In this highly polarized environment, FARFA wants to be very clear: Our endorsements are based solely on the candidates’ positions and track records on topics within FARFA’s mission statement. We look only at their positions on local food and regenerative agriculture, and related issues such as antitrust, water, and eminent domain.
On that basis, for the 2020 November elections, we are endorsing the following candidates:
Texas Congressional District 25 (stretches from south of Ft. Worth to south of Austin): Julie Oliver (D). Julie does not come from an agricultural background, but she has dived into the issue during her campaign. Her platform tackles corporate consolidation and the big companies’ control over our food and ag system. She supports Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and breaking up the big meatpackers. She has hosted virtual meetings on leveling the playing field in agriculture, as well as the benefits of regenerative agriculture. There are extremely few politicians, either in office or running, that have really tackled these issues the way that Julie has.
Texas State Senate District 1 (much of East Texas): Bryan Hughes (R). Senator Hughes has been a long-time ally on FARFA’s issues. He was one of our champions in fighting the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) at the state level and has sponsored several of our priority bills over the years. In the 2019 session, he sponsored the permit fee cap bill and the Local Health Department Better Communications bill.
Texas State Senate District 18 (central Gulf coastal region, north to Burleson County): Lois Kolkhorst (R). Senator Kolkhorst has also been a long-time ally on FARFA’s issues, starting with fighting the National Animal Identification System. She has sponsored multiple cottage foods bills over the years, most recently in the 2019 session. She is also a champion for amending the eminent domain laws to better protect landowners and has been an outspoken proponent for protecting rural aquifers.
Texas State Senate District 21 (stretches on an angle from south of Austin and south of San Antonio to Laredo and the mid-Rio Grande area): Judith Zaffirini (D). Senator Zaffirini has remained committed to passing good bills, despite numerous roadblocks: creating an ombudsman to help small farmers and local food producers navigate the regulatory maze, and providing for fair property tax treatment. She has also been an advocate for conserving rural aquifers and protecting our future water supplies.
Texas State Senate District 24 (From Abilene south through parts of central Texas): Clayton Tucker (D). As a challenger, Clayton Tucker doesn’t have a legislative track record yet. But both his biography and his platform led to this endorsement. He worked on his grandparents’ ranch as a youth, and went on to study agriculture, infrastructure, and water abroad. After returning to the U.S., he moved back to Lampasas and went into ranching and beekeeping. His platform includes protecting bees, protecting our aquifers, and stopping private companies from using eminent domain (the government power to take a person’s property). He has spoken publicly about the need to address the power that large corporations have in our food system and to reform the regulations that hinder small farms and local foods.
Texas State Representative District 20 (Burnet and Milam Counties and parts of Williamson): Terry Wilson (R). Representative Wilson stepped forward last session as a champion on one of FARFA’s highest priority bills – capping permit fees for farmers’ market vendors. He has also been a champion on groundwater issues and was one of the small handful of House members to vote against a water bill (HB 726) that weakened the power of local groundwater conservation districts to regulate exports of groundwater.
Texas State Representative District 45 (Blanco and Hayes Counties): Erin Zwiener (D). Representative Zwiener was a first-term legislator in 2019 and hit the ground running. She sponsored FARFA’s bill for on-farm poultry processing and to create an ombudsman to help small farmers and food producers (although both were blocked by the committee chair). She was also a strong voice for eminent domain reform.
Texas State Representative District 51 (parts of Travis County): Eddie Rodriguez (D). If you have followed FARFA’s work in the Texas Legislature at all, you have probably heard Representative Rodriguez’s name. He has been a champion for cottage foods and property tax reform during multiple sessions. In 2015, he formed the Farm to Table Caucus, and has put his name behind almost every one of the local food bills since, encouraging his colleagues to support this important cause.
Texas State Representative District 71 (Jones, Nolan, and Taylor Counties): Stan Lambert (R). Representative Lambert sponsored two of FARFA’s priority bills in the 2019 legislative session: the bill to make it easier to provide samples at farm stands and farmers’ markets, and a bill to allow the sale of ungraded eggs to restaurants and retailers. He worked hard to pass both bills, going to extraordinary lengths in the (unfortunately unsuccessful) fight for the egg bill.
You can see all the legislators who sponsored or co-authored any of our bills in 2019 at: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/cheers-and-jeers/
We are only issuing endorsements where there is a contested race and one of the candidates has a strong track record and/or positions that promote FARFA’s mission to help family farmers and promote a diversified, sustainable local agricultural and food system.