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April 17, 2000     (512) 463-0300

Joint Agriculture Policy Committee Met in College Station

COLLEGE STATION - The Joint Agriculture Policy Committee met at the Bush Presidential Conference Center on Monday, April 17, 2000 at 1:00 p.m. Opening remarks were made by Senator Tom Haywood on behalf of the Senate. Representative Jim McReynolds made opening remarks for Co-Chairman David Swinford, who was unable to make the meeting because of a death in the family. Senator Steve Ogden welcomed the committee to College Station and gave an overview of House Bill 2 (HB2), the Agriculture and Rural Development Act of 1999.

Members of the committee include Senators Tom Haywood of Witchita Falls, serving as co-chair, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Teel Bivins of Amarillo, and Steve Ogden of College Station; along with Representatives David Swinford, serving as co-chair, Robert Cook of Eagle Lake, Jim McReynolds of San Augustine, and Bob Turner of Voss.

The charge for the committee is to develop a sound agricultural policy for Texas in the 21st Century by comprehensively studying the condition of agriculture, the state's current programs in support of agriculture, and the role of the state in preserving the agriculture industry. The Committee Shall work closely with the Texas Department of Agriculture, the comptroller, the Texas Department of Economic Development, and other agencies and institutions of higher education as determined by the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house of representatives.

Commissioner Susan Combs of the Texas Department of Agriculture was the first to testify about concerns pertaining to the future of Texas agriculture. One being, much of the rural population is not receiving their census questionnaires because much of the rural population uses post office boxes; the Census Bureau will not send the questionnaire to a post office box. She also spoke about expanding on the agricultural market.

Stacey Hoefling, a student from the University of A&M with a degree in agriculture development, gave her perspective about the future of agriculture in Texas and her experiences in Washington D.C. Jack McReynolds, son of Representative Jim McReynolds, who is in a doctoral program of poultry science at A&M, made remarks about the poultry industry concerning composting chicken carcasses and waste. A drought and economic outlook was given by the Edward G. Smith of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. He said three out of four farms are in too poor of a position to have good economic income in the next five years. He expressed the possible need for government assistance.

Other invited witnesses who testified before the committee were John Beverly, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station; Jim Hall, Texas Forest Service; Konrad Eugster, Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory; and Gary Nunley, Texas Wildlife Damage Management Services.

The committee stands recessed subject to the call of the chair.

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