Ag leaders address national, state issues
Wilson County Farm Bureau President Ervin Kotzur (left) presents Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke with a gallon of peanut brittle Oct. 18. See wilsoncountynews.com for video of Dierschke’s keynote address to members of the Wilson County Farm Bureau.
‘Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.’
FLORESVILLE -- The above words may best sum up the feelings of cattlemen, farmers, and anyone involved in the U.S. agriculture industry today. Those involved in the ag industry are questioning the action or lack of action of the U.S. House of Representatives going on recess before discussion and the vote of the House’s ag committee-approved version of the 2012 Farm Bill. National and state leaders addressed this and other issues, including the national beef check-off program and the state grain indemnity program referendum, during the Wilson County Farm Bureau Convention held Oct. 18 in the Wilson County Show Barn.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar made a brief appearance and offered input on the status of the 2012 Farm Bill. Cuellar said the discussion of a one-year extension of the current farm bill is wrong and he supports a new five-year farm bill.
Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke also addressed the farm bill status and echoed Cuellar’s sentiments, adding that in all likelihood, a 2013 Farm Bill will be approved after a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill.
A second issue yet to be discussed in Congress is the estate tax. The current level of exemption, listed at $5 million per individual and a 35 percent assessed tax rate, will decrease to $1 million exemption with a 55 percent assessed tax rate, if Congress takes no immediate action by the end of the year.
“If I had it my way ... I would get rid of the death tax,” Cuellar said. “You pay taxes when you are alive and you pay taxes when you are dead.”
While Cuellar addressed U.S. congressional issues, Dierschke, the keynote speaker, spoke on two issues before the Texas Legislature -- education and water.
Education will be a major issue for the Texas Legislature, Dierschke said. The state’s population of 6.5 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade is larger than the population of 20 states, he said.
The water shortage within the state will be a problem for the next 50 years, according to Dierschke. Two means to alleviate the shortage are desalinization and reuse of water, which has received bad reviews in the past.
Water was among the three state policy resolutions voted on by the Wilson County Farm Bureau members.
Members approved a water-management resolution during the convention, which states, “We support a dedicated source of revenue to fund the state’s share of projects in the state water plan. This source of revenue should be broad-based and low-cost with a minimal effect on agricultural producers.”
The group also approved a marketing resolution regarding the national beef check-off program.
Currently, the beef check-off program is under scrutiny for alleged mismanagement of the funds since 2010, with a lawsuit being filed in August by the Organization for Competitive Markets against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.
The language in the Farm Bureau policy book reads, “We support the establishment of a statewide beef check-off program in the event the national Beef Check-off program should be discontinued.”
The Wilson County Farm Bureau approved a resolution that states, “We support the establishment of a statewide beef check-off program.”
A third resolution involved a severance tax to assist in infrastructure needs due to the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas exploration. For more on this, including comments from Dierschke, see page 4A.
While these resolutions will be forwarded to the Texas Farm Bureau State Resolution Committee for review, another resolution that began as a Farm Bureau resolution received the Texas Legislature’s approval and will now be voted on by grain producers.
Texas Farm Bureau District 12 Director Russell Boening explained that the upcoming Texas Grain Producers indemnity referendum will begin Monday, Nov. 19. Ballots will be available at all Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offices during regular business hours. For more information, see Oct. 31 “Grain producers to vote on statewide indemnity fund” or visit www.TexasGrainIndemnity.org.
Wilson County Farm Bureau
Election of Wilson County Farm Bureau directors took place during the annual convention held Oct. 18 in Floresville. Carl Hoefelmeyer, Bill Hofferichter, Wayne James, Ferdinand Kotzur, Jason Peeler, Edmond Pruski, Milton Lowak, and Charles Herber were re-elected to the board. They join directors Russell Boening, Paul Dylla, James Korzekwa, Ervin Kotzur, Pat Ray, and Tom Ortmann.
These directors serve the 3,242 members that comprise the Wilson County Farm Bureau. Wilson County’s retention rate of 94.52 percent is ranked No. 1 in the state, versus the state average of 89.73 percent. It is anticipated that the organization will reach the 4,000-member milestone in three years.