The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Trey Blocker, candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. Blocker is running in the March 6th Republican primary against Jim Hogan and incumbent Sid Miller.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Currently an ethics attorney, conservative podcast host, President of the Civil Liberties Foundation, owner of custom homebuilding business, former governmental affairs consultant, former legislative staffer.
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
President of the Civil Liberties Defense Foundation – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal foundation dedicated to preserving and protecting the inalienable rights granted to us by God and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. See libertydefense.org; Host of the Trey Blocker Show (treyblockershow.com) – a conservative podcast focused on bringing our audience in-depth interviews with conservative thought leaders to discuss issues facing our state and nation; Lifetime member of the NRA.
What is your educational background?
BA – Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia
J.D. – Univ. of Texas School of Law
Attended Dallas Theological Seminary
Why did you decide to run for agriculture commissioner?
I want to restore honesty, integrity, and fiscal responsibility to the Texas Department of Agriculture. The current commissioner has raised taxes, grown the government bureaucracy, and needlessly been embroiled in ethical controversies from the moment he took office.
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
I am a 6th generation Texan. My forefathers were among the most well-respected cattlemen of their time. My great, great uncle drove the first herd of cattle onto the XIT Ranch, and gave the ranch its name. I’m proud of this heritage and believe that agriculture and rural Texas are the heart and soul of our great State. Having worked on behalf of agriculture and rural Texas my entire career, I look forward to using this experience to ensure that our food, fuel and clothing continue to be produced by Texans, for the rest of American and indeed, for the rest of the world.
What should the Agriculture Commissioner's role be in advocating for farmers and ranchers in Texas?
The Texas Agriculture Commissioner should be the chief promoter of Texas agriculture and ranching for our state. This is an important responsibility, and the pubic-facing aspect of this will rightly receive commitment and focus from me.
The incumbent has spent far too much time outrageously wasting taxpayer dollars, being needlessly controversial, and actively harming Texas agriculture and ranching families and Texas consumers with his fiscally reckless policies.
I will return TDA to its core mission of representing, overseeing and promoting agriculture and ranching operations in Texas.
Are there any services currently offered by the Texas Department of Agriculture that you would like to see eliminated? Are there any services you would like to see added? If so, please list those services.
One example is that I do not believe the federally funded school breakfast and lunch program should be administered by the Department of Agriculture. If the program continues, it should be sent to the Health and Human Services Commission for administration. I want TDA to be focused on promoting, preserving and protecting agriculture and rural Texas. It should not be spending time and resources on monitoring scales at Starbucks, weighing lottery balls, putting stickers on gas pumps or harassing BBQ restaurants.
Do you plan to advocate any issues to the Texas Legislature? If so, which issues?
According to news reports from The Houston Chronicle and an August 2017 report by the State Auditor, Commissioner Sid Miller’s request to the Legislature for an additional $50 million for his budget and the rejection of that request by the conservative Legislature. Miller’s response was to raise fees on small businesses, including farmers, ranchers, and grocers, by as much as 500%. In 2016 alone, these tax increases generated almost $7 million more in revenue to the Department than is allowed by law. Miller then spent at least $400,000 of those dollars on bonuses for senior staff, which violated agency policies. He spent another $100,000 on new stickers for gas pumps that more prominently featured his name, even though the Legislature told him not to.
When I am Texas Agriculture Commissioner, these fiscally irresponsible policies will end immediately.
I will evaluate the budget situation at TDA and make a conservative but appropriate budget request to the Texas Legislature and work to earn their trust and confidence.
As Commissioner I will work with the Legislature to eliminate or move programs from TDA that aren’t directly related to preserving, protecting and promoting agriculture and rural Texas.
Are you supported by any political action committees? If so, which ones?
Yes. We have several that have decided to support our campaign but they are announcing on their timeline. Before early voting, I will have earned the support of conservative legislators, statewide officials, business and community leaders, trade associations, and conservative groups. Nearly all of them are making decisions this month.
Do you have any aspirations for higher office?
Why should voters choose you in 2018?
As conservatives, we cannot trust Sid Miller. We can’t trust him to behave ethically. We can’t trust him not to raise taxes. We can’t trust him to govern in a fiscally responsible manner. We can’t trust him to not abuse the powers of his office. We need to restore honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility to TDA and we need an articulate, intelligent commissioner fighting for our core conservative values.
Photo by Trey Blocker Podcast