Interesting may actually be an understatement, but I’m not quite sure how else to describe it.
Tuesday brought the first presidential debate, which largely dominated the week’s political news. Many of the political pundits have largely characterized the debate as a train wreck, but whatever your thoughts on the candidates or the debate itself, almost all analysis suggests that it did little to sway opinion in favor of one candidate or the other.
Of course, news coverage has now taken a dramatic turn since the president and first lady were diagnosed with COVID-19 early this morning. The diagnosis could have wide-ranging ramifications on the presidential campaign, but we’ll have to see how the situation plays out in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers will be with the president and first lady for a quick recovery.
Closer to home, the Austin political scene was buzzing yesterday after it was revealed that Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller would appear in Sasha Baron Cohen’s new Borat movie. Miller, who appears at the end of the movie’s trailer, says he was an unwitting participant. I won’t dignify it with a link, but you can find the trailer online if you’re so inclined. Be warned, many will find it distasteful.
And now back to real news…
The last several weeks have seen a flurry of legislation filed in Washington. The new bills aim to address a wide range of issues. Notable among them are:
- The Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), aims to reform ESA through improving state and local partnerships, supporting voluntary conservation efforts and preserving the delisting process.
- The Cattle Market Transparency Act, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), seeks to improve price discovery for cow-calf producers through a variety of mechanisms.
- The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), would add a 150 air-mile exemption to HOS regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities.
- The Price Reform in Cattle Economics (PRICE) Act, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), includes proposals to open new markets for state-inspected beef products and new provisions to aid producer-owned beef processing facilities and increase transparency in fed cattle transactions.
Keep in mind Washington will be focused on both the upcoming election and the confirmation of a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice. That means it’s unlikely that any of these bills will see progress before the current Congress ends on Jan. 3, 2021. They will have to be refilled once the new Congress convenes next year.
Back home, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission met last week to hear invited testimony from the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Keep an eye out for the November issue of The Cattleman magazine for more on that process but rest assured TSCRA is very involved in the process to ensure Texas cattle producers are not adversely impacted in any way.
Finally, TSCRA is proud to announce that out of 600 applicants, three of our members were selected to serve as Regional Flood Planning Group Members. Claudia Scott Wright will serve as the agricultural interest for the Lower Brazos, James (Bill) Bruce will serve in the same capacity for the Sabine River and J.R. Ramirez will represent his water district for the Nueces. The Regional Flood Planning Groups will develop the strategies to be used by the Texas Water Development Board in creating Texas’ flood plans. The first regional flood plans are due out by January 2023.
I think that’s all for this week but stay tuned for more in the near future!
Until next time.
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of public affairs for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.