Texas Department of Agriculture increases more than 100 fees

FILE - In this June 18, 2015, file photo, New Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller talks about the state's plans to repeal a decade-old ban on deep fryers in public school kitchens, in Austin, Texas. Miller, a first-term Republican who campaigned as an uncompromising conservative, gave out more bonuses to agency employees in his first nine months in office than his predecessor awarded in his first 2½ years on the job, according to an analysis of personnel data. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE - Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

VICTORIA, Texas (AP) — More than 100 fees related to agriculture production are going up this year in Texas, but the added costs to produce food likely won’t be passed on to consumers.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, when disclosing the fees in an October letter, said the increases are necessary to recover costs of regulatory programs.

Among the fees boosted are certifications, such as those for applying pesticides or organic and seed certifications. Some of the increases are about $10, while others are up to six times more than what they were. These fees won’t just affect farmers. Fees for fuel pump regulation, motor fuel testing and regulated scales, such as those in grocery stores, are also being increased.

Keith Schumann, the vice president of quantitative analysis with Agrilogic Consulting, said most local agriculture businesses have to take market price for their products, leaving them, not the consumer, to bear the brunt of the fees.

“Whatever costs they’re incurring, they have to internalize that,” Schumann said. “Any fee increase they’re going to deal with. They can’t necessarily pass on downstream, so they’re going to have to take the hit on that.”

Shannon Deforest, a Lavaca County extension agent, said he has heard some grumbling from farmers. Regulation of farming methods, however, is increasingly important to the public who wants to know the producers are using proper techniques, he said.

Though the increase in fees means farmers are likely going to feel some pain in the pocket, the fees are important in terms of regulation and haven’t been raised in more than a decade, said Matt Bochat, Victoria County Extension Agent.

“Obviously nobody likes to see fees going up, especially government type fees, but some of these fees haven’t gone up in 12, 15 years,” Bochat said. “Most farmers and ranchers and agribusinesses are already paying enough, but it’s give and take. You got to have regulation if you want folks to do things right.”

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