Wednesday, September 6, 2006 
                                     10:00 a.m. 
                           Capitol Extension, Room E1.016 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.18, a public hearing of the Subcommittee on Agriculture,  
         Rural Affairs and Coastal Resources was held on Wednesday,  
         September 6, 2006, in the Capitol Extension, Room E1.016, at  
         Austin, Texas. 
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Craig Estes                     Senator Juan Hinojosa 
         Senator Mike Jackson 
         The chair called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.  There being  
         a quorum present, the following business was transacted: 
              The first invited witnesses were a panel from Texas A&M  
         University, Dr. Andy Vestal, Agriculture and Natural Resources  
         Emergency Management, Texas Cooperative Extension Service, and  
         Dr. Buddy Faries, Extension Program Leader for Veterinary  
         Medicine, Texas Cooperative Extension Service.  Dr. Vestal  
         testified about adding the Texas Cooperative Extension (TCE) to  
         the State Emergency Management Council (SEMC) because of the  
         critical role of the county extension agent.  TCE supports local  
         and community needs with public information and educational  
         services in every county.   Dr. Faries testified that the first  
         line of defense in emergencies involving foreign and emerging  
         animal diseases (FEADs) is with animal owners, county extension  
         agents, and private veterinarians to ensure early detection and  
         rapid reporting.  
              The next panel of witnesses, representing state agencies,  
         consisted of  Dr. Dee Ellis, Texas Animal Health Commission  
         (TAHC), Dr. Bob Hillman, TAHC, David Kostroun, Texas Department  
         of Agriculture (TDA), and David Morrison, Texas Parks and  
         Wildlife Department (TPWD).   Dr. Ellis reported on diseases  
         that concern Texas agriculture and are monitored in Texas,  
         including hoof and mouth disease, BSE (bovine spongiform  
         encephalopathy), and poultry diseases.   
              Dr. Hillman gave an update on the National Animal  
         Identification System (NAIS).  He explained that the three major  
         components of NAIS premises identification, animal  
         identification, and animal tracking have been initiated.   
         Premises identification has been implemented in all states and  
         is voluntary in all states except Wisconsin and Indiana.   The  
         U.S. Secretary of Agriculture current position is that NAIS  
         should be voluntary and that market forces should encourage  
         producer participation.  Premises identification is an important  
         component for disease control.   
              David Kostroun testified regarding how other states are  
         addressing plant disease and intentional threats to the food  
         supply.  TDA seeks to improve detection and monitoring in case  
         of an outbreak.  Texas does not have permanent road inspection  
         stations which are used in other states, but has utilized  
         temporary road inspection stations.  Kostroun testified that  
         permanent road stations would be beneficial  in the state.   
              David Morrison testified on the avian influenza monitoring  
         process in Texas.    He stated that no cases of avian influenza  
         have been detected in North America and that the current form of  
         the disease is not easily transmittable.  The problem is the  
         migratory nature of wild waterfowl which have overlapping summer  
         territories in the north and could transmit disease from  
         Southeast Asia to North America.   Texas will continue to sample  
         birds from sport hunting and other live bird collection points.  
              The next group of witnesses was from livestock cattle  
         breeder organizations, Ed Small, Texas and Southwestern Cattle  
         Raisers Association (TSCRA), John Cowan, Texas Association of  
         Dairymen (TAD), Josh Winegarner, Texas Cattle Feeders  
         Association (TCFA), Bruce Dopslauf, Independent Cattlemen's  
         Association of Texas, and Dan Dierske, Texas Farm Bureau. 
              Mr. Small testified TSCRA has been in favor of NAIS and  
         supported H.B. 1361 enacted last session.  John Cowan testified  
         that any animal tracking system must comport with the USDA  
         regulations.  He stated that it is a matter of public safety as  
         well as public health.   TAD favors moving forward with the  
         identification system.  Mr. Winegarner testified that TCFA is  
         working to enhance response and preparedness for foreign animal  
         disease in order to protect the industry.  He said that premise  
         and animal identification are means for combating disease and  
         that TCFA supported H.B. 1361.  Winegarner said that TCFA's  
         position is that NAIS must be made mandatory to be efficient and  
         effective and that it also must remain confidential.   
              Mr. Dopslauf testified that ICA works with state and  
         national groups to protect the cattle and beef industry.  He  
         said that ICA supports and encourages voluntary premises  
         identification system that must be simple and workable.  He  
         supports a "bookend system" with tags and harvesting of tags at  
         slaughter, noting that premise and animal identification should  
         be sufficient, without tracking every animal movement.   ICA  
         supports a voluntary system that works with the market but is  
         not unwieldy or expensive.   Mr. Dierske testified that TFB  
         supports the work of the government agencies.   He also  
         testified that TFB encourages the state to examine ways to  
         increase the efficiency and production of ethanol and supports  
         border security.   
              The next panel representing industry consisted of Judith  
         McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA), Steve Bridges,  
         Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA), Brad  
         Stufflebeam, TOFGA, and Mark Levin, Texas Public Policy  
         Foundation, Center for Effective Justice.  Ms. McGeary testified  
         that FARFA is a new organization created as a result of H.B.  
         1361 and the TAHC rulemaking process.  FARFA does not oppose a  
         voluntary program.  She testified that some animal owners were  
         led to believe that premises registration was mandatory and that  
         they would be criminally penalized for noncompliance.  She  
         testified that the state needs to consider the level of risk,  
         the economic cost, the cost to rights and privacy, and the  
         alleged benefits to be gained from NAIS.  She added that Texas  
         should make programs that respect the different sizes of  
         livestock producers and tailor programs to the specific species.    
         FARFA recommended several alternative means for protecting  
         agricultural interests in Texas. 
              Mr. Bridges  testified about the "local food movement" and  
         commented that TOFGA is forming a public policy committee in an  
         attempt to become more involved.   TOFGA opposes NAIS because of  
         concerns that it will eventually become mandatory.  Bridges said  
         that food comes from farms and that the factory farm model is  
         not the only way to raise food.  He said that factories, not  
         farmers, benefit from NAIS and that the food supply needs to be  
         decentralized and diversified to make it less vulnerable to  
         attack of all kinds.   Bridges believes the government should  
         stay out of the personal lives of citizens because it goes  
         against the core values of this country and a rural lifestyle. 
              Mr. Stufflebeam testified that he is a full-time farmer  
         representing small farmers and ranchers in support of  
         independent and sustainable small family farms.  He said that  
         the NAIS program does not take into account small rural  
         community life and that there is no assurance that the  
         information collected will be secure.   Mr. Stufflebeam stated  
         that  NAIS places an unfair burden on the smaller producer.   He  
         recommends increased border inspections, education for small  
         producers on how to identify and prevent disease, and  
         diversification of the local food supply.   
              Mr. Levin testified that there are more than 1,700 criminal  
         offenses on the books and that the state does not need to create  
         another criminal offense of noncompliance with NAIS.    
              The next panel of witnesses representing industry included  
         Bob Turner, Texas Poultry Federation (TPF); Guy Sheppard, Texas  
         Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA); Ken Horton, Texas Pork  
         Producers Association (TPPA); and David Hooper, Texas  
         Thoroughbred Association (TTA).   Mr. Turner testified TPF is  
         supportive of premises identification and the requirements of  
         the federal program because premise and animal identification  
         are essential to control animal diseases. 
              Mr. Sheppard stated that early efforts of the voluntary  
         identification program have worked.  He mentioned the  
         requirements placed on TAHC by the Legislature to raise fees to  
         meet the agency budget needs.   Sheppard said that TVMA stands  
         strongly in support of TAHC and the procurement of funding for  
         its operation.  Mr. Horton testified that TPPA is concerned  
         about disease threats from all sources and continues to support  
         H.B. 1361 with voluntary premises registration.  He said that  
         TPPA does not believe that proper procedures are in place at  
         this time to provide an effective individual animal  
         identification program and that there is no real benefit for  
         recording animal movement. 
              Mr. Hooper testified that TTA is opposed to the  
         identification program and the imposed deadlines.  He said that  
         current regulations cover the transport of horses and that any  
         additional regulations create unnecessary costs.  He recommends  
         that the state legislature delay programs for horses until the  
         USDA acts on the request of horse groups to be exempt from NAIS.   
              Following the invited testimony, public testimony was  
         presented by: 
         Mayor Ed Smith, Marshall, Texas, stated that as a horse breeder  
         he is opposed to H.B. 1361.  He believes that most Texans  
         affected by the legislation and proposed rulemaking were not  
         aware of it.  Smith testified that the provisions of H.B. 1361  
         would harm, hinder, and restrain the growth of the livestock  
         industry generally and especially the equine industry. 
              Dr. Joe David Ross, retired veterinarian, representing  
         himself, testified that horses do not get hoof-and-mouth disease  
         but that they do get diseases that require quarantine and that  
         transporting horses and other show animals can spread disease.   
         Ross noted that identification of sheep and goats has been  
         mandated since 2001.  Ross said that he recommends the state act  
         deliberatively and not adopt premise identification until USDA  
         has fully implemented the federal program. 
              The last witness, Ms. Amanda Cohen testified that NAIS  
         could prevent her from owning the 10 chickens she raises as a  
         hobby.  She suggested that if the identification system is  
         implemented a "cut off" limit should be included for small  
              There being no further business, at 2:35 p.m. Senator Estes  
         moved that the subcommittee stand recessed subject to the call  
         of the chair.