Agriculture has always been and will continue to be a vital part of the Texas economic fabric. Today, ag has an annual economic impact of over $100 billion and employs over 600,000 Texans, many of whom are individual or family farmers. While agriculture is certainly a bright spot for the Texas economy, we must continue to support the families that provide the food and fiber on which we all depend.
Steps we should take to ensure Texas farmers can thrive:
- Maintain and strengthen the farmer safety net. Congress should strengthen federal crop insurance programs for Texas farmers who are being squeezed by rising production costs. The safety net should account for all farmers, including cotton, corn, sorghum, pecans, peanuts, and others.
- Provide robust rural infrastructure for Texas farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to provide more economic opportunity. Underinvestment in rural infrastructure puts Texas ag at a competitive disadvantage. Rural areas desperately need investments in broadband, upgrades to water and road systems, and modernized schools. Government should be a partner for these communities in spurring rural economic development.
- Ensure farmers don’t have to face unnecessary labor shortfalls that undermine productivity. Immigration reform can help address these issues by more effectively linking migrant laborers with farmers and by protecting undocumented workers. We should treat these individuals with dignity and respect because they are a critical component of our agriculture communities.
- Avoid unnecessary trade wars and ensure foreign markets are open to U.S. agriculture exports. Current proposals for tariffs create tremendous uncertainty for Texas farmers. Trade wars rattle commodity markets and force farmers to scramble using limited information. Texas agriculture – and especially family farmers – depend on stable markets. We should be working to enhance stability and transparency.
- Protect the environment so farm families can continue to produce for generations to come. Environmentally sustainable farming can help preserve Texas lands for the future. However, serving as stewards of the environment should make clear economic sense. Federal policy can elevate best practices and empower farmers to adopt innovative farming techniques.