Friday, July 27, 2012

Death Tax is Killing Texas Farms

Taxes should be as low as possible and fair to all parties. Being taxed twice is incomprehensible, but that is exactly what the estate tax does − tax families twice for simply passing along their property to the next generation. When something does more harm than good, it’s absolutely time to make it stop. Such is the case with the federal estate tax – a tax that more commonly, and accurately, is referred to as the “death tax.”

According to a new study titled “Cost & Consequences of the Federal Estate Tax,” the death tax has been backfiring for nearly a century. Intended – albeit questionably − to prevent the monopolization of wealth, the tax has proved to be archaic, misguided and downright unfair. Even worse, it is killing family farms and other entrepreneurial endeavors by burdening the heirs of the deceased with tax bills that often force them to downsize, sell or shutter their operations. Why penalize success and discourage the American dream? Why turn away other taxes paid in the form of input costs?

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas has been vigorously advocating a repeal of the death tax for quite some time, and I couldn’t agree with him more. Taxing farm families out of business jeopardizes our nation’s food, fiber and timber supply. At a time when fewer Americans are entering into agriculture, the death tax needs to go. We’re already dependent on foreign oil; we cannot become dependent on foreign food.

To read Rep. Brady’s press release advocating death tax repeal, go here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fire The Ones Responsible

I’m in full agreement with America’s beef and dairy industries as they call bull on USDA. In an online newsletter to its employees, USDA had the audacity to encourage people to go green by promoting “Meatless Monday” as a means of preventing climate change. Talk about a slap in the face!
Last I checked, USDA had a very specific duty to promote and champion American agriculture. Imagine Ford or Chevy discouraging the purchase of their pickup trucks. Anyone else see the absurdity? How about the betrayal?

In response to USDA’s outlandish and extremist views, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas challenged Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to justify these appalling endorsements. USDA responded by backpedalling and claiming the offending comments slipped through the cracks without proper clearance. The agency went on to say it did not endorse “Meatless Monday.” Thanks, but no thanks.

Perhaps the best apology would be to fire the person or persons responsible for distributing these treasonous comments. Why should our hardworking beef producers be paying the uninformed enemy’s salary? Without delay, the responsible parties have got to go.

At a time when historical droughts are threatening the livelihoods of our beef producers and diminishing our food supply, the last thing we need is a USDA that adds insult to injury. Shame on you, USDA. You deserve all the bull you get.

Texas Leaders Tackle the Reality of Border Security Issues

Securing the Texas border is an important and complex issue, but it’s not going away or getting any better by pretending it doesn’t exist. In Washington D.C. last week, I was encouraged as I met with Sen. John McCain from Arizona and some of Texas’ top leaders to discuss solutions for solving a problem our federal government would rather file under Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

Here in Texas, 1,200 miles of shared border with Mexico is front and center. That shared border is also a crossing point for the legal trade that creates countless jobs for both countries. Unfortunately, this thriving economic activity is disrupted daily by the harsh reality of cartel violence, human trafficking, drug smuggling and illegal immigration. Our historic partnership is endangered by a porous border that threatens a dynamic economic engine benefitting all of America. The drain on the American economy stemming from drugs, violence, loss of jobs, unpaid health care costs and social programs impacts each and every one of us whether we recognize it or not.

False claims of security do little to soothe the loss of life and disruption of everyday living. The influx of seedy criminals and the flow of undocumented workers and illegal immigrants is a weakness in America that imperils our citizens, livelihoods and economy. Curtailing illegal entry and punishing evildoers should not be debated; it must be accomplished. And it can be done in partnership with Mexico – without alienating our good neighbors to the south. Here at home, we need to stop making a secure border such a wedge issue. Instead, we should rally together to develop a winning solution.

We must secure our borders and reform our broken immigration system to allow for a legal workforce and legal trade. To ignore the current crisis we are facing or take a lax stance toward it is an affront to all those who worked hard to be here within the law. It’s also an egregious affront to our constitutional sovereignty. I look forward to working with Sen. McCain, our Texas delegation and others to enact new policy solutions.

Not taking part in the process to find answers is as bad as being part of the problem. Thankfully, there are willing and able leaders who would rather face this challenge head-on than hide from it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Go Out. Go Eat. GO TEXAN During Restaurant Round-Up

The annual GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up is underway this week giving all of us the opportunity to support Texas farmers, ranchers, seafood producers, breweries, winemakers and chefs as they showcase local food and beverages. Round-Up, sponsored by Farm Credit and supported by the Texas Watermelon Association, runs July 23-29. This is the only weeklong event in the entire state of Texas that celebrates Texas restaurants and their efforts to bring Texas food to all of us.

Along with promoting the local food movement, the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up also contributes to local area food banks. This year, more than 400 participating Round-Up restaurants have pledged to donate about $40,000 to local food banks to help provide thousands of meals for hungry Texans.

Make a date this week with your families and co-workers to go out, go eat and GO TEXAN — because helping a good cause never tasted so good. To find a location near you check out

Friday, July 20, 2012

SeaWorld Partners with Texas Water Smart

Despite recent rains, Texas continues to battle an ongoing water crisis, which is why I was pleased to visit San Antonio this week to welcome SeaWorld San Antonio into the growing Texas Water Smart coalition.

SeaWorld is more than a fun place to take your family, it is also a great example of how businesses can implement conservation strategies to save millions of gallons of water. While known for water-based marine life and other water attractions, SeaWorld has made water conservation a top priority. In doing so, the water park received the San Antonio Water System’s Water Saving Pioneer Award in 2008 for its efforts to save 30 million gallons of water a year.

While that kind of savings is impressive and greatly appreciated, Texas Water Smart reminds all Texans that any water saved, when multiplied by 26 million citizens, will go a long way toward protecting our drinking water and saving jobs.

Look around your home or business and repair leaky faucets, limit shower times and only water your lawns and gardens in the morning or at night. These simple steps can make great strides toward protecting the future of Texas.

To find more everyday, common-sense tips for curbing wasteful water usage around your home and business, visit And remember this important concept: practicing water conservation is not a restriction, it is an opportunity. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Texas Ranks No. 1 for Business (Again)

Texas means business year after year, according to CNBC’s sixth annual survey. Naming Texas America’s Top State for Business 2012, CNBC reports the Lone Star State has never dipped below No. 2 since the survey began in 2007. This year marks the third time Texas has claimed the No. 1 spot.

Using input from business groups as well as public and state information, CNBC scored each of the 50 states on a range of categories, including workforce, economy, technology and cost of living, among others. As Texans, we’ve appreciated these favorable attributes for years and have come to realize that, along with our state’s pristine beauty, rich culture and can-do spirit, they are the keys to making the Lone Star State the best place in the nation to live, work and raise a family.

The ongoing economic downturn has been tough on all Americans, even Texans. While we’re not without our challenges, it is our ability to create jobs, fend off burdensome regulations and keep taxes fair and unemployment low that has made Texas the bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic forecast.

In other words, life is good in Texas. And, as always, so is business. To read the full CNBC go here

Friday, July 13, 2012

Texas: Where the Beef Is!

Cargill announced yesterday it is increasing its Texas presence with the acquisition of a Fort Worth beef facility that employs 250 people. This is welcome news for many reasons, not the least of which is the jobs that were saved by Cargill stepping in as the previous owner faced bankruptcy.

As the leading beef cattle state in the nation, Texas is proud to continue its ever-expanding partnership with Cargill. This partnership will ensure Texas ranchers continue providing essential protein for American consumers as well as those around the world who increasingly demand quality Texas beef.

The Lone Star State is poised for continued growth and Texas agriculture continues to do its part to ensure the table is set with tasty products.

For more information on Cargill’s acquisition, go here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independence is Also a Personal Responsibility

As Americans across our nation and those serving overseas celebrate Independence Day on the  236th birthday of our beloved country, we certainly have much to be thankful for in regard to basic freedoms and liberties. Other countries such as Syria and Libya are all struggling today just to find their basic form of governance, and people suffer unnecessarily as a result.

Americans, while proud of our heritage and sacrifices that made us the envy of the world, are also expressing concern about the overall course and direction of our nation. While we celebrate our independence, guardians of freedom are greatly concerned about our growing dependence on government and lack of individual responsibility for our own actions and future.

Consider these sobering statistics: Our national debt of $15.8 trillion exceeds our entire gross domestic product; half of all households pay no income tax; Congress has not passed a budget in three years; and food stamp recipients have grown from 23.8 million to 46.1 million in the last eight years while government spending for this program has doubled from $37.6 billion in 2008 to $75.7 billion in 2011.

Americans are caring people. We have also traditionally been good stewards of resources, which is why we have experienced tremendous growth and success over the previous 200 years. True charity comes from the heart, not from government coffers. Is charity now being redefined by how much the government takes from some so it can give to others?

As we celebrate independence with our families, maybe we all should spend a little time reassessing what independence really means. Perhaps one of our former presidents said it best:

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed − else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”
 − Dwight D. Eisenhower

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Smartphone App Helps Texans Conserve Energy, Protect Jobs, Businesses

With communities around the state hitting triple digit temperatures, we are hitting the peak season for energy usage. Low-cost, reliable energy is a key ingredient to job growth and doing business, but adverse rulings by overbearing federal regulators, along with disincentives to build more capacity, are leaving Texans vulnerable to rolling blackouts.

Last year, some Texans had to deal to with power outages due to large amounts of energy being consumed on a daily basis accompanied by an inadequate amount of available energy during extreme conditions. In an effort to ease the possibility of repeated threats to our electrical grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has created a free mobile smartphone app that will help Texas electricity users more easily conserve energy and stay abreast of energy demand across the majority of the state. When there is high electricity demand and need for conservation, the application will send users energy-saving tips and energy emergency alerts.

Conservation makes good sense in both the private and business community. Thanks to ERCOT’s smartphone app, Texas has a new tool for conserving energy when grid conditions are strained. Together, our conservation efforts will contribute to the vitality of our Texas economy.

To download the free ERCOT Energy Saver app on your iPhone or Android device click here or find it by typing “ERCOT” into the search bar of Apple and Google app stores.