The race is on for the next Ag Commissioner in Texas, and one of our own is running. Vote today and let’s get him on the ballot for March 4! Among other duties, the Commissioner of Agriculture is responsible for regulating pesticide use and application; certifying organically produced products; and facilitating trade and market development of agricultural commodities. From the League of Women Voters’ 2014 Primary Voting Guide, here are his responses to the issues impacting Texas agriculture:
What is your opinion of federal regulations of water and the environment? What would you do to balance the use of existing resources with environmental concerns?
“My feeling is that in most cases federal regulations need to be followed as they pertain to water and the environment. I would require that producers use natural resources responsibly. We only have one environment and we need to do everything possible to protect it. The determining factor is how will our agricultural production decisions affect the next generation.”
Agricultural use of water must be considered along with industrial and municipal use. How would you encourage further conservation of water in agricultural use?
“Drip irrigation. Growing crops that are less water intensive. Raising grass fed livestock and utilizing rotational grazing. Rainwater harvesting. Establishing aquifer recharge zones and underground storage facilities that reduce evaporation. Covering irrigation ditches.”
What do you consider the most important functions of this position?
“Safeguarding our water, air, and land so we produce healthy food and fiber for Texans. As the chief law enforcement officer for the TDA, the commissioner is responsible for making sure we emphasize policies that regulate fairly while maximizing production. We need to set a tone that emphasizes more organic and grass fed production for local markets.”
What other issues do you consider the most important, and how would you address them?
“Water conservation through use of advanced technology. Supporting organic and sustainably raised livestock and crops that then become part of the diet of our citizens. Obesity and the diabetes epidemic are also at the top of my list. More Texas grown fruit, nuts, produce, and grass fed meats for school children.”