Neugebauer defeated Midland's Mike Conaway by only 1.2 percent in a special election held Tuesday to replace Combest, who announced his retirement last fall. Neugebauer tallied 28,610 votes to Conaway's 27,895, a margin of only 715 votes, 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.

Both candidates had pledged strong support for West Texas agriculture. Neugebauer, in a pre-election interview, said he supports farm legislation passed in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and says that program “should be preserved as passed.”

He expressed opposition to increased payment limitations. “Payment limits are not good for our producers.” He said modern farms depend on an economy of scale to improve efficiency. “Farmers have expanded to increase efficiency and we shouldn't penalize them for that.”

He encouraged the Bush Administration “to put international trade on a level playing field where all players keep their ends of bargains.

Neugebauer said he’s concerned about losing textile mills to developing countries and that the trend must be reversed to preserve jobs and to maintain a strong cotton industry.

Neugebauer also said ethanol production in the state would offer farmers a new marketing opportunity and help limit U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com