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Rep. Andy Murr: Protecting Texas ranchers from border incursions is critical

In an Op-Ed, Rep. Andrew Murr argues that ranchers should not suffer financial liability for the harm done by illegal border crossing.

Growing up on a working ranch in Kimble County, my childhood functioned as a crash course on the ins and outs of how to run a livestock operation. As any rancher knows, one of the most important parts of your operation is the quality of your fences. From keeping bulls and cows separate to implementing rotational grazing plans for sheep and goats, fences are a critical component of the infrastructure of any well-run agricultural operation.

Rep. Andrew Murr

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However, no matter how diligent a rancher may be when it comes to maintaining fences and gates, unexpected and uncontrollable problems such as trespassers barreling through private land to escape law enforcement or a truck dodging a deer and taking down fence along the highway are issues every rancher has to respond to. Currently, if livestock escapes due to uncontrollable conduct such as fence cutting by trespassers, the rancher may be held liable even if the reason the animal escaped was beyond the his or her control. This constitutes a tremendous legal and financial risk for livestock operators that must be addressed, and as a rancher, attorney and member of the Texas House of Representatives, I have the plan to do precisely that.

Back in November, I filed House Bill 73, a bill that aims to give livestock owners liability protection in such scenarios. Far too often I hear stories from friends and neighbors in the ranching community who complain of instances where illegal immigrants cut or drive through their fences or gates, sometimes in the process of fleeing from law enforcement.  Texas ranchers should never have to suffer financial losses from liability claims that arise from the federal government’s inability to secure the border. House Bill 73 is one solution to protect the family ranch from bad acts by trespassers.


As your State Representative, I will continue to prioritize my commitment to advocate for issues important to rural Texas. Our state’s agriculture industry is one of the most critical elements of our economy, and it is the epitome of our heritage and identity as Texans. House Bill 73 provides a bold solution to an emerging and chronic threat faced by the livestock industry.

House Bill 73 was unanimously passed by the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee of the Texas House of Representatives in mid-March. The bill is currently pending in the Calendars Committee, and in the process of being scheduled for a vote on the House Floor. 

House District 53 spans 16 counties across the Texas Hill Country, South Texas, and West Texas including Bandera, Crane, Crockett, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Llano, Mason, McCulloch, Medina, Menard, Real, Schleicher, Sutton, Pecos, and Upton Counties. With over 23,000 square miles, the district is roughly the size of the state of West Virginia, making it one of the largest districts by land mass in the Texas House of Representatives.


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