By Horace McQueen

Lots of folks want what they didn’t earn. OPM is simply an abbreviation for “other peoples’ money.” And when it comes from those “other people” it’s so easy to spend.  We see this more and more as budgets get tight and those elected officeholders want more bucks to fund their programs. Many East Texas cities are applying for every grant they can to fix streets, their water system and other “necessities.”  One old timer told me that in the “old days” folks fixed their own problems — not running to Austin or Washington D.C. for that mountain of cash.

For those of us who aren’t making money hand over fist, trying to raise a family, pay the bills and contribute to the community, increasing taxes just because a taxing authority “needs more money” is frightening. The Houston County Hospital District is one of the offenders wanting to increase taxes on an already burdened citizenry. With a vote coming up May 5th, the hospital district is asking for the right to increase the tax rate to 35-cents a hundred dollar valuation of property. Why? HCHD board members say the extra dollars will be needed to fund the reopening of the now closed Crockett Hospital. One neighbor, a farmer, has close to one million dollars in property on the tax rolls in the hospital district. His home, barns, shop, and land are all taxable. If the 35-cent maximum tax rate is approved by voters, this farmer could be paying $3,500 a year to the hospital district. A resident with a home and land valued at $200,000 would be paying $750 a year. The district already owes over $7,000,000 dollars in notes to banks and other lenders. Property owners need to study the need for a tax increase and make a determination as to whether a yes vote is advisable. Meantime, it may be the time to use the 15-cent a hundred tax rate already in existence to start paying off the $7,000,000 in liabilities rather than adding more debt to the pile!

Dr. Larry Stein, a Texas A & M horticulturist, says a good peach and plum crop is coming our way this spring and summer. Weather has cooperated and moisture has been good in most peach growing regions of Texas. The crop in central Texas where most peaches are grown looks great, says Stein. After the last two years of a dismal peach — and plum — crop, it’s time for some tree ripened local peaches on Texas tables.

When it comes to the beef market, calf prices are still in the doldrums. An announcement from a Brazilian beef packer the other day didn’t add any joy to beef producers. JBS, also based in Brazil, is the largest beef packer in the U.S and the world. Now, the second largest packer in the world, Marfig Global Foods, is buying U.S.-based National Beef Co. The two packers will dominate the U.S. beef market.

Look for JBS and Marfiq to use their size and ability to import beef from afar to their advantage — and the disadvantage of our U.S. farmers! Reckon the ownership by the Brazilians in the U.S. beef market brings any joy to Farm Bureau, the TSCRA and other packer-lackeys that did away with our ability to buy beef with a “country of origin” label?