2011-03-03 / General Stories

Texas Cattlemen gather in Austin

Work to strengthen private property rights in Texas

Property rights were among the topics of discussion at the state capitol today for members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association who met with state lawmakers to discuss issues critical to landowners and the cattle industry.

“There are a number of state laws being proposed that could drastically affect landowners across the state,” said Dave Scott, rancher and TSCRA president. “The battle over certain private property rights, including groundwater, tops the list.”

Landowners strongly support Senate Bill (SB) 332, a bill that would clarify that landowners own the groundwater beneath their land, and that they have a right to capture it.

Although the Texas Supreme Court has consistently said that landowners have an ownership interest in the groundwater below their land, some groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) have argued that landowners do not have any right to the groundwater below their land.

“If landowners have no rights in the groundwater below their land, then the state can take it and a landowner has no way to stop them. SB 332 protects landowners’ rights in groundwater by making sure groundwater is a legally protected property right,” Scott said.

* SB 332 amends the Texas Water Code by clarifying what the ownership and rightsof landowners are in regards to the groundwater beneath their land.

* SB 332 in no way would take away authority from the GCDs to protect the aquifer.

* SB 332 would, however, require GCDs to justify their actions when regulating the right to capture groundwater.

Texas cattlemen should contact their state senators and ask them to support SB 332.

Texas cattlemen also support SB 18, commonly known as the eminent domain bill. SB 18 would reform Texas eminent domain laws to better protect private property rights of landowners.

SB 18 unanimously passed the Senate but still must pass the House. Landowners are encouraged to call their state representatives and ask them to support SB 18 with no amendments.

For more details and a complete list of issues, please visit www.tscra.org.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 134-year-old trade organization.

As the largest and oldest livestock association in Texas, TSCRA represents more than 15,000 beef cattle producers, ranching families and businesses who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 51.5 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. TSCRA provides law enforcement and livestock inspection services, legislative and regulatory advocacy, industry news and information, insurance services and educational opportunities for its members and the industry.

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