Guest Blogger: Drew DeBerry, Deputy Agriculture Commissioner
On behalf of Commissioner Todd Staples this week, I am proud to be in Salt Lake City representing Texas at the annual National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) meeting.
Each year, NASDA brings together the heads of our nation’s agricultural agencies to present priorities important to their respective communities. Those priorities are then presented as action items with the intent of working collectively to bolster the nation’s agriculture industry.
This year, Commissioner Staples brought action items on the the following four initiatives to the table on behalf of Texas agriculture: jobs and the economy; hay assistance; endangered species reform; and border security. These four resolutions were unanimously supported today by members of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA), and will now be considered by various committees within NASDA and voted on by all states on Monday.
Texas is fighting through the one of the worst droughts on record with agricultural losses already reaching $5.2 billion. The extreme heat has also fueled wildfires that have scorched more than 3 million acres, exacerbating the need to expedite hay delivery to those in need, which is why I’m pleased to see Commissioner Staples’ hay assistance resolution moving forward.
Also of great concern to Texans is the increasing violence against our citizens and agricultural producers at the hands of Mexican drug cartels. At NASDA, we introduced a resolution focused on securing our border, ending illegal immigration and urging a reform of labor programs to provide a documented and reliable workforce.
Another initiative that won support aims to strengthen our economy through passage of pending free trade agreements and stabilization of the uncertain regulatory environment that stands in the way of job creation.
Finally, Texas remains committed to striking a balance between conservation and the rights of private property owners. SASDA members enthusiastically joined Texas in proposing a comprehensive overhaul to the sprawling Endangered Species Act - to bring sound science guidelines to the table.
Besides being a forum for the advancement of agriculture, NASDA also reminds me how blessed we all are to have leaders throughout our country working collaboratively to strengthen agriculture for the benefit of all Americans.