Abilene, Texas – (January 31, 2009)
At the conclusion of its 107th annual convention, long time Texas Farmers Union President Wes Sims reported a “very successful convention.” President Sims advised the TFU delegates had re-elected three District Directors, Gary Moore from Vigo Park; Dennis Clower from Eastland; Bobby Crossland from Lamesa and elected the forth District Director, Jimmy West from Roxton.
In keeping with the convention theme, the attendees were treated to informative presentations by Maurice Hladik, Director of marketing for Iogen Corporation entitled “is Texas Biorefinery Ready?” and Harwood Schaffer, research associated with the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee entitled “Check the Data.” Iogen Corporation operates a cellulosic ethanol plant in Canada and the convention attendees were given information on the many agricultural residues (straw/stover) which can serve as the biomass fuel for a plant, necessity for guaranteed feedstock supplies and other factors needed for the successful location of a biorefinery in Texas. Mr. Schaffer’s presentation dealt with agricultural policy, production and trade. According to Mr. Schaffer, many of the long held beliefs and practices concerning agriculture do not stand up against the data. Many countries that we look toward for trade of our agricultural food products are, in fact, not exporters rather than importers. Food is a biological process and limited by annual production periods, constrained by natural forces (temperature and weather) and does not have the precise production controls available to other sectors of manufacturing. Other issues include regulations and their enforcement (food safety, imported items, index funds and derivative markets), concentration issues (size of agribusinesses and balancing the interests of agribusiness and farmers/ranchers) and stabilization of markets.
President Sims presented a video on the expanding uses of industrial hemp (hemp which has been genetically modified to eliminate the cannabis) and its use in “hemcrete”, a new building material using industrial hemp and lime. This new material is being mandated for future use in the European Union (EU) and is designed to revolutionize construction and eliminated the use of steel. “Hemcrete” will be used in both residential and commercial construction in the future. Industrial hemp is also the most efficient plant which can be used in the production of cellulosic ethanol. President Sims stated the growing of industrial hemp will not be the immediate solution for farmers but could hold future income possibilities as markets are developed and the crop can be grown on marginal land.
Additionally, Andy Wilson with “Public Policy”, David Hall, Attorney from Sweetwater, Texas, and several other residents from the Sweetwater area, representing the Multi-County Coalition, LLC, came before the convention and reported on the planned construction of coal-burning power plant in Nolan County. Texas and specifically Nolan County, lead the nation in construction of clean-energy, electrical wind turbines. With the current wind turbines limited in their production of energy by the lack of a power grid sufficient to allow the turbines to operate at maximum power production and the unknown adverse affects of a coal-burning plant to the area, the convention delegates agreed for Texas Farmers Union to join the Multi-County Coalition. President Sims reported the passage of the Texas Farmers Union 2009 Policy Statement with a Special Order of Business (SOB) accepting membership in the Coalition and appointing Wes Sims to be the Official representative of Texas Farmers Union in all Coalition proceedings.
Established in 1902 in Point, Texas the Texas Farmers Union is the state’s oldest general farm organization that represents family farmers, ranchers and rural interests working to improve the quality of life for rural people through education, cooperation and legislation.
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