The Texas Aquaculture Association was active during the 2023 Texas Legislative Session and sponsored two bills to address long-standing issues which have been priorities for producers and lake managers. The first bill wasHB 1333, which continued theeffort started with HB 3568 during the 2021 Legislative Session to remove unnecessary and redundant labeling and licensing requirements by TexasParks & wildlife for buyers of protected fish raised by Texas producers. In addition, the legislation changed TPWD rules governing the use of largemouth bass and crappie harvested for management purposes, allowing them to be used for restocking by managers rather than having to be euthanized.
TAA also sponsored HB 2271, which specifically added aquaculture to the list of agricultural activities protected under the Texas Right to Farm Act.The Act protects farmers from lawsuits that typically happen when neighbors object tothe sights, sounds, smells or other “nuisances” created by agricultural activities. Both bills were carried by Rep. Kacal in theHouse and Sen. Kolkhorst in the Senate, and both passed the legislature and were signed into law by the Governor. TAA owes a debt of gratitude to Rep. Kacal and Sen. Kolkhorst for their support of our industry.
During Christmas of 2022, Winter storm Elliot resulted in more freezing temperatures across southern Texas which again caused mass mortalities for redfish producers. Fortunately, producers were able to apply for disaster protection coverage under the USDA Farm Service Agency Emergency Livestock and Honey Bee Program (ELAP). The TAA again assisted in procuring market price assessments to help producers file factual and accurate claims with the FSA. Unfortunately, as of thiswriting, the settlement payments are stillunder review by FSA. TAA will continue to assist producers until they receive appropriate payments under the ELAP program.
TAA members are participating in a steering committee for a NOAA sponsored workshop entitled “Overcoming Barriers to Expanding Aquaculture in Texas”.This workshop will take place in conjunction with the annual TAA meeting during January 22-23, 2024. The workshop will feature several notable speakers, and along with the networking, fun and fellowship will be well worth the time to attend.
The TAA website is being revamped to meet the needs of existing and prospective TAA members as well as those seeking information, interaction and services provided by TAA members. New website features will showcase producer and supplier listings that are on the TAA availability list. The new 2023/2024 availability list will be updated during July and August, and renewals as well as new members are currently being pursued.
Sometimes it’s not apparent how important producer-based trade associations are until there is a need. The activities above showcase the need for advocacy and how successful an association can be when its members get involved. TAA’s continued success depends on you, so if you are a current member, please renew your membership and consider increasing the level of your support. If you are not a member, but have an interest in supporting Texas aquaculture, please visit texasaquaculture.org and sign up, or call me at (956) 494-3868 to learn why you should be amember.