Southwest Dairy Days set Nov. 7 at T&K Dairy near Snyder

SNYDER – After a year off, the annual Southwest Dairy Day will return Nov. 7 at the T&K Dairy and will be hosted by the Collier family and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

T&K Dairy is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 East and County Road 1673 east of Snyder.

The program, free and open to the public, will begin at 9 a.m. and feature tours, exhibitor booths and lunch courtesy of Hi-Pro Feeds. It will conclude at 3 p.m. Online registration is available at agriliferegister@tamu.edu.

“Southwest Dairy Day is an annual event that highlights new technologies and addresses issues that are of concern to the industry,” said Juan Piñeiro, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension state dairy specialist in Amarillo.

“The main highlights of this year’s program will be automatic milking systems – specifically stationary milking robots, rumination collars, robotic feed pushers, ventilation and manure management,” said Jennifer Spencer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension state dairy specialist in Stephenville.

The program will offer two Dairy Outreach Program Area or DOPA continuing education credits.

“We would like to thank the allied industry for their support and in particular our platinum and gold sponsors,” Piñeiro said. “Without their support this event would not be possible.”

Vendor booth registration and sponsorship opportunities are open through Oct. 31. Rates and more information are available by contacting Piñeiro at juan.pineiro@ag.tamu.edu or 806-677-5610 or Spencer at jennifer.spencer@ag.tamu.edu or 208-440-9037.

Around the Texas Capitol: From constitutional amendments to legislative seats, it’s all about elections

By Shayne Woodard, J Pete Laney and Lauren Spreen, TAD Governmental Affairs

As Texas legislators start to decide if they are running for election to return to the Capitol in January 2021, the fruits of their labor from this past session are coming due. Of the 1,429 House and Senate bills passed last spring by the 86thLegislature, 820 became law effective on Sept. 1. Others became law immediately upon signing by Gov. Greg Abbott or had other effective dates.

Also, Sept. 1 was the start of the state’s new fiscal biennium, which means a new budget is now in effect. House Bill 1, the two-year budget – the only bill the Texas Legislature is constitutionally required to pass every session – totals $250.65 billion.

Included in the budget was $17.4 million to build the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine. The new school will help meet the state’s demand for veterinarians, especially those who treat large animals.

House Bill 1 also reinstates a critical budgetary tool for the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) that allows for unexpended balance authority and intra-strategy transfer authority for the agency. TDA lost this ability when the 84th Texas Legislature required TDA to move into cost recovery on an annual basis in order to achieve greater efficiency as a state agency. The inability to retain unexpended balances across budget cycles directly clashes with the staggered fee assessment schedule in the agricultural industry.

Other bills – now laws as of Sept. 1 – that impact Texas agriculture include:

HB 191 by Rep. Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) creates a statewide program for the safe disposal of pesticide waste and containers led by TDA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. It establishes a pesticide disposal fund to be administered by TDA that will consist of fees already being collected for purposes of pesticide disposal activities. The annual deposit of money received into the fund is capped at $400,000, and TDA is prohibited from increasing the amount of a pesticide registration fee collected for purposes of pesticide disposal activities.

HB 1325 by Rep. Tracy King (D-Uvalde) requires participation in the state hemp program in order to cultivate, handle or process hemp in Texas. The law outlines a state hemp production plan written by TDA that would give the state primary regulatory authority over hemp grown in the state.

HB 2290 by Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Killeen) relates to the placement of the slow-moving vehicle emblem. Previously, slow-moving vehicles were required to mount an emblem on the rear of the vehicle that is three to five feet above the road surface. The new law removes the height requirement and allows the owner to mount the emblem at a height that does not impair the visibility of the emblem.

HB 2837 by Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) is a multi-purpose transportation law that relates to the operation of and equipment for vehicles. The law contains several small changes that will be helpful to farmers and ranchers. One provision states that a trailer, semitrailer or pole trailer that is equipped with air or vacuum brakes or that has a gross weight of 4,500 (instead of 3,000 pounds) is required to have brakes. Another provision allows slow-moving vehicles to travel on an improved shoulder.

On the November 2019 ballot: Flood Infrastructure Fund

On Aug. 7, supporters of Proposition 8, which will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, announced the formation of the Stronger Texas PAC. Proposition 8 proposes a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would create the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects across the Texas

On the 2020 ballot: Texas legislative seats

Texas Senate:

Of the Senate’s 31 members, 16 are up for re-election in 2020. So far, only one – Sen. José Rodríguez (D-El Paso) of District 29 – has announced he will not run again.

Texas House of Representatives:

Two incumbents have announced they will not run again:

Two incumbents have announced they will not run again:

Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford)

John Wray (R-Waxahachie)

Three incumbents have already retired:

HD 28 – John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) resigned effective Sept. 30

HD 100 – Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) resigned June 8 after election as Mayor of Dallas

HD 148 – Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) resigned effective Sept. 30

Special elections for fill these three House seats are sent for Nov. 5. Early voting is Oct. 21-Nov. 1.

On the November 2019 ballot: Flood Infrastructure Fund

On Aug. 7, supporters of Proposition 8, which will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, announced the formation of the Stronger Texas PAC. Proposition 8 proposes a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would create the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects across the Texas.

Proposed trade pact could further boost thriving Texas dairy industry

By Darren Turley, TAD executive director

This month I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at the Texas Farm Bureau headquarters in Waco. Several commodity groups were represented at this town hall-style meeting and listened to the senator discuss the importance of trade agreements to U.S. agriculture, such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA is expected to be an even greater benefit to Texas agriculture due to our state’s proximity to the growing Mexico economy. Sen. Cruz encouraged attendees to have their membership contact Democrats in Congress to ask them to support USMCA because of the Texas agriculture impact.

The Texas dairy industry is poised to increase sales to our southern neighbor with the passage of the USMCA. Mexico already is a large consumer of our dairy products, but there is an opportunity for more sales. With new plants in Texas producing butter, butter powder and milk powder, Texas dairies are positioned to export into the Mexican market for decades to come.

The $3.5 billion impact the dairy industry has on the Texas economy will continue to grow, as these plants are capable of moving more and more product south across the border.

Sen. Cruz’s comments were a vast change from almost three years ago when TAD staff toured Hilmar Cheese and Del Rio Dairy with him to educate him on the dairy industry in Texas. He now has a better understanding of the importance of agriculture to Texas and the U.S. He also understands that agriculture in Texas represents many votes.

TAD has a continuous challenge to educate lawmakers and regulators about the economic impact of the Texas dairy industry. You can learn about that economic impact on our website.

I encourage those in the Texas dairy industry to contact your congressional representatives and tell them why USMCA is important.

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