January 9, 2019
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson
(TDA) As an eighth-generation farmer and rancher I know that variety in crop production is essential for Texas agricultural producers.
Cotton is King in Texas, but unfortunately the past couple of years have taken a heavy toll on cotton production. Farmers and ranchers who have been faced with hard times have had to seek other means.
But there is an alternative crop that has the potential to give our Ag economy a boost and give our farmers another option to help their businesses and families survive: Hemp.
Hemp gives farmers and ranchers the opportunity to thrive when other commodities suffer. It’s a chance for Texas Ag producers to put something in the ground and get us back in the black. With agriculture second in economic importance only to oil and gas in Texas, hemp is good news for everyone.
Congress and President Trump did their part in passing the 2018 Farm Bill by lifting federal restrictions on hemp production at the national level and giving regulatory authority over hemp to the states. However it is currently still illegal in the State of Texas to produce hemp. The Legislature must act.
With the 86th Legislature officially underway, it’s now in the hands of Texas senators and representatives to do their part and give our Texas farmers what they have been eagerly awaiting– a chance to produce this valuable commodity.
We must seize this moment and let our Texas farmers get to work!
When the Legislature acts, the Texas Department of Agriculture will be ready. Once authorized by statute, I will immediately direct the Texas Department of Agriculture to create rules regarding licensing, production, testing, seed certification and other oversight as necessary.
As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I want to make the most of this economic opportunity and provide farmers with a sustainable alternative. And, by the way, it’s a great new opportunity for young farmers or those just getting into agriculture production to enter the industry.
For anyone who is unclear: This is not the backdoor to legalizing marijuana. Hemp is the non-narcotic cousin of marijuana and the source of a sturdy fiber and CBD oil, a substance widely used for therapeutic purposes such as treating medical conditions like seizures. I do not, nor will I, support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
I urge the Texas Legislature to act quickly to support industrial hemp production as a new market opportunity for Texas farmers. As a former House member, I know there will be many other important issues to debate this session, but hemp is one that should be easy to get behind.
Industrial hemp is good for our farmers, good for our rural communities, good for our economy and good for our future.
If agriculture is truly our wisest pursuit, we must take every opportunity and act on it. Give our Texas farmers the tools they need to support their families, our communities and provide the food and clothing we all depend on.
Because, as I always say, “Texas Agriculture Matters!” Sid Miller
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