Why me and not Sid Miller

Photo by Jay Phagan

Which candidate for agriculture commissioner has unmatched experience with the land, working the fields and the livestock?  Who’s been a business owner and job creator, making payrolls and balancing budgets, and fighting for Texas values and Texas taxpayers? Who has unimpeachable ethics and a record of fighting for transparency in state government? And who has a conservative plan to ensure Texas farmers and ranchers are even better able to do what they do best — feed Texas and the world?

I am the only candidate with those qualifications, and the best one to be Texas’ commissioner of agriculture.

I have been a farmer and rancher here my entire life, working my first 30 head of cattle when I was still a teenager. Today, I own and operate a 10,000-acre cow/calf and alfalfa hay operation in Estelline, a town in Hall County. As I say every day on the campaign trail, I bale the hay and I sell the hay.

As a business owner in East Texas, I created thousands of jobs and over $200 million in payroll.

I was appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Clements to the Sabine River Authority, tackling tough water issues for six years — issues even more crucial today as we face record droughts. 

I served seven terms in the Texas House, where I was a champion for Texas families and taxpayers, sponsoring or authoring the most significant pro-life and pro-family legislation and fighting to cut property taxes, repeal the death tax, and reform property appraisals to protect family farms, homes and businesses. And I'm the only candidate who voted against a state income tax.

I'm also the only candidate who doesn't face ethics investigations or criminal complaints for misusing and not properly accounting for campaign dollars. I won't give the Democrats an issue that will let them capture this seat in November.

Most importantly, I have a vision and a plan for Texas agriculture to ensure we continue leading America and the world in farming and ranching.

That plan has five simple, common-sense conservative principles:

Modernize the agency: Build on the good work of Commissioner Todd Staples by equipping employees with the latest technology to communicate with and assist farmers, ranchers and landowners.

Secure our borders: Facilitate cooperation between local landowners and law enforcement to stop illegal trespassing on private property and ensure immigration regulations are enforced.

Address our water shortage and the drought: Overhaul the burdensome bureaucratic water regulatory system to enable farmers and ranchers to effectively do their jobs while preserving our precious resources.

Appraisal reform: Reform the appraisal process to stop skyrocketing property taxes that threaten family farms, ranches, homes and businesses.

School lunch program: Streamline the $1.5 billion federal school lunch program to eliminate waste and implement a "Can I See" program so parents know what's in their children's food.

By tackling these tough but important issues, we will ensure Texas' economy continues to thrive and our agriculture industry continues to be a model for America and the world.

The office of the agriculture commissioner is sometimes overlooked, but it's one of our most important. The commissioner regulates weights and measures (like your local gas pump and the weight of the food you buy at your local market). It administers the federal school lunch program. And, of course, the commissioner promotes Texas agriculture here at home and around America and the world.

The agriculture commissioner is important enough that the person who heads the Department of Agriculture must be experienced and knowledgeable about ag issues, reflect our shared Texas values, be honest and transparent, and have a common-sense conservative plan for the future. Equally important, our next agriculture commissioner should be 100 percent committed to serving Texas farmers and ranchers, not looking to use the agency as a springboard to a higher office.

I am that leader, and it has been my privilege to answer the call from fellow farmers, ranchers and families across our great state to run for agriculture commissioner. It would be an even greater privilege to put my experience and vision to work serving the people of Texas once again.

Tommy Merritt

Former state representative, R-Longview