Farmers and ranchers from across Texas will head to Fort Worth Dec. 5-7 for the Texas Farm Bureau’s 76th annual convention. The Fort Worth Convention Center in Cowtown is the site for this policy making meeting of Texas’ largest farm group.

"Our organization has had a very good year, even as many of our member families have struggled through some difficult times,” said Kenneth Dierschke, president of the state’s largest general farm organization. “Our membership is at an all-time high as we continue to develop policy solutions for uncertain times in Texas agriculture.”

Dierschke alludes to the age old enemy of farmers and ranchers in discussing drought and weather-related disasters that were challenges for farm and ranch families in 2009.

“The rains came back in the latter part of the year to some parts of the state, but for South Texas, the drought of 2009 was epic,” he said. “It underscored the need for a federal farm program, crop insurance and other risk management tools.”

Dierschke said the organization has unfinished business, and vowed the organization would eventually be successful in its now three-year battle to reform Texas’ eminent domain laws.

“We celebrate the passage of Proposition 11 in November,” Dierschke said. “But that is only a small part of what must be done to level the playing field between those that take property and the often mistreated property owners of Texas.”

The grain and cotton farmer from San Angelo said the organization and its political arm, AGFUND, “would hold Texas political candidates accountable” if they run for office in 2010 claiming that Proposition 11 is the final solution to eminent domain reform.

AGFUND endorsed Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in October, citing current Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to eminent domain reform and his poor property rights record.

Dierschke said the Texas Farm Bureau’s national legislative program has been “playing defense,” forced into opposing a broad range of legislation that “would be harmful to agriculture.”

“We would like to play a constructive role in climate change legislation, health care reform, the Clean Water Act, and other initiatives,” Dierschke said. “The proposals, however, are so heavy handed, with so much government involvement and so costly to agriculture that we can’t sign off on much of it.”

Dierschke said the TFB convention in Fort Worth would be about fine tuning the organization’s policies to meet the challenges of the coming year.

Registration for the state convention, along with TFB Member Services exhibits, begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. Other Saturday events will include the Miss TFB and Talent Find contests, as well as the Free Enterprise Speech contest.

Events Sunday, Dec. 6, begin with a 10:30 a.m. devotional, followed by member recognition awards, Pioneer Award presentations and the naming of the 2009 Outstanding Young Farmer and Rancher. Sunday afternoon will also feature Dierschke’s annual address to the convention delegates.

The meeting concludes Monday, Dec. 7, with the organization’s annual business session, including the election of the president and board of directors. There are two candidates on the ballot for president. Dierschke is seeking his eighth one-year term and Bobby Nedbalek of Sinton in San Patricio County has also been nominated for president.

For more information, visit the Texas Farm Bureau website.