A landowners’ interest in the water under his land is a vested interest that gives him a constitutionally protected right to drill and produce groundwater, delegates said at Texas Farm Bureau’s 77th annual meeting in Waco.
With the Lone Star State’s booming population and growing demands on resources, water will take center stage as the Legislature convenes in January. Voting delegates from 147 county Farm Bureaus prepared the state’s largest farm organization’s policy for the upcoming legislative session.
Delegates recognized, however, that water is a finite resource and will require some regulation to protect local supplies. They suggested ownership interest in and the vested right to produce groundwater “may be regulated in a reasonable manner to protect the groundwater resources of the area,” the new TFB policy continued. “We do not believe the ownership interest in groundwater gives the landowner a vested right to a specific quantity of groundwater under their land.”
Delegates also elected Kenneth Dierschke to his ninth consecutive one-year term as president of Texas Farm Bureau.
“It has been a great honor to represent you for the last eight years,” Dierschke said at convention’s end. “Together we can overcome challenges and create opportunities for the farm, ranch and rural families of Texas.”
Commodity indemnity program
In other matters, delegates addressed a potential disaster for Texas grain farmers. They suggested that a statewide producer-funded commodity indemnity program be established to protect producers and ensure full payment is received for their commodities when a grain storage facility closes because of financial problems.
“There’s no protection for farmers and ranchers who hold grain in elevators,” one advocate for the resolution said.
Delegates also voted to strengthen the Texas Department of Agriculture’s regulatory authority to audit and inspect storage facilities and records, and suggested the bonding amount required for storage facilities should be increased.
On the national level, delegates affirmed that enforcement of all immigration laws and border security is the responsibility of the federal government, adding that a state’s right to pass and enforce laws to secure their borders and protect their citizens must be respected by the federal government.
State resolutions will provide a roadmap for the Texas Farm Bureau to follow in pursuing legislative and regulatory actions in 2011. National resolutions will be forwarded for consideration at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention to be held in January in Atlanta, Ga.
In other state policy, delegates:
- Supported state legislation that would require proper notice be given when legislation is filed that could grant eminent domain powers.
- Opposed legislation regulating or taxing “dust” in any open air agricultural operation.
- Supported state funding for any research or program—including the use of a bounty—to control feral hogs.
- Opposed shifting maintenance of farm to market roads from the state to counties.
At convention's end, the TFB board of directors re-elected Dewey Hukill of Lamb County as vice president. Billy Bob Brown of Carson County was elected as secretary-treasurer.