Planting Season: Texas Farmers Ready for Biden Era

President Biden is already off on the wrong foot with the Texas energy industry, after signing executive orders halting construction on the Keystone XL pipeline and placing a moratorium on all new oil and gas leases on federal lands. The Texas agriculture industry is watching carefully, and hoping they aren't the next target of the new president's pen. "We understand that this administration is going to look at things differently than the previous administration, and that raises some concerns for us," says Russell Boening, president of the Texas Farm Bureau. "But, we're taking the approach that we believe we can be part of the solution, and not necessarily part of the problem."

Boening tells KTRH he expects environmental policy and trade will be two of the key issues facing the Texas agriculture industry over the next few years. Whatever happens will have a direct impact far beyond the farms and ranches of rural Texas. "We always say that if you eat, you are involved in agriculture," he says. "So everything that affects us down the line will affect the consumers in the urban areas as well." He specifically points to last year's COVID-19 problems at meat packing plants as an example of the impact of agriculture issues on everyone.

One encouraging sign for Boening and the industry is incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who previously served in the same role during the Obama administration. "We've worked with (Vilsack) before, and I think there's a lot of positives," says Boening. "He knows the importance of trade and exports to our industry, whether it's dairy or any of our other commodities. So I think overall we're looking forward to working with him."

Ultimately, Texas farmers are hoping for more cooperation from the new administration, and fewer unilateral executive actions. "We just want a seat at the table, so to speak," says Boening. "Like they say, you want a seat at the table so that you're not on the menu."

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