Tribpedia: Department Of Agriculture

Tribpedia

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is the state agency charged with overseeing agricultural business and collecting statistics on crops and livestock. The agency was established by the Texas Legislature in 1907.

TDA is based in Austin, Texas and has five regional offices, four satellite offices, seven laboratories and six livestock export facilities.

The commissioner of agriculture, who is elected ...

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Farmers Ask Officials to Stop Rail Yard

Farmers in the community of Mumford worry that if Union Pacific Railroad acquires the rest of the land it needs to build a new rail yard in the area, the familiar landscape of cotton fields off of FM 50 in the fertile Brazos River Valley will change forever.
Farmers in the community of Mumford worry that if Union Pacific Railroad acquires the rest of the land it needs to build a new rail yard in the area, the familiar landscape of cotton fields off of FM 50 in the fertile Brazos River Valley will change forever.

Residents in a small Texas community are fighting against the potential construction of a rail yard on farmland with nutrient-rich soil. The residents have run out of legal maneuvers, and are now pleading with lawmakers for help.

Ongoing Drought Pushes Beef Prices to Record Levels

As Texas enters its fourth year of record-setting drought, ranchers, along with economic and agriculture experts, are concerned that increasing food prices — especially for beef products — could take a toll on American dinner tables. Beef prices are higher than they've been in nearly 30 years.

 

Kinky Friedman is shown at his Medina, Texas, ranch.
Kinky Friedman is shown at his Medina, Texas, ranch.

Analysis: A Kink in the Democrats' Chain

Texas Democratic leaders tried to keep Kinky Friedman off of their November ticket, for fear voters will not take him seriously. But if he wins a runoff for agriculture commissioner in May, he might offer them their best odds for a win. The Republicans are choosing between two former legislators who were voted out of office, and neither is as well-known as the Kinkster.

Cloud Seeding Advocates Look to Build Momentum

As dry conditions persist throughout Texas, policymakers have talked about projects like building new reservoirs and desalination plants and drinking recycled wastewater. Some scientists and water planners want to add "weather modification" to that list. This story was produced in partnership with KUT News. 

School children at Cantu Elementary in San Juan, Texas, eat their free breakfast, Wednesday April 24, 2013.
School children at Cantu Elementary in San Juan, Texas, eat their free breakfast, Wednesday April 24, 2013.

Ag Candidates Weigh In on School Lunch Program

One of the Texas agriculture commissioner's biggest jobs is running the federally funded school breakfast and lunch program. Read what the Republican and Democratic candidates for agriculture commissioner have to say about the program. 

Mike Skinner on Dec. 26, 2013 outside the farmhouse on the land five miles east of Spearman that he sold last spring. Three generations of his family had farmed the land.
Mike Skinner on Dec. 26, 2013 outside the farmhouse on the land five miles east of Spearman that he sold last spring. Three generations of his family had farmed the land.

Farms Aren’t Going Away, but a Lot of Little Ones Are

A growing number of Texans are leaving farming and ranching because of opportunities in urban areas, a spike in land prices and concerns about risky weather patterns fueled by a blockbuster drought that continues to plague much of the state. And the agricultural workforce is not getting any younger.

 

Texas Farmers, Ranchers Hit Hard by Shutdown

During the federal government shutdown, Texas agricultural producers were unable to access key pricing data, low-cost loans for their operations and disaster relief payments that many have been hoping for. Perhaps the biggest issue for the industry is that the shutdown had stalled negotiations on a new farm bill, which was already overdue.

Field Unit Manager Stephen Daniel of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program checks a boll weevil trap located adjacent to a cotton field in Mustang Ridge, Texas, Aug. 14, 2013.  Daniel uses a TBWEP pickup truck as a mobile office where he weekly checks dozens of traps for the pest insect outside of Austin.
Field Unit Manager Stephen Daniel of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program checks a boll weevil trap located adjacent to a cotton field in Mustang Ridge, Texas, Aug. 14, 2013. Daniel uses a TBWEP pickup truck as a mobile office where he weekly checks dozens of traps for the pest insect outside of Austin.

South Texas Makes Gains in Fight Against Boll Weevils

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, eradication efforts aimed at the boll weevil — an insect that can destroy the yields of cotton plants — have lagged behind the rest of the state. But in the past year, weevil numbers have dropped precipitously in the region, a decline due in part to drought conditions in the area.

Evan Smith talks with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples during a TribLive event on May 2, 2013.
Evan Smith talks with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples during a TribLive event on May 2, 2013.

TribLive: A Conversation with Todd Staples

Todd Staples has served as Texas' agriculture commissioner since 2007. Before that, he served as a state representative for House District 11 from 1997-2000 and as a state senator for Senate District 3 from 2001-2005. He has announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor in 2014. A former rancher and businessman, Staples graduated with honors from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics.

This event was recorded before a live audience in Austin on May 2, 2013. Our TribLive events feature discussion with our honored guests followed by questions from the audience. For more information on Tribune events, please visit http://www.texastribune.org/events/.