Hog poison fight in Texas ends — for now
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Ever since Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller approved Kaput for use on hogs back in February, supporters and opponents of the poison have fought a fierce battle in the forum of public opinion, in the courts and in the legislature. Despite the best efforts of those opposed to the use of the warfarin-based hog poison, efforts to ban it in this session of the Texas legislature proved fruitless.
The fight may not be over, though. Here's where things stand right now.
In mid-April, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.B. 3451, which would prevent the use of any lethal pesticide for use on feral hogs until a study assessing the agricultural and environmental impacts of the poison could be completed. However, the bill stalled in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, & Rural Affairs and was never voted on by the Texas Senate as a whole.
As a result, the bill died when this session of the Texas Legislature ended May 29. Gov. Greg Abbott just called for a special session of the legislature starting July 18, but the hog poison bill did not make the cut of the 20-topic agenda he announced. Thus, opponents of Kaput will not have another legislative opportunity to stop use of the poison until the next session of the legislature convenes in January 2019.
On the other hand, the owners of Scimetrics — the company that produces Kaput — announced April 24 that they decided to withdraw registration for use of Kaput in Texas. So, even though H.B. 3451 did not pass, nobody can use Kaput for hog control in Texas right now. That being said, there is nothing that would prevent Scimetrics from reapplying for registration with the Texas Agriculture Commission at some point in the future.
Miller, who is perhaps the most visible face of the pro-Kaput crowd, has taken quite a beating in the news media in the last couple of months over his handling of the Kaput situation. Criticism of Miller intensified when a recording surfaced in May, featuring Miller suggesting that some of the federally mandated restrictions on the use of Kaput were "not doable."
With all of this in mind, it's unknown how receptive he would be toward reauthorizing the registration of Kaput in Texas for Scimetrics if they were to reapply in the future.
At the same time, one of the stated reasons for fast-tracking the approval of Kaput back in February was to give farmers and ranchers a chance to use the poison on hogs before they planted crops in the spring. Hogs are easier to bait during the late winter months because there aren't as many food sources available. Not only would this theoretically make the hogs easier to bait and kill, but Miller also hoped that it would put a dent in the hog population and reduce the amount of damage the they could do to the crops after they were planted.
Well, now that farmers are basically done planting their summer crops in Texas, that ship has sailed.
Though the fight over Kaput may have died with a whimper with the end of this session of the legislature, nobody really knows what the future holds for Kaput in Texas. For now, it looks like we're back where we started with hog control in Texas.
Meanwhile, the hog population continues to grow at an unsustainable pace.
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