SAN ANTONIO – Russell Boening said farming has been at the forefront of his entire life.
“I grew up on this farm,” Boening said. “We’ve done it our entire lives and we’ve been fortunate. We’ve been successful enough through the tough times to still be here.”
Boening is a farmer in Wilson County. He also serves as the president of the Texas Farm Bureau. He said Proposition 1, which passed in the Texas election Tuesday, protects families and farms like his.
“Prop 1 is giving farmers and ranchers the constitutional protection that we need as we go forward to provide food, fiber and fuel for this state and this country,” Boening said. “We need some protections for agriculture.”
Proposition 1, or HJR 126, proposes a constitutional amendment to protect a person’s right to engage in the generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, horticulture or wildlife management practices. This must happen on property that the person owns or leases.
The amendment would not affect the legislature or state agencies the right to regulate practices if they are deemed unsafe for public health, there is danger to animals or crops, or there is a need to preserve or conserve the natural resources of the state under the Texas Constitution.
Texas already has a right-to-farm statute in the law.
Boening, an advocate for the proposition, said this provides additional support to food security in a state that is quickly growing.
“There’s still going to be protections,” Boening said. “Prop 1 protects that right in the future that we’ll be able to feed ourselves and be able to take care of our consumers.”
But not everyone is in support of this proposition.
Judith McGeary, executive director for Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, said her group takes concern in the protection of small farms through this proposition.
“It takes what is a real problem, which is overregulation of small farms on without very good reasons and uses it to create a really blank check so that cities and communities cannot address some very real problems that occur with the mega operations,” McGeary said.
The alliance is a national organization based in Texas that bolsters support for independent farms.
“There are already situations happening where neighbors, including small farmer neighbors, are being harmed by large operations, manure, lagoons or overuse of toxic chemicals,” McGeary said. “It prevents community and even our state legislature from addressing these issues down the line.”
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