Tribpedia: Department Of Agriculture

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 ...

Perry's Embrace of Tax Subsidies Could Haunt '16 Bid

Rick Perry in 1991 at Uncle Ben's rice offices in Houston to promote his Make It Texas initiative. The program was designed to promote the agricultural processing industry with loan guarantees, but a high failure rate sank the program and triggered a $14.7 million bailout in 2009.
Rick Perry in 1991 at Uncle Ben's rice offices in Houston to promote his Make It Texas initiative. The program was designed to promote the agricultural processing industry with loan guarantees, but a high failure rate sank the program and triggered a $14.7 million bailout in 2009.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been promoting tax subsidies for private businesses since the early 1990s. But the programs have rarely lived up to their promise, and a series of damning audits could hurt his expected 2016 presidential run.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller gives away cupcakes at a press conference on Jan. 12, 2015.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller gives away cupcakes at a press conference on Jan. 12, 2015.

Commissioner Gets Cupcake Policy Wrong, Combs Says

When Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced on Monday that his first official act was to grant amnesty to cupcakes, he said he wanted to make sure Texans knew that state rules that once banned such treats from classrooms were repealed last summer. But cupcakes have actually been allowed at school birthday parties in Texas for a decade.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller declares cupcake amnesty at a press conference on Jan. 12, 2015.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller declares cupcake amnesty at a press conference on Jan. 12, 2015.

Agriculture Commissioner Grants Amnesty to Cupcakes

In his first official act as Agricultural Commissioner, Sid Miller granted full amnesty to cupcakes. Miller was seeking to reassure Texas parents that it's legal to bring cupcakes and other treats to school — and that he'll protect that right. It's about local control, he said.

 

A field of corn in the Texas Panhandle
A field of corn in the Texas Panhandle

Texas Sees Significant Decline in Rural Land

Texas is losing more farm, ranch and forest land than any other state, according to recent data. That has implications for water resources, which scientists say are better retained by undeveloped land. The data, from the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, also shows that land is becoming more expensive. Use these maps to see the changes for individual counties.

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.

Farmers Ask Officials to Stop Rail Yard

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. 

In Third Statewide Bid, Friedman Hopes to Win With Weed

Kinky Friedman — noted singer, humorist, novelist and hawker of tequila — has tried multiple times to add “elected official” to his résumé. His celebrity status and unique charm have not translated into success at the ballot box. In his most recent attempt, his campaign has a clearer focus: legalizing marijuana.

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.