Texas Ag experts: Food prices to increase with proposed fees

Sid Miller (KXAN Photo)
Sid Miller (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The price of your food will likely increase next year according to agriculture experts and food industry representatives. January 1, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is raising fees by $22 million on certain industries.

Inspectors from the Texas Department of Agriculture are responsible for making sure you get a gallon of gas when you pay for a gallon of gas. They’re responsible for the criminal background checks for the people that go into your home and your business to do pest control. Over the last two years they’ve caught more than twelve sex offenders. They also ensure food scanners and scales are accurate.

Will Spence says he’d pay more for safer food. He shops every week at Fresh Plus in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin.

“I think it’s definitely worth it to get more quality and definitely know what you’re getting and pay a little bit more, little extra,” said Spence.

“I want to make sure that TX consumers don’t contract salmonella or e coli, or when they buy 20 gallons of fuel, they aren’t getting cheated at the fuel pump, or, when they sell gold, they’re getting exactly what they pay for,” said Com. Miller.

Tuesday, Ag Commissioner Sid Miller says to protect people like Will, he needs to raise fees on businesses his office regulates. This year, he asked lawmakers for $50 million dollars to pay for more inspectors. They gave him $5 million.

“Every day that we’re operating, we’re operating in the red. The Texas Department of Agriculture loses money every day we operate. We have got to stop the hemorrhaging. We’ve got to put an end to the bleeding,” said Commissioner Sid Miller.

“Us and other Ag organizations do not feel like we were part of the process,” said President of the Texas Farm Bureau Russell Boening. He says most of these cost increases will be shifted to the consumer. It’s Farm Economy 101: the more money it takes to produce something, the higher the price.

“Convenience stores, grocery stores. I mean, it effects a lot of folks in this state,” said Boening. These are costs Miller says will be worth it to keep Texas products safe.

In 2011, lawmakers cut the Department of Agriculture by 40 percent, causing them to lay off 150 employees. Commissioner Miller was State Representative Miller then. He voted for the cuts while a state rep.

We wanted to give you a better idea of some of the fees that will go up next year. One example, the application fee for an agriculture field inspection will go up from $30 to $100. The application fee for a grain warehouse will go up from $160 to $300. And an inspection fee on a livestock scale will go up from $172 to $350.

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