After two months of working almost nonstop on COVID-19 and related issues, the variety of topics and issues we’re working on seems to be normalizing. Many of the coronavirus issues, especially the market response, are still front and center and will be for the foreseeable future. However, many of the usual suspects are also coming back around. In the last week, significant conversations with lawmakers, stakeholders and staff have taken place on eminent domain, federal lands, agricultural labor, trade, high-speed rail, primary runoff elections, state agency sunset, and preparation for the 2021 Texas Legislative Session.
On Monday, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association joined with almost 50 other livestock organizations across the country to oppose the Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422). The legislation would provide much-needed funding for the maintenance of federal lands but, unfortunately, would also mandate almost $1 billion in spending for the government to acquire new property. New acquisitions would limit and complicate cattle production on those lands and be irresponsible, given the lack of ability to maintain existing lands. You can check out the full letter here.
Political campaigns are also resuming, especially for those facing primary runoff elections. This year, those runoffs will take place on July 14, with early voting from June 29 to July 10. The runoff election is only for primary races where no candidate exceeded 50% of the vote, but there were more than 30 of those statewide. If you’re not yet registered to vote, you have until Monday to do so. Also, stay tuned for more from the TSCRA PAC as the election draws closer.
Trade was back in the news as well, as negotiations between the U.S. and the United Kingdom continue on a free trade agreement. Unfortunately, officials in the U.K. are continuing to push harsh restrictions on U.S. beef, similar to that of the European Union. We are continuing to monitor that process closely and will keep you informed.
As the 2021 Texas Legislative Session draws closer, things are also ratcheting up here in Texas. Late last week, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission released new staff reports on two important agencies undergoing sunset in the upcoming legislative session. Reviews are staggered, but in general, every state agency must go through a sunset review every 12 years to ensure the agency is still relevant and performing adequately. This session, numerous agencies important to cattle producers are up for review, including:
- Texas Department of Agriculture
- Texas Animal Health Commission
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Brazos River Authority
- San Jacinto River Authority
TSCRA staff are closely monitoring the process to ensure essential functions at these agencies continue and that any changes do not harm cattle producers. You can find more about the process at the commission website.
We will have more to share on a lot of these topics soon, but that’s all for now.
Until next time!
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of public affairs for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.