As waves of change sweep across the nation, farmers and ranchers face a stark reality of growing regulations and higher taxes – both monumental threats to their way of life, the president of Texas Farm Bureau said during his annual address at the organization’s 76th annual convention.
However, sometimes lying side by side with tough problems are opportunities, TFB President Kenneth Dierschke said.
“There’s no doubt about it. We live in interesting times,” Dierschke said. “Sometimes, our choices seem to be dictated by others and our options, on the surface at least, appear to be limited. As Texas farmers and ranchers, we refuse to be boxed in, and limited, by these ‘interesting times.’”
Dierschke addressed the cast of delegates in what he called the “city where the west begins,” referring to Fort Worth’s agricultural heritage and tradition that respects the people of the land.
While noting a year of remarkable achievement for the Texas Farm Bureau, including a partial victory in eminent domain reform, Dierschke shifted to a growing level of concern of possible changes that could spell disaster for the Lone Star State’s agriculture producers.
“The so called ‘Cap and Trade’ or ‘Cap and Tax’ program is a disaster waiting to crush our economy and cripple our standard of living,” Dierschke said. “It is by itself the single largest tax increase in the history of the world. It will add costs to everything we buy or sell with no chance of impacting climate change by even a single degree.”
Farmers and ranchers are watching with growing fear a potential avalanche of new federal regulations that could swamp agricultural producers across America. Regulators and the activists that encourage them have been waiting for eight years to impose punitive regulations, he said. Now, with an administration much friendlier to the idea, it could be about to happen.
On a positive note, current research shows the majority of Americans respect agriculture producers.
“For a public that instinctively trusts you – as a farmer or rancher – who wants to hear your side of the story, the answer is a simple one. We have to tell the story and Texas Farm Bureau has invested in the tools to tell it,” Dierschke said. “But, telling the story is not enough. We must also listen to the concerns of others.”
Farmers and ranchers can’t afford to be left out of the conversation, even though the number of producers continues to dwindle, Dierschke said. It’s important to remind consumers that agriculture is Texas’ first industry. Agriculture brings gifts to fellow Texans in job creation, healthy food, affordable fiber and renewable energy.
“We have to show our best and brightest young people that there is a future on the farm. They have to know that in that place, they will have the chance for a good life to raise a family, pay for college educations and plan for retirement,” Dierschke said. “Without these things, our Texas family farms and ranches are in great peril and the Lone Star State will be less for it.”
“The founding pioneers of Texas Farm Bureau dreamed of an organization of endless possibilities – a future of promise, hope and accomplishment for the rural families of Texas,” he said.