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Conduct active oversight of the development of a statewide fire
ant research and management plan by the Fire Ant Research and
Management Account Advisory Council (FARMAAC).
Conduct active oversight of the implementation of a statewide
bovine and cervidae tuberculosis plan.
Tuberculosis in cattle has been on the rise for the past decade
in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. Bovine TB has also
been found in captive deer herds, including two herds in Texas.
Bovine TB is caused by Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) and can
infect all warmblooded animals, including humans. The rise in
bovine TB caught most of the cattle, deer, and related animal
health industry unaware. There has been little research on TB
in the last 60 years. The mainstay diagnostic shin test is 100
years old and is inadequate in many ways and a vaccine for TB
is not available.
Study the potential for new educational and recreational opportunities
in connection with properties under ownership or management by
the Texas Forest Service.
4 Establish a
forest conservation and education center at the W. Goodrich Jones
Review federal farm legislation and assess its impact on Texas
The 1996 federal farm legislation, the Federal Agricultural Improvement
and Reform (FAIR) Act, is the largest and most significant change
in farm bill legislation since the farm programs were implemented
in the 1930s. The impact of the "FAIR" Act will impact
financial institutions, suppliers, local businesses, processors,
and individual consumers.
The new legislation calls for direct subsidies on agriculture
to be scaled down over the next seven years. This will force
agricultural producers to adopt new technology and utilize risk
management techniques such as commodities market hedging.
Farmers will receive fixed, but declining, government payments
based on past production for the next seven years no matter the
price of commodities or whether they have dismal or bumper crops.
USDA officials are advising farmers to save some of this money
for unsure times ahead. It is widely predicted that moderate-sized
farms are at the highest risk of failing and that the greatest
pressure will be on wheat, rice, cotton, peanut and dairy farms.
While the impact on consumers is uncertain, some economists predict
that the government's consumer price index for food will increase
at least five percent next year.
Review efforts and opportunities to develop value-added industries
for Texas agricultural products, including factors which may prevent
increased production and marketing of Texas products.
Texas wine production began in 1662 when Spanish missionaries
established the state's first vineyards at the Ysleta Mission
near El Paso. Since then, Texas has become the fifth largest
wine producing state after California, New York, Washington and
Oregon. Texas produced one million gallons of wine with 26 wineries
in 1995. Currently, Texas has 155 commercial vineyards and about
3,100 are planted in grapes. Eighty percent of the state's grapes
are produced in the High Plains and West Texas; 10% in North Central
Texas; and 10% in the Hill Country. The wine industry employed
2,189 people in 1995. Most of Texas' wineries are small and do
not use distributors to sell their wine. The four largest wineries
produce 80% of the wine in Texas and sell most of their wine through
On May 31, 1996, the Agriculture and Livestock Interim Committee
on Value-Added Agricultural Industries met to hear testimony regarding
opportunities to develop the Texas wine industry. The testimony
was presented at the hearing by representatives of the Texas Wine
and Grape Growers Association. At a later date, written information
was presented to the committee by members of the Associated Wineries
of Texas. The Associated Wineries of Texas consists of the four
largest Texas wineries.
A Joint Interim Committee (committee) composed of members of the
House Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture and Livestock
Committee was appointed to determine if any changes should be
made to the Texas Agricultural Extension Service (Extension) agency's
focus, functions, organizational structure or staffing plans.
The committee was initiated following the Extension's implementation
of a uniform county equity funding plan, and a request of counties
to contribute $16,000 a year in salary support in order to retain
the base staffing of one agriculture/natural resources agent and
one family/consumer sciences agent.
Public hearings were held on May 15 and August 21, 1996 in Austin,
Texas. Some committee members expressed dissatisfaction with
the Extension in that the legislature was not informed during
the previous budget appropriation cycle of anticipated shortfalls.
Also, there was dissatisfaction that the Extension did not give
the legislature prior notification of its intention to implement
any equity funding plan that would require many counties to contribute
additional funding to the Extension program. Counties were not
given opportunities in devising plans dealing with the shortfall.
In comparison to other employees, county extension agents are
inadequately paid. The county groupings by category funding formula
used in the equity funding plan is inequitable. The committee,
however, did not make any recommendations regarding the above