compensation to protect all policy holders from foreclosure. We urge implementation of fair rates with protection against fraud and abuse involved in claims.
C. FARM FUEL
1. We recommend that gasoline and diesel tax refunds be continued.
2. We oppose any additional tax on gasoline and diesel at the retail level. We oppose attempts by state comptroller field men to discourage filing claims.
3. We recommend that the users of natural gas in rural areas, for irrigation and agricultural purposes, be encouraged to organize the gas users associations for purposes of bargaining for fair price rates with suppliers of natural gas.
4. We support a diesel fuel exemption for highway use on diesel powered vehicles that are purchased by only farmers and ranchers for their use in production of food and fiber.
5. Non tax diesel must not be charged a premium over road diesel. The price difference should always be the amount of the sales tax.
6. Rates charged for sales of natural gas or synthetic natural gas to be used for fuel for irrigation wells, or to be used directly in any other agricultural activity, shall be based on the BTU content, sulphur content, and adequate pressure of the gas, and shall be fair, just and reasonable.
7. Fuel for agricultural purposes should have top priority on any fuel allocation programs. Any governmental allocations should be based on annual usage.
8. We urge continued support of the present system of taxing farm trucks operating on LPG.
9. We support the continuation of tax incentive programs for the creation of domestic renewable fuel refineries.
D. RURAL ELECTRIC, WATER AND TELEPHONE SYSTEMS
1. We insist that electric cooperatives have equal rights with private power suppliers. Territorial integrity of electric cooperatives must continue to be assured under Texas laws. An electric cooperative should be permitted to serve any consumer desiring service in those areas served by cooperatives.
When a municipality annexes territories served by electric cooperatives, the rights of cooperatives to continue to serve consumers in such areas should continue to be protected by franchise and be enforced by State laws, which do not grant this right to rural electric cooperatives by the Texas Public Utilities Commission.
2. We urge each Electric Cooperative in Texas to examine its charter and bylaws and, if not already provided, to provide therein that sales of all or part of the property of cooperatives may be effected only upon a vote of at least a two thirds majority of the membership of the cooperatives, and further, that a proxy shall not be counted in the computation of this vote.
3. We further urge that the statute under which the cooperatives are incorporated be amended in order to require a two thirds majority vote of all the membership as a prerequisite to the sales of substantially all of the corporate assets, or to dissolution of the cooperatives.
We commend independent businesses that are striving to give rural people good service and urge all business to work together to give better service to rural and city areas which they serve.
4. RURAL ELECTRIC COOPíS
Whereas, Texas Farmers Union supports the growth of Renewable Energy across the United States.
Whereas, rural electric co-ops are exempt from letting customers hook their wind turbines and solar panels to the coopís electric grid.
Whereas, some rural co-ops allow customers to hook their wind turbines and solar panels to their grid and some coopís do not because of this exemption.
Therefore be it resolved, that Texas Farmers Union urges Congress to remove this exemption that allows these electric co-ops from not letting customers to hook up their wind turbines and solar panels to the co-ops electric grid.
5. We oppose the assessment of taxes on rural nonprofit water systems.
E. UTILITY REGULATIONS AND SERVICE
1. We ask that the appointed members of the Public Utility Commission have specific experience and educational requirements in their separate fields to represent equally all segments of utilities so regulated. At least two members should be consumer oriented.
2. We ask that the Public Utility Commission permit a fair return on the fair value of the property used in the rendering of service by the affected areas.
3. We ask that the Public Utility Commission permit modern, adequate service to all users of the utilities so regulated, at a reasonable rate.
Users of natural gas should be assured of the quantity and quality of the natural gas they purchase. The Weights and Measures Division of the Texas Department of Agriculture should be authorized to monitor the BTU level and the accuracy of gas meters in the State of Texas.
4. We oppose all construction of high voltage DC power lines until such time as their safety can be improved.
F. LAND AND WATER
1. Texas Farmerís Union supports the education of the cities and the people on water conservation and future ramifications of not conserving water.
2. Texas Farmerís Union supports the promotion and the future development of desalination of the Gulf of Mexico water for the purpose of future water needs.
3. The agricultural use of ground and surface water should be placed on the list of priorities, second only to domestic usage. The agricultural use of water should have a higher priority than industrial use.
4. We are strongly in favor of water laws that favor retention of ownership of our ground and surface waters by the current landowners; however, we oppose when water is harvested for export out of aquifer zone and/or water district.
The landowner is the legal owner of the water beneath the land, unless the water beneath the land has been sold, granted or bequeathed to another prior to the acquisition of the land by the current landowner on record; be it resolved that local control and management of the ground waters of the State of Texas be continued at the local level. Equal and fair treatment should be awarded to each landowner guaranteed by the local water district.
5. WHEREAS, the people of the State of Texas need to be educated on the negative effects of current state law, which takes control away from the local groundwater districts and would allow water to be exported out of the local groundwater districts.
6. The state law should be amended to permit each farm to store within its boundaries at least 200 acre feet of water for irrigation purposes, as well as other farm uses, without prior approval from any board, body or commission.
7. We support the theory that all of the people of Texas are entitled to share equally in all water studies and programs on a state, national and international basis.
8. We urge the Railroad Commission to assure that all abandoned oil wells are properly plugged, including seismograph holes.
9. The statewide water conservation plan should include additional financial incentives for agricultural producers.
10. We Support local Groundwater Districts using Chapter 52 powers of the Texas Water Code.
11. TFU opposes inner basin transfers of water unless all needs from originating basin are met. Water needs from originating basin shall be senior to all others.
12. Water should not be classified or covered as a mineral, but as a separate line item on all leases, deeds, transfers, etc.
13. Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes the taking of water rights by eminent domain.
G. SEEDS, INSECTICIDES AND HERBICIDES
1. We urge that the State Department of Agriculture be financed to the extent that it can more effectively enforce the Certified Seed Law to include seed vigor; and that laws governing purity, safety, bagging and labeling of production seed, insecticides and herbicides be better enforced.
We call upon the State Legislature to retain the Fair Trade Practices Act for violations of the Certified Seed Law, with the burden of proof placed on the seller.
2. The Texas Department of Agriculture, and not the Environmental Protection Agency, should administer equitable pesticide regulations regarding compliance with pesticides label requirements. We support the efforts of the Texas Department of Agriculture to develop fair and workable pesticide regulations. We recommend that TDA take appropriate action to discourage the filing of frivolous complaints against pesticide applicators.
3. The Texas Hazardous Material Act is redundant with the Federal Law and the Worker Protection Safety Act; therefore, we support the repeal of the Right to Know section of the Texas Agriculture Hazardous Material Act.
H. NOXIOUS WEED AND BRUSH CONTROL
1. We urge each Texas Farmers Union local to pursue noxious weed control methods in their respective counties, with attention directed to the present State laws which allow noxious weed control districts supported by a small tax on land for the district or county.
The State Highway Department, railroads and county precincts should be required to eradicate noxious weeds along their right of way adjacent to cultivated land where the landowner is trying to control these weeds.
2. We endorse the efforts of those organizations that promote and research brush control in Texas and urge the support of their privately financed programs.
3. We urge TDA to classify cockleburs as a noxious weed.
4. We urge TDA and USDA to work toward the elimination of interstate movement of noxious weeds and insects or anything that might damage Texas crops.
I. INSECT CONTROL
1. We urge each Texas farmer to take advantage of present legislation which gives farmers the right to organize insect control districts and enforce satisfactory controls with adoption of uniform planting dates. These organized boards need to enforce beginning planting dates as well as final planting dates and also stalk destruction dates.
2. FIRE ANT QUARANTINES
WHEREAS, the infestation of fire ants can have a devastating impact on production agriculture throughout the United States; and
WHEREAS, fire ants are transported through a variety of means, yet agricultural products are targeted for inspection, the state of Texas has implemented a quarantine policy to prevent the artificial migration of fire ants to other regions and states, but does not account for the spreading of fire ants via non-agricultural products.
WHEREAS, a quarantine policy cannot prevent the infestation of fire ants unless all means of artificial migration are addressed.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, if the state of Texas continues to pursue a policy on fire ant migration, Texas Farmers Union urges the quarantine program to include all means of transporting fire ants, not solely focus on agriculture. If the quarantine program is not expanded to account for other means of artificial fire ant migration, the program should be eliminated.
3. The imported fire ant is a deadly menace to humans, livestock, wildlife and machinery. We feel that Federal and State programs must be continued to research and eradicate this pest.
4. We support the Texas A & M Statewide Pest Management Plan Program and oppose the takeover of State pest management programs by private commodity groups.
5. We propose a ban on the use of nonspecific insecticides during certain periods of the growing seasons to aid in the spread of beneficial insects which enhances an IPM (integrated pest management) program.
1. Texas Farmers Union supports legislation to require that all appeals from Texas Railroad Commission rulings on well spacing and allowables be tried in the District Court where the land is located, and by jury if requested by the landowner and/or mineral owner, and that the Texas Railroad Commission hearing to set well spacing and allowables be held in a location most convenient to the landowners and/or mineral owners.
2. We oppose any and all legislation or rulings of the Texas Railroad Commission that would deny the landowner and/or mineral owner the traditional American freedom of choice in the development of their oil and gas minerals as long as this can be done without physical waste. This would include any and all forms of force pooling and force unitization.
3. We ask that legislation be passed ensuring that a royalty landowner be informed of the price to be received from natural gas when and if produced as well as the quality of the gas produced.
4. Texas Farmers Union urges the Legislature to provide for the reversion of mineral rights for which no owner of record can be established and which now escheat to the state. Such mineral rights should revert to the current landowner of record.
5. We urge that a lessee, royalty owner or their agents have the right to place gauges to monitor oil or gas at the wellhead on the wells in which they have an interest.
6. We call for gas companies to allow the use of natural gas, at wellhead prices, on the section on which the gas is produced for irrigation and household use.
7. Texas law should be amended to provide adequate safeguards and compensation for tenant and surface owners against damages by oil and gas drilling, seismograph and pipeline companies.
8. Gerrymandering type lines should not be allowed when including land into any given well.
1. Texas Farmers Union supports a graduated state income tax with the elimination of ad valorem taxes and sales taxes and fees.
2. The state sales tax exemption of all products purchased for the purpose of producing food and fiber shall be maintained as is with all raw inputs for other industries in Texas.
3. No tax shall be levied upon irrigation wells or water produced from them for agricultural purposes.
4. The state should reimburse local governments for losses due to state mandated exemptions.
5. To ensure that all taxing entities in the state utilize the same methods in assessing the valuation of property, we recommend that there be one tax appraiser for all taxing entities within the county. Each taxing entity within the district should appoint one member to the Central Appraisal District (CAD) board. The grievance committee should be appointed by the CAD Board (one member from each commissioner's precinct and one at large). This committee will function independently of the CAD board.
6. All land and home appraisal rates should be of fair market value in that district, rather than on state-wide appraisal.
7. TFU supports and urges legislation to divide the ad valorem tax into two parts: 1) surface value tax and 2) mineral rights tax. The two separate taxes shall not be more than the amount of the current singular tax. Provisions should be included for the mineral rights to automatically revert to the land surface owner if the mineral rights owner does not pay their taxes for three years.
8. We support the continued ag use valuation of ad valorum taxes as now in HB1060.
L. STATE INCOME TAX
Texas Farmers Union should begin an education program, directed to farmers, concentrated on the danger to agriculture of higher property and sales taxes and the advantages of an income tax.
M. TEXAS HOMESTEAD LAW
Texas Farmers Union supports the law which has provided protection for both urban and rural homeowners for over 100 years. We support the reinstatement of this law.
N. TEXAS EDUCATION
1. We support the continuation of full funding for Career Technology Education in
Texas public schools with regard to college/career and workforce readiness. It is recommended that funding be maintained for sufficient staffing of Career and Technology teachers, vocational counselors, and transition facilitators for the purpose of providing students guidance in selecting targeted career pathways.
2. It is recommended that collaboration between public schools and higher education be established to encourage the growth of students entering into the related fields of agriculture.
3. We recommend that vocational education teachers be maintained as bonus units to the local schools in the Minimum Foundation Program.
4. We support Extension service programs relating to production technology, farm equipment, and increased farm income. We urge that greater emphasis be given to marketing problems with the objective of helping farmers strengthen their market bargaining power. We oppose any funding cuts by the Federal Government in Extension Service programs.
5. We favor the consolidation of small independent school districts with other school districts only when the small district votes to consolidate and has the approval of the recipient school district. We favor the continuing of small rural schools of less than twelve grades.
6. We recommend that Texas Farmers Union work with other interested groups of citizens to achieve an equitable system of financing for the public schools of this state.
The state should not discriminate against those school districts which are property poor and have little tax base to support public schools.
7. Local control over our school districts should be maintained.
8. We support salary levels for public school teachers commensurate with salaries of professional persons of similar education and skills in other sectors of the economy.
9. Texas Farmers Union fully supports the educational reform measures passed by the Texas Legislature in 1985, and commends the efforts of political leaders who fought for reform.
10. We resolve to put more emphasis on Texas history and Texas geography in grade school and high school.
11. With declining economic base, local support dollars for libraries and education is declining. Texas ranks 46th in support of public libraries in the nation. All citizens need access to information regardless of where they live in this state. We support Texas Library Association's request for direct public aid for our libraries.
O. TEXAS TRANSPORTATION
1. We urge a strong state farm to market program.
2. We recommend more rigid enforcement of laws in keeping highways, lateral roads, parks and rights of way free of litter.
3. We recommend legislative action to require the state and railroad companies to keep road and railroad rights of way free of noxious weeds and litter, provided that individual owners are required to do the same on adjoining land.
4. We recommend a law prohibiting bottling and selling throw away beverage containers that do not deteriorate rapidly.
5. We urge that the placement of signs not interfere with movement of farm equipment.
6. We recommend continuation of the lateral road funds.
7. We recommend that the Texas legislature enact a law to allow special permits to agricultural producers so they can legally pull three farm trailers up to and including trailers 32 feet in length while in daylight hours, and in the process of harvesting and hauling agricultural commodities in the area where they are grown.
8. We recommend the suspension of all permit requirements for hauling hay.
P. HEALTH SERVICES
1. We urge expanded health care in rural areas. Rural residents are entitled to adequate ambulance service, mobile health care units, a resident physician, dentist and optometrist. In areas without competent physician services, we recommend the services of a qualified paramedic to render emergency medical services.
2. Hospital districts should be allowed to operate ambulance services.
3. We are in favor of regular inspection of all convalescent, rest homes and homes for the aged by State authorized inspectors.
Q. EMINENT DOMAIN
We believe the rights of private property owners need to be protected against those parties with condemnation rights and due process should be applied to all proceedings involving eminent domain.
Therefore, we favor:
1. All public hearing should be held in the county where the condemnation is located, with at least 30 days prior notification to all property owners and tenants of proposed condemned land.
2. Minimum state standards for payment of damages to protect all property owners and tenants.
3. Condemners, at their own expense, shall obtain independent appraisal of the property, and make it available to all interested parties prior to condemnation hearings.
4. We are opposed to granting power of eminent domain to coal slurry pipelines through either state or federal legislation.
5. We are opposed to granting power of eminent domain for condemnation of land for recreational purposes or for protection of endangered species and private commercial enterprise.
6. The Texas Farmers Union should oppose taxpayer funding of the bullet train in the state. Neither the bullet train nor the High Speed Rail Authority should have the authority of eminent domain to secure right of way; we also oppose the Trans Texas Corridor in like manner.
7. In the exercising of eminent domain the property owners shall retain all rights to water and minerals.
R. BEGINNER AND YOUNG FARMER PROGRAMS
We support the adequate funding of the Young Farmer Endowment Program, and urge the Governor to continue appointing bona fide farmers and ranchers to oversee the program.
S. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
1. The Texas Agriculture Commissioner should remain a statewide elected official and the Texas Constitution should be amended to include this office as a constitutionally mandated elected office.
2. We urge the state of Texas, through its agencies, with the aid of TDA, to purchase US produced meat and food products for use in any Texas programs such as the Texas Prison System.
3. TDA should set Texas interstate commerce and trade quality controls on a reciprocal basis.
T. PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED FARMERS AND RANCHERS
We resolve that the membership of the Texas Farmers Union urge the Texas Department of Agriculture and agriculture role agencies of other states to support efforts to help physically handicapped farmers and ranchers and other physically handicapped Texans who wish to engage in agriculture.
Texas has 10,000 physically handicapped farmers and ranchers, and countless other citizens who wish to engage in agriculture. These men and women represent an enormous untapped resource for Texas agriculture, and we support efforts to help these Texans realize their dreams.
XI. FARMERS UNION
A. COOPERATION AMONG PRODUCER GROUPS
We commend the efforts and urge the continuation of the Texas and National Farmers Union to bring about a greater unity of legislative activities by those general farm and farm commodity producers' organizations to enact laws that will strengthen the farmers' market bargaining power. We feel that this spirit of cooperation has spread far and has reaped many benefits. We stand ready to cooperate with all groups who are trying to raise farm income.
B. FARM ORGANIZATION COALITION
We commend the State and National Farmers Union leadership and staff for their efforts in creating a state and national coalition of farm organizations.
We urge our local and state leadership to promote a coalition of all farm organizations and commodity groups whose members believe in the welfare of the family farm and rural America.
We strongly recommend that all farm organizations accurately report membership numbers which account for members who are actual farmers, whose livelihoods are dependent on agriculture. We also encourage policymakers to recognize only those farm organizations which report these farmer memberships.
C. LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY
1. We urge that candidates for public office be judged and elected or defeated on the basis of their records and campaign pledges, as measured against the Farmers Union programs. Effective action includes not only exercise of the ballot, which we urge all citizens to do, but also promoting and taking part as individuals in the discussion of campaign issues and the stands of different candidates on the issues.
2. We urge the exertion of personal influence and the extension of personal financial aid in behalf of candidates who support The Farmers Union program. Study of issues and their discussion should be continued between elections. National Farmers Union organizations, officials and member families at the local, county, district and state levels should maintain continuous contact with public officials by personal and group visits, including the Washington trips, letters, telegrams and phone calls. Public officials should be kept informed on the Farmers Union program.
We urge the state and national organizations to continue to publish and distribute accurate and unbiased political and legislative information, including voting records.
D. COMMODITY COUNCILS
We urge the continuation of Farmers Union commodity councils on all commodities and related farm issues made up of members of the Texas Farmers Union to provide counsel and advice on legislation and to assist in the promotion of orderly marketing at state and local levels.
E. TEXAS FARMERS UNION INSURANCE
1. Through the Farmers Union Insurance Program, members have life and health insurance available to them. We endorse and approve the condition that all farmers shall be required to be Farmers Union members to obtain the benefits of its insurance program, with the exception of life insurance, other than group life. We call upon each and every member to give their full support to the Farmers Union Insurance Program to the end that the Texas Farmers Union shall have increased membership and stability.
2. We recommend that in order to gain membership, we must keep our insurance highly competitive.
3. We urge close cooperation between Farmers Union insurances and local county boards in the establishment and operation of local agencies.
4. We urge the Congress and State Legislature to abolish the sale of insurance, except credit life, by a public or private lending institution.
F. ORGANIZATION AND EDUCATION
There are many important jobs that must be done in building Farmers Union in Texas. The first is building membership. We have a responsibility in the Farmers Union to acquaint farm people with our program and invite them to become members. This year, every local should maintain a continuous and intensive membership drive. Another job to be done is that of education. Education in the Farmers Union is the process of people thinking together in order to arrive at some constructive action. To achieve this, there must be active locals so that people can meet together. Education starts among young people. Each county organization should encourage more family involvement.
1. We urge that every Farmers Union local have an active action group consisting of County Coordinator, Legislative Director, Program Chairman, Financial Director, Membership Director, Publicity Director, Communications Director and Youth Education Director, who will study and carry it to the members, especially youth members, and as far as possible to nonmembers in their respective counties.
2. We suggest more visual aids such as movies, charts, pictures and tests are developed to promote clearer understanding of our problems, and that the state education program is coordinated to include the use of these aids.
3. Youth camps held at strategic locations are an effective method to provide leadership training to selected groups of prospective young leaders. We urge all Farmers Union officials, our membership representatives, and our agents to give priorities to our members in the state. We endorse the efforts of the Board of Directors to continue a Youth Program.
4. Every effort should be made to increase our membership.
Since our state laws require voters to register, we urge that individual members of Texas Farmers Union register and encourage all eligible voters to register and vote.
We favor a review of the Electoral College process.
We support legislative action to provide for a binding presidential primary at the earliest date permissible and to move primary election dates nearer to general election dates.
Provisions should be adopted to discourage members of one party from crossing over to vote in the primaries of the other party.
Texas Farmers Union encourages the election of the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and all other statewide administrative and judicial officials.
H. CHURCH AND RURAL LIFE
1. The increased interest of various church groups in the family type farm and in the improvement of rural life is most encouraging to us. Religious influence has a major role in the improvement of family farm living.
2. The unique spiritual values of living on the land must be preserved. We believe that our nation can survive only by perpetuating the Christian principles upon which it was founded.
I. FARM PROTEST ACTION
1. We recognize that protest is a traditional and legitimate means of accomplishing or redress of grievances. We shall continue to participate in protest demonstrations as individual farmers and ranchers in order to make visible our dissatisfaction with the insensitivity of government toward the plight of agricultural producers.
As an organization, Farmers Union supports the objectives of 100 percent of parity farm prices.
We urge every individual to work their hardest to achieve this goal through whatever lawful means they believe to be useful and effective.
2. We urge all farmers to carefully consider the results and implications of selling any commodity at prices below parity.
SPECIAL ORDER OF BUSINESS
WHEREAS, The Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 inadequately addresses the issues facing family farmers.
WHEREAS, the current farm bill ACRE and SURE provisions for disaster assistance are totally inadequate to sustain Texas family farms.
WHEREAS, the economy of rural America continues to face challenges of increasing energy expenses, weather related disasters and inadequate market competition.
WHEREAS, the target price on commodities has not increased in over thirty years, and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union supports an increase in target price of corn to 160% of loan rate and an increase in commodity loan price to 60% of difference of average cost of production. Set all other crops at the historic ratio to corn.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union supports the enactment of disaster assistance that is commodity specific and seasonal specific that will be a true safety net for diversified farms.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes the current proposed insurance based farm bill that eliminates direct payments, cuts in conservation, and disaster programs, and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union supports a new farm bill that provides an adequate safety net that is counter-cyclical and based upon the cost of production. The new bill should value the environment by fully funding authorized conservation programs as they were originally intended and value the less fortunate by fully funding food and nutrition programs.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union encourages new resources and other efforts to add differentiated value to family farmers, ranchers and fisherman for sustainability and competiveness of specialty crops, livestock and seafood products. Proactive energy efforts should he prioritized to increase use of fuels from the farm to lessen our dependency upon foreign oil, thus revitalizing rural America through farmer and rancher owned community based projects. A new farm bill should provide tools to allow Americas food and fiber producers to be competitive in the global economy through a strong competition title.
Whereas, Texas Farmers Union acknowledges a new farm bill will be written.
Whereas, the direct payments have become a popular choice of program cuts to fund an insurance program.
Whereas, the direct payments are a vital part of Texas farmers ability to succeed in farming by securing financing and banks have already let it be known that it will be hard to secure sufficient financing without direct payments.
Therefore be it resolved that Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes any cuts to the direct payment program.
Therefore be it further resolved Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes National Farmers Union from lobbying for any such cuts to the direct payment program that would be detrimental to Texas farmers.
DOMESTIC WATER NEEDS
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union recognizes that the water needs of the State of Texas increases every year, and
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union recognizes that the ongoing drought not only affects farmers and ranchers, but also affects the water needs of ALL the State of Texas, and
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union recognizes the fact that the state needs to be proactive and not reactive to the growing water needs.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union urges the State of Texas to immediately start planning for future water needs that are fair to all water owners, and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union urges that any funding for these plans should not be taken away from the state education budget, and
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union strongly supports that in the event that farmersí, ranchersí, and landownersí water is confiscated by the state, federal, or any other entity, they should be duly compensated for that year, future loss of production, decreases in property values, or any other financial hardship that arises from this action.
WHEREAS, current U.S. trade policies and proposed trade agreements have not resulted in the fair trade of agricultural products, improved agricultural commodity prices better food health and safety, reduced hunger or poverty; and
WHEREAS, proponents of free trade have consistently overestimated the potential benefits of additional U.S. agricultural exports in proposed trade agreements awaiting congressional approval, and the promise far exceeds the performance; and
WHEREAS, the United States has become the largest importer of food products in the world as our agricultural trade balance has collapsed. It is projected the U.S. will become a net importer of food products for the first time in half a century in the near future; and
WHEREAS, U.S. negotiators continue to trade away the interests of U.S. farmers and ranchers to the benefit of global agri-business and non-agricultural sectors at the current World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. The WTO process lacks basic democratic principles, including transparency. The WTO is a policy setting body on and international level and undermines each nation's ability to determine its own domestic policies that reflect their own values and needs; and
WHEREAS, the current proposal by the U.S. trade negotiators will dictate future domestic farm policy, which should be the role of Congress, not U.S. trade officials;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes the current United States' WTO proposal and future negotiations that do not include all factors of trade. Congress must resume its responsibility to oversee U.S. trade policy and reject reauthorization of Trade Promotion Authority; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Texas Farmers Union calls for an immediate halt in current trade negotiations that perpetuates the race to the bottom of agriculture commodity prices. Future trade agreements must address differences in labor standards, environmental standards and currency manipulation, not just domestic supports, export subsidies and market access. Furthermore, trade agreements must provide the opportunity for farmers and ranchers across the globe to receive a fair price for their commodities, which will grow the economies of agricultural based nations, regardless of whether they are undeveloped, developing or developed.
1) Texas farmers Union supports a national supply management program.
Due to the current economic crisis, coupled with the over production of milk; it needs to be addressed immediately.
2) We support a transparent pricing plan where commodity numbers can be verified and market manipulation is impossible. This plan should pay dairymen faster, which would ensure that the market could better adjust to the supply and demand faster, shortening times of overproduction or shortages.
3) Due to the very unusual financial market conditions, Texas Farmers Union supports a floor price reflective of cost of production/cwt to insure that overproduction does not leave the nation with shortage of milk in the future.
4) In light of National Milk Producers Federationís historic failure to honestly represent interests of U.S. Dairy Producers, Texas Farmerís Union holds severe doubts about National Milk Producers Federationís new policy known as ďFoundation for FutureĒ.
5) Because of block voting by milk co-ops, we want the federal government to realize that National Milk Producers Federation does NOT represent all dairy farmers.
MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE MPC, BLENDS AND FOOD
PREPS CIRCUMVENTING TRADE LAWS
WHEREAS, imported Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC), blends and food preps have created a significant loophole in U.S. dairy trade policy and have distorted the U.S. milk market; and
WHEREAS, MPC was not considered a dairy product by the WTO, in the last round of dairy Tariff Rate Quotas, limits were not established; and
WHEREAS, MPC and other dairy blends have been used illegally in the production of standardized cheeses; and
WHEREAS, importers are adjusting the protein of nonfat dry milk so that it is classified by the U.S. Customs Service as MPC, and not subject to tariff rate quota, and
WHEREAS, imports of MPC blends and food preps are displacing domestic milk used for cheese making, thereby depressing farm milk prices to a historical low; and
WHEREAS, the 2001 GAO report said that MPC imports had surged by more than 600 percent in six years.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Farmers Union supports:
1. Maintaining FDA's current definition of milk to prevent additives such as sodium gluconate and MPC from being used in standardized cheese.
2. Actions that restrict the importation of MPC blends and food preps.
3. Properly informing consumers about the use of MPC, blends and food preps in food production.
4. Making MPC and other dairy blends subject to Tariff Rate Quotas.
5. Strong penalties for those dairy plants using MPC in standardized cheese production.
6. Requirement of an end use certification on all imports of MPC blends and food preps.
FUNDING FOR TEXAS PUBLIC EDUCATION
WHEREAS, the Bill of Rights in the Texas Constitution states that Texas will fund public education, and
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature did not adequately fund Texas public education, and
WHEREAS, hundreds of school districts across the State of Texas have filed lawsuits against the State, seeking adequate funding for public education;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, the Delegate Body of the 111th Convention of the Texas Farmers Union hereby asks the Governor and the Legislature of the State of Texas to adequately fund Texas Public Education.
PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS RETIREMENT FUNDING
WHEREAS, rural school districts across the State of Texas especially have difficulty in attracting teachers to their districts, thus depend upon the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) benefits to help them fill their teacher vacancies, and
WHEREAS, a group of private financiers, known as the Texas Public Policy Foundation, seek to alter the Texas Teacher Retirement plan by substituting a Defined Contribution Plan for the existing successful Defined Benefit Plan, and
WHEREAS, retired teachers may outlive their livelihood under the Foundationís proposed Defined Contribution Plan, and
WHEREAS, the present TRS is projected to have enough funds to pay for benefits for its annuitants well beyond the year 2100, and
WHEREAS, the TRS Pension Fund earned 15.5% in 2011, and now out performs 75 per cent of other investment funds around the country;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, the Delegate Body of the 111th Convention of the Texas Farmers Union hereby asks the Governor and Legislature of the State of Texas to maintain the Defined Benefit Plan in the Texas Teacher Retirement System.
Whereas, the economic times that family farmers and ranchers are going through now has put undo financial hardships on all people.
Whereas, Texas Farmers Union feels any purposed increases in National Farmers Union membership dues would cause membership loss.
Therefore be it resolved Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes purposed increases in National Farmers Union membership dues.
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two thirds of each House concurring therein), that the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.
Section 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.
Section 3. Such Corporate and other private entities be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people
Section 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidateís own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.Ē
CAP and TRADE
Whereas, the current cap and trade bills that are presently before the Senate and the House of Representatives are detrimental to agriculture as they are written.
Whereas, the current cap and trade bills proposed future analysis calls for as much as 59 million acres of crop and pasture land to be switched to forestry.
Therefore be it resolved, that Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes the cap and trade bills currently before Congress.
FUELS FROM THE FARM
WHEREAS, rising fuel costs have had an tremendous negative economic impact across rural America and specifically on farmers and ranchers who are unable to pass increased production costs forward, and
WHEREAS, the family farm and ranch members of Texas Farmers Union support the broader use of ethanol and bio diesel as transportation fuels to decrease America's dependency on foreign oil; and
WHEREAS, Texas Farmers Union fully endorsed and supports implementation of the landmark Renewable Fuels Standard included in comprehensive energy legislation passed by Congress in 2005, which will help create vital economic opportunities for family farmers, ranchers and their rural communities; and
WHEREAS, we support full implementation of the Energy Title and renewable energy initiatives in 2002 Farm Bill and subsequent legislation, including tax incentives and program initiatives, research and market development to expand and support domestic farm energy sources such as wind, solar, targeted farm based hydrogen production, and biomass sources including; animal waste, crop waste, plants and other organic matter from the farm, and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union supports federal and state renewable energy policy which will provide for expanded roles for wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and farm based hydrogen production and renewable transportation fuels in current energy markets and federal and state policy initiatives, to encourage the use of and growth of renewable energy sources from the farm,
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, Texas Farmers Union supports expanding the current ethanol RFS over the next ten years, as well as establishing a separate national Renewable Fuels Standard for bio diesel use in transportation fuels and propose a voluntary farm stored Strategic Renewable Energy/Bio fuels Reserve dedicated to bio fuels and energy feedstockís storage and production.
RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE TRANS TEXAS CORRIDOR
Texas Farmers Union strongly opposes the construction of the Trans Texas Corridor and its impact on the agricultural community and private property rights. In addition, Texas Farmers Union calls for the repeal of House Bill 3588, the authorizing Legislation of the Trans Texas Corridor.
TENASKA COAL PLANT
WHEREAS, the Texas Farmers Union is dedicated to attaining clean air, sustainable water usage, and reasonably-priced electric energy in sufficient quantities;
WHEREAS, pending plans for the construction of a coal-burning electric power plants in Nolan County, Texas may adversely impact air quality, wind royalty payments to landowners, and water availability in numerous Texas locales; may adversely affect rural agricultural interests, may adversely affect the health, morale, and productivity of urban and rural residents, and may adversely affect the attractiveness, usefulness of family farms, and cause diminution of revenue associated with such adverse effects;
WHEREAS, the Texas Farmers Union is committed to ensuring that said plants use generation methods best calculated to minimize air pollution while still providing sufficient electric generating capacity for Coalition membersí needs at reasonable prices;
WHEREAS, the Texas Farmers Union seeks to ensure that the federal and state governmental agencies that are responsible for permitting said construction provide full and fair consideration of these concerns, and that appropriate studies, reports, and expert opinions are presented to these agencies in the course of their decision-making process;
WHEREAS, the adoption of full and fair procedures and standards by state and federal agencies that adjudicate and adopt rules on environmental matters is of fundamental importance to all members of the Texas Farmers Union;
WHEREAS, failure to attain and maintain federally-mandated clean air standards, insufficient electric energy, and unreasonably priced electric energy each can substantially and adversely affect, among other important things, the level of economic activities in the Texas Farmers Union membersí jurisdictions;
WHEREAS, jointly participating in permitting proceedings and related efforts with the Multi-County Coalition, LLC will allow the Texas Farmers Union to benefit from the outcome of intervention in these proceedings while minimizing the costs of intervention; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Farmers Union is of the opinion that it is in the best interest of its members to become a member of the Multi-County Coalition; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Farmers Union further finds that Wesley Sims should be appointed as the official representative for Texas Farmers Union to the Multi-County Coalition, LLC and should be authorized to act and vote in the Texas Farmers Unionís behalf in all respects in relation to the Multi-County Coalition including any intervention in permit proceedings and related appeals or other litigation that the Coalition may conduct.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE TEXAS ARMERS UNION THAT:
Section I. The recitals contained in the preamble of this Resolution are determined to be true and correct and are hereby adopted as a part of this Resolution.
Section II. The Texas Farmers Union accepts membership in the Multi-County Coalition (the ďCoalitionĒ).
Section IV. The Texas Farmers Union hereby appoints Wesley Sims to serve as the Texas Farmers Unionís representative to the Coalition and to act on its behalf in oil respects in relation to the Coalition including any intervention in permitting proceedings including related appeals, or other litigation that the Coalition may conduct, without diminishing the power and authority of the Texas Farmers Union Attorney to conduct litigation. It is understood that before the Coalition commences any litigation with the permitting proceedings or related appeals that the Coalition membership other than associate members will be giving reasonable notice and that members who did not approve other litigation that the Coalition authorizes may withdraw from the Coalition.
Section VI. The Texas Farmers Union agrees that the Texas Farmers Unionís representative is authorized to take those steps that are reasonable and necessary to comply with the intent of this Resolution.
Section VII. This Resolution shall become effective immediately upon its passage.
|Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556|