Local reps introduce legislation to reimburse farmers, ranchers for migrant damage

Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez and Henry Cuellar joined two others to introduce bipartisan legislation that, if passed, would reimburse farmers and ranchers for property damage caused by migrants.

The proposed legislation would repurpose unobligated monies from the American Rescue Plan to reimburse agricultural producers for damages stemming from mass migration, including the loss and damage to livestock, crops, perimeter fences, and physical structures, according to a news release Gonzalez sent Monday.

“When fencing on ranch land is cut due to increased migration, it takes a serious financial toll on South Texas farmers and ranchers,” Gonzalez said in the release.

The proposed legislation was endorsed by the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Both said ranchers and farmers have had their land and livelihood “harmed by the border crisis.”

“As stewards of large sections of the Southern Border, ranchers suffer a disproportionate share of the burden associated with illegal border crossings,”NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane said.

Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said the nonprofit, which has more than 500,000 member-families, has been listening to the concerns of many farmers and ranchers that have been affected.

“These hardworking families are enduring additional costs due to cut fences, vandalized property, stolen equipment and more,” Boening said. “While a long term fix to our nation’s border crisis is desperately needed, this assistance will help struggling producers in the meantime.”

He called the proposed measure, which was also introduced by U.S. Reps. August Pfluger (TX-11) and Tony Gonzales (TX-23), a “commonsense and tailored solution to these unprecedented issues.”