Monday, May 30, 2011

Thanks to Our Soldiers on Memorial Day

As Americans blessed with freedom and liberty, we owe an eternal debt of gratitude to our men and women in the military. Their daily sacrifices make it possible for us to practice our faith, vote for our leaders of choice and raise our children in peace.

On Memorial Day, we honor those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. From our nation’s earliest battles for freedom and independence to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. soldiers who died fighting for democracy deserve our eternal gratitude. They are gone, but their memories, their families and the freedom they defended must never be forgotten.

While many of us look forward to gathering with family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to enjoy your leisure with heartfelt thanks. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and be thankful for your freedom. May God bless our soldiers. May God bless Texas and may God bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let’s Help Our Firefighters

When wildfires cause us to evacuate and move to safety, our volunteer firefighters answer the call to protect our lives and property. Now is the time for us to return the favor and assist our dedicated first responders. Today I joined members of the legislature to announce the Texas Firefighters Relief Fund.

This new fund will help properly equip our brave volunteer firefighters as they battle some of the worst wildfires to ever ravage Texas. We need to give back to those who put their lives on the line to shield us from harm. Helping our volunteer firefighters is critically important right now because the federal government has refused to grant our state a Major Disaster Declaration. You can see a portion of the press conference below and click here to make a donation.

Monday, May 23, 2011

SB 18 is Now the Law of the Land

Today I had the great honor of joining Governor Rick Perry and participating in the signing ceremony to enact into law an eminent domain bill that protects private property owners from having their land unjustly taken for public use.

In Texas, our land is our legacy. Today’s signing of SB 18 ensures intense scrutiny and fair compensation to land owners when eminent domain is used.

This law was a long time coming and I’d like to thank Sen. Craig Estes, Sen. Robert Duncan, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Rene Oliveira and Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt for their diligent support in upholding what the Texas Constitution guarantees -- that private property owners will not be subjected to intrusive condemnation proceedings.

Don’t mess with Texas, and don’t mess with Texas land. It’s more than a slogan; it’s the law.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Drought on the Heels of Wildfires Adds to Texas Losses

While Texas wildfires have made for gloomy headlines this year, they tell only part of the grim story facing our state. With 2.6 million acres impacted by fires since November, we now also are looking at the dire possibility of record-breaking, single-year losses due to drought. According to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service report highlighted in this AP story, agricultural losses in Texas this year already total $1.5 billion. As the story mentions, if dry conditions persist into summer, we could surpass the 2006 record of $4.1 billion in losses. To read the full story, click here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Removing Trade Barriers Can Help Meet Worldwide Demand

Watching worldwide demand for beef is always important for the No. 1 cattle-producing state in the nation, which is why this article from Drovers CattleNetwork caught my eye.

When consumers around the globe have the opportunity to experience Texas and U.S. beef, they usually want more. I just hope our trade negotiators can eliminate the potential trade barrier to the European Union discussed in the article. If they succeed, our producers can benefit fully from demand that is likely to grow.

Texas is blessed to produce enough beef to help feed our state and nation. Let’s hope we also gain greater opportunity to meet worldwide demand. Doing so means more jobs and more opportunity, right here in the Lone Star State.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Dairy Center Continues A&M Tradition of Education, Research

Recently, I was honored to attend the grand opening of Tarleton State University’s new $11.2 million Southwest Regional Dairy Center in Stephenville. As a member of the Texas A&M University System, Tarleton State University’s new dairy center will serve as a hub of learning and research for students and industry leaders that continue to grow the great tradition of agricultural education known throughout the system. This new state-of-the-art education and research facility will play a key role in developing solutions for the dairy industry’s sustainability in Texas and the nation.

I’m extremely proud of the new dairy center, but the people who should be the proudest are the American consumers who continue to enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world thanks to those involved in agriculture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Border INsecurity is No Laughing Matter!

It’s appalling to hear the president crack jokes about our southern border when the violent drug cartel members are terrorizing innocent American citizens.

As pointed out in this AP story, at one point during his speech, the president scoffed at those who do not think the government is doing enough to protect our borders, smugly pointing out the border fence and saying, “they’ll never be satisfied” and “maybe they’ll need a moat.” I know for a fact he would have been singing a different tune had he been riding next to the south Texas rancher whose truck was riddled by bullets, or standing next to the crew who got chased off their land while harvesting sugar cane, or working alongside the oil field workers who were beaten (and taken to an emergency room by ambulance) by a group of men who fled south across the border.

Mr. President, why are you laughing at the harm being done to American citizens? Why is a federal border patrol agent who was killed in a firefight with drug cartel members in Arizona in December of last year a reason to make light of the desperate situation our rural landowners are facing? Why do you and your administration ignore, make light and deny the testimonials of the men and women who have come forward with the horror stories? Need proof these tragedies are real? Go to

While the president may have made these insensitive jokes today in the “safest” city in America, let’s keep in mind this is the same city that benefits from a large border patrol and federal presence, yet whose hospital recently asked for its own police force due to the unprecedented crime spilling over from Mexico.

Jokes are not going to help our citizens, we need action. The President must put more boots on the border by deploying additional troops, bring in further surveillance technology and supply our local law enforcement with extra resources.

Mr. President, we need your help; not your failed attempts at humor.

Austin Hosts Texas Food Safety Conference

Food safety is a critical issue for all of us, which is why I’m glad to be a part of the Texas Food Safety Conference in Austin, May 10-11.

Hosted by the state’s leading produce associations, farmers, regulators and experts, the conference will focus on enhancing produce safety and finding ways to identify and prevent foodborne illnesses before they become public health concerns.

Farmers, ranchers and others in the agriculture industry are often our first line of defense in the prevention of illnesses and food recalls. Events like the Texas Food Safety Conference can add another layer of consumer protection while ensuring we all continue to enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.

For more information on the Texas Food Safety Conference, click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

As Wildfire Losses Top $20M, FEMA Denies Assistance to Help Texans Recover

As Texas wildfires continue destroying the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers and neighboring citizens – and jeopardizing the food supply of every Texan and American alike – the costs of recovery are mounting. But instead of helping to the extent we need, Washington is pouring proverbial fuel on the flames.

According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas wildfires in April caused approximately $20.4 million in damages and counting. While most people are quick to imagine homes, barns and farmland among the losses, other equally devastating damages come in the form of destroyed fencing, dead livestock and the complete loss of current and future grazing acreage.

As the AgriLife Extension Service points out, fencing is one of the most critical and costly agricultural expenses, averaging about $10,000 per mile to build, with the cost increasing depending on the terrain. With approximately 1,200 miles of fencing destroyed, the math gets downright daunting.

To date, the AgriLife Extension Service says more than 2 million acres have burned in Texas and more than 500 cattle, horses and sheep have been killed. Add the losses of structures, farm equipment and other supplies, and then multiply it by the damage and deaths that are not yet tallied, and you get a pretty grim picture of the road ahead.

Yet, FEMA recently formally refused to declare this devastation a major disaster, which now means Texans who have suffered these losses will not receive some of the federal assistance they severely need right now although they have willingly paid for it with their tax dollars when disaster struck other regions of the country. It’s important to remember if these families are not able to recover, and indeed go out of business, the daily food and fiber needs of every Texan and American stand to be jeopardized.

Our citizens send their hard-earned money to the federal government to fund agencies like FEMA that are responsible for helping Americans recover from disasters. Now, when we need it most, FEMA denies its full assistance. It is unconscionable our federal government would reject a plea from hard-working citizens in their most desperate time of need.

Let’s help our farmers and ranchers rebuild so they can continue to provide for our families and theirs. Please donate to the State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund, or STAR Fund, by visiting

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Thanks to Moms on Mothers Day

I am glad God allowed women to be mothers and not men, otherwise, the human race might have been over with before it got started. I just cannot imagine how a mother can do all she does.

Whether you are a full-time work at home mother or full-time work at home and work at a job mother, thank you for all you do. A day to honor you for your efforts just isn't enough. A mother doesn't just bring a person into this world, a good mother walks you through this life. A mother seems to give up so much for her children yet you never know it because mothers have the unique gift to keep you focused on what all children need to be focused on. Mothers may vary in approach and style on how they rear their children, but nothing comes close to the special bond between a mother and her child.

To all the mothers, may God bless you. We all thank you for being Mom.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Don’t Mess with Texas and Don’t Mess with Texas Land

Private property owners are celebrating in Texas today after the Legislature passed Senate Bill 18, the eminent domain reform bill. The bill is now on its way to Governor Perry’s desk for signature.

SB 18 is authored in the Senate by Sen. Craig Estes (Wichita Falls) and Sen. Robert Duncan (Lubbock) and sponsored in the House by Rep. Charlie Geren (River Oaks), Rep. Rene Oliveira (Brownsville) and Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt (Lexington). It enforces what the Texas Constitution guarantees – that private property owners will be protected from intrusive condemnation proceedings. Among other things, the bill says property may only be taken for a public use and that negotiations must be made in good faith, meaning a condemning entity cannot try to shortchange property owners in offering just compensation. SB 18 also includes a buy-back provision for property owners – if land is taken for a public use but progress is not made on the project within 10 years, the property owner can repurchase the property. It also requires all entities with the power of eminent domain to register with the state or risk having that power suspended.

I have long been a proponent of legislation that guarantees Texas private property owners are treated fairly and that entities with eminent domain power act responsibly. After years of setbacks, Texans will finally have their private property owners’ rights affirmed once SB 18 is signed into law.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Don’t mess with Texas, and don’t mess with Texas land!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Demise of bin Laden Strengthens a Promising Partnership

The recent news of Osama bin Laden’s demise was especially poignant today as I met with a delegation of Afghan officials at Camp Mabry. The timing of the two events was purely coincidental, but its relevance underscores the importance of this meeting designed to bring renewed promise and hope for Afghanistan.

Since 2007, Texas Army National Guard soldiers have worked with Afghan farmers through a partnership called Agribusiness Development Teams. The teams are dedicated to sharing agricultural expertise with their Afghan counterparts in an effort to help the war-ravaged nation rebuild and sustain itself through proven farming and ranching methods. The teams were developed through the cooperation of the U.S. Central Command, the Afghan government and the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M.

For years, the people of Afghanistan have struggled to feed themselves through an efficient agriculture industry due to the violent interruptions of war and terrorism. With bin Laden now permanently removed, the people of Afghanistan have more potential than ever for rebuilding their nation and especially the agriculture industry that is the cornerstone for any prosperous society.

First and foremost I’d like to thank the brave men and women in our armed forces who helped bring bin Laden to justice. Additionally, I’m grateful to the Texas Army National Guard and our friends from Afghanistan for working toward this noble goal of loosening the grip of terror and improving global relations.

To view my remarks from today’s event at Camp Mabry, click here.