News Column

Plains Cotton Growers supports proposed groundwater limits

July 10, 2014

By Josie Musico, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas



July 10--Plains Cotton Growers supports the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District's proposal to limit groundwater use on private farmland, but not unanimously.

The controversial rule revisions -- which the water district's board of directors will consider adopting within the next few months -- contain annual irrigation limits of 1.5 acre-feet, or 18 inches, per acre beginning Jan. 1. Exceeding limits could result in not-yet-determined civil penalties such as fines.

"They need to know the largest commodity can live with these rules," said Plains Cotton Growers chairman Craig Heinrich during the group's quarterly meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The group created a formal resolution when a show of hands revealed about 90 percent of the members in attendance support the water district's proposed rules. Their executive committee established a similar resolution a couple weeks ago, Heinrich said.

J.O. Dawdy, a representative of the Protect Water Rights Coalition who has protested the proposed rule revisions at water district meetings, abstained from voting. The Floyd County farmer said he finds them intrusive, and not worthy of a vote.

"I don't feel like I have the authority or privilege to vote on any man's private property," he said.

The water-rights coalition claims the proposed water restrictions violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable seizures.

"It is so important we do not put ourselves down this very slippery slope," Dawdy said.

Kelly Young, another coalition member, read a passage of the Constitution he feels is in conflict with the concept of groundwater restrictions on private land. He questioned the rule revisions' significance regarding property rights.

Tom Sell, a guest speaker who represents the firm Combest, Sell & Associates, responded the law can be murky, and property rights are not absolute. For example, private property can often be seized in certain criminal cases.

"It's complicated," he said. "Does the water district have authority? I think so."

The water district proposed meter installation and groundwater limits in response to Texas' water crisis. While the board has long recommended voluntary conservation, some feel formal monitoring is a necessary next step to keep the state from running out of water.

Other Plains Cotton Growers talk focused on the new farm bill.

Sell noted that when the bill takes full effect within a few months, its provisions will apply to 2014's recently planted crop.

"This choice you make will apply retroactively to what's in the field now," he said.

And those choices are plenty.

Farmers select their own types and amounts of coverage with the crop insurance that replaces direct payments.

Joe Outlaw, a Texas A&M professor and economist, showed the group how to use an online calculator that determines benefits after they provide data such as their acreage and past yields.

"This is all very simple," he said. "... I would encourage anybody to start putting this data in there."

Sell recommended farmers seek additional confirmation from an insurance agent that they've made the right choice.

"This is definitely a farm bill where you're going to want to have a good crop insurance agent to guide you through," he said.

josephine.musico@lubbockonline.com

--766-8796

www.facebook.com/pages/Region-Agriculture

Follow Josie on Twitter

@josiemusico

___

(c)2014 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)

Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel



Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (TX)


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters