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Beef Tax Passes - Most East Texas Voters Say ‘NO’

By Horace McQueen
Contributing Columnist
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Well, the "Beef Tax" votes have been counted. Statewide the vote was 4,718 for and 2,762 votes against. In East Texas the votes were a landslide "NO" in most counties - with Houston County voting 29 for and 85 against. That tallies to 75% of the vote in Houston County a resounding "NO".

In Anderson County again a loss for the tax advocates - 61 against and 5 for - 92% against! Henderson County was 30 for and 50 against. The Cherokee County vote was 39 against and 17 for. And in Trinity County, there were only 6 "yes" votes and 38 "no" votes. HoustonNacogdoches County voters marched to a different drummer with 39 for and 9 votes against.

Even though the vote went against opponents of the added $1 a head check off statewide, the total vote was an egg-in-the-face for Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. With far more Farm Bureau members than there are farmers and ranchers in Texas, Farm Bureau could not muster but a handful of votes from their members in many counties. And TSCRA with over 15,000 members turned out a small number of their membership to vote.

One thing is disturbing. Representatives of the Texas Department of Agriculture had told several news media questioners, before the final tally was released, that about 3,500 total votes were cast at county Extension offices - plus another 600 possible votes from cattle owners that requested a ballot by mail. Once the vote counting was completed by TDA, total votes came to 7,080. Anyway you cut it, Texas cattle producers will "contribute" an additional eleven million dollars a year to the beef check off. This is in addition to the present $1 a head tax that raises another eleven million dollars. That's $22,000,000 that our cattle owners will be paying every year. As for the new $1 tax, we are told it is "refundable" by writing TDA for a refund application - and then submitting a copy of a sales ticket to verify the refund. Sounds like a lot of effort to get a refund of the extra dollar but at our ranch we darn sure will request our money back! Meantime, before the new tax goes into effect on Oct. 1, several cattle producers are discussing a lawsuit to declare the vote and the way it was conducted invalid. Time will tell whether legal action will be successful.

Where will our next crop of brave men and women come from to serve in our military?

Our military leaders are reporting that 71 percent of our 17- to 24-year-old service age men and women don't qualify for entrance into the armed services. An alarming 28 percent can't pass a medical exam while 8% can't pass a drug test. Another 35% are disqualified for a variety of reasons. Those include aptitude, conduct, excessive tattoos, felony convictions and lack of a high school education and preferably some college credits. Food for thought - that only 29 percent of our young men and women of service age can actually wear the uniform of the U.S. Armed Services!

That's - 30 -