Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Texas agriculture race is at intersection of farming, energy, the environment and politics

Environmental concerns long prevalent in national campaigns recently have come to the Texas agriculture commissioner race. Buzzwords like green energy, biofuels and sustainable development "are fast becoming the jargon of agriculture workers and the politicians who support them," Jessica Meyers of The Dallas Morning News reports, and the strengthening link between environmental awareness and agricultural development has been reflected in the early political campaigns.

"The farmer and environmentalist have often been trying to do the same thing but approaching it from different angles," Tom Smith, the director of Public Citizen's Texas office, which focuses largely on environmental and energy concerns, told Meyers. "And the farmers and ranchers are the people who have really watched the changes appearing in the climate and are beginning to sound the alarm."

Two Democratic candidates for ag commish have included promises to increase water conservation efforts and promote bioenergy production in their platforms, Meyers reports, while the Republican incumbent is endorsed by the Texas Wildlife Association for his role in "promoting the state's 'Go Texan' labeling, pushing ecotourism and pulling conservation groups into public discussions."

David Griggs, chairman of the Sierra Club's Texas political committee, told Meyer the group has declined to make an endorsement in the Democratic primary because both candidates are so strongly advocating green positions. Griggs credited the Obama administration for increased environmental focus because the president has made "global warming a household phrase and climate-change talks an international discussion." (Read more)

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