Texas Farmers Promise D.C. Fight for Land, Water

AP Photo/Bill Waugh

The president of the Texas Farm Bureau warned ranchers and farmers at the 83rd annual meeting that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule for waters in the U.S., “if it’s allowed to happen, will hamstring many farmers and ranchers to the extent that it might not even be possible to farm.” Farmers and ranchers in Texas are struggling with government bureaucracy in many areas.

TFB President Russell Boening called the EPA’s new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule one of Washington’s “worst ideas.” Boening said the regulation “will subject many of our members to arbitrary and unworkable rules.” Those who oppose the rule are saying it is a compliance nightmare.

The TFB says that they are hopeful that President-Elect Donald Trump will work to limit regulations and the EPA’s reach.

The president of Texas’ largest farm organization said Sunday that there would be many opportunities to work on agricultural issues with the incoming Trump administration.

The president of the Lone Star State’s largest farm organization gave his address on Sunday to the voting delegates in attendance, around 1,000 in number. President Boening’s address to TFB convention-goers was that agriculture is united in efforts to fight for the issues that are trying farmers and ranchers.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, Texas farmers and ranchers are at their annual meeting December 3-5 to vote on state and national resolutions that will address challenges in agriculture and rural Texas. One of those challenges is the EPA’s proposed WOTUS rule and losing farm and ranch land through eminent domain takings, among other issues.

The Farm Bureau president said that eminent domain reform will be a “top priority” during the 85th Legislature in Texas.

He also told delegates that farmers are struggling with an aggressive United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Farmers on the Texas side of the Red River, with titles to their land for generations, are having to fight for their property. The BLM contends the lands are fair game because they are federal. The issue is being battled in the judicial system right now.

TFB President Boening told delegates that he thought there would be many opportunities to work with the incoming Trump administration on agricultural issues. He said a more sympathetic administration could put the matter before Congress again.

Boening said the BLM took the property of one Farm Bureau member and gave it back in 2015. The BLM had the land for 31 years but never used it.

“It became kind of a jurisdictional ‘no man’s land’ that no local government wanted anything to do with,” Boening said. “Is that their vision for this 116-mile stretch along the Red River?”

Breitbart Texas has been reporting on the BLM and Tommy Henderson, whose 140 acres of land were seized by the BLM in 1984. His family owned the tracts since 1904 and the federal government did not pay him a cent.

Breitbart Texas brought national attention to the landgrab in April 2014 when the BLM was holding planning meetings on the land along the Red River they claimed belonged to the federal government.

Then Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson, State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) tried to get the BLM to release the land. Then Governor Rick Perry weighed in on the issue in May 2014 when he said the “the federal government already owns too much land.”

A federal court decision in 1984 stripped Henderson of ownership to a portion of his land located along the Red River in Texas. The Red River is Texas’ northern border with Oklahoma. Some of that land was given to the BLM and a small section was awarded to an Oklahoma man who brought the lawsuit. The Oklahoma rancher was attempting to claim land because of boundary changes due to erosion and evulsion.

In April 2014, Breitbart Texas reported that after the Bundy Ranch episode with the BLM, Texans were becoming more concerned about the BLM’s focus on 90,000 acres along a 116 mile stretch of the Texas/Oklahoma boundary.

Congressman Mac Thornberry, who represents the ranchers in this region of far north Texas, has said the issue of ownership dates back to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. When the BLM made the claim on Henderson’s property, its position was that Texas never had the authority to deed the land to private parties and would default to federal authorities.

Breitbart Texas also reported when Henderson got his land back from the BLM in late July 2015. The parties signed the patent and Henderson paid the statutorily-required payment $1.25 per acre. “It has been a long time coming,” Henderson told Breitbart Texas. “The BLM brought me the patent and said this was the right thing to do, finally.”

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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