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June 3, 2002     (512) 463-0300

Agricultural Issues Take Center Stage At Texas Capitol

In a rare joint meeting, the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, along with the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee and Agriculture Policy Board examined issues that Texas farmers will face in coming years. Testimony centered on the recently signed federal farm bill and how it will affect the state's second largest industry.

Senator Eddie Lucio was sitting in with the group today. He strongly suggested that they should send a message to both the Presidents of the United States and Mexico, urging them to solve the water dispute that today threatens agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley. Valley farmers are claiming that the north central Mexican states are illegally hoarding water, denying Valley farmers as well as those in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas their fare share.

Senate Subcommittee Chairman Robert Duncan said it's no surprise to anyone that the coming session will be difficult as far as money is concerned, but that issues such as the regulation of pesticide and distribution of water are equally important to agriculture.

During invited testimony, Dr. Ed Smith from the Texas Cooperative Extension service noted the cooperation that has existed between the institutions of higher learning regarding agricultural research. He also commented on the current farm program, saying it is a falacy that the program forces overproduction of crops and price changes. He said it simply maintains the status quo. Other testimony concerned how the U.S. agricultural trade fits into the world trade system.

Also scheduled to testify at today's hearing were: Dr. Joe Outlaw of the Agriculture and Food Policy Center of Texas A&M University; John Fuston, the State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Jerry Harris, Chairman of the Texas State Farm Service Agency; Bryan Daniel, Texas Director of USDA Rural Development; and Tomas Dominguez, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA.

The Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture is chaired by Senator Robert Duncan. Members include Senators Craig Estes, Eddie Lucio and David Bernsen. Members of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee and Agriculture Policy Board in attendance today include Representatives Dis Miller, Rick Green, Betty Brown, Wayne Christian, David Swinford, Jim McReynolds, Suzanna Hupp, Lois Kolkhorst, and Robby Cook. Other committee members include Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs. The committees recessed subject to call of the chair.

You can access the archived video webcast from the web page of Subcommittee on Agriculture.

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