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 ...

Horse Slaughtering to Be Focus of Senate Hearing

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Texas was home to two of the last three horse slaughterhouses in the country. After a shift in Congress, it is now possible for slaughterhouses to return. On Tuesday, the Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee will hear testimony about how the end of horse slaughtering has affected the state.

Advocates Worry Food Aid Cuts Could Hurt Texas Families

As legislators tinker with what some say is the cornerstone of America's food safety net, some Texans are concerned about what cuts could mean for low-income families, if they come to fruition. Many legislators, though, argue that the food stamp program has grown too large, and become too expensive.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is abandoning the use of hot-iron branding and moving towards the use of ear tags for the identification of cattle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is abandoning the use of hot-iron branding and moving towards the use of ear tags for the identification of cattle.

Beef Stakes

Texas Weekly

The Texas economy is churning out record job numbers, but the $7.5 billion cattle industry isn’t doing too hot — or rather, it’s too hot.

Victor Elizando and Noe Obregon rest in the shade during a visit to the farmland Obregon used to tend before the USDA's discriminatory loan practices put him out of business.
Victor Elizando and Noe Obregon rest in the shade during a visit to the farmland Obregon used to tend before the USDA's discriminatory loan practices put him out of business.

Drought Deepens Worries Over Aging Farmer Population

The U.S. is losing a generation of family farmers that may not be replaced, according to national agriculture statistics. And as Mose Buchele of KUT News reports for StateImpact Texas, the drought may be exacerbating that trend in Texas. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Texas Farmers Watered Crops Knowing They Wouldn't Grow

By mid-summer last year, many cotton farmers gave up all hope of producing a crop. Yet they had to keep watering, using precious resources from diminishing aquifers. That's because insurance companies, before making payouts, would ask for proof that the farmers had tried to make their land produce.

Left to right: Leland Stukey Kelly Young, J.O. Dawdy and Kirby Lewis photographed in Floydada, TX, on Mar. 8, 2012.
Left to right: Leland Stukey Kelly Young, J.O. Dawdy and Kirby Lewis photographed in Floydada, TX, on Mar. 8, 2012.

Texas Farmers Battle Ogallala Pumping Limits

As the Ogallala Aquifer slowly declines, some West Texas farmers are now facing limits on the amount of water they can pump from wells on their land. Many aren't happy about it — and in the wake of a February court ruling, this could be just the beginning of renewed groundwater wrangling across the state.

L to R:  Ruth Sagehorn and Virginia Schuerman look at entries in the citrus fruit exhibit at the Citrus Fiesta in Mission on Saturday Jan 28th, 2012.
L to R: Ruth Sagehorn and Virginia Schuerman look at entries in the citrus fruit exhibit at the Citrus Fiesta in Mission on Saturday Jan 28th, 2012.

Greening Disease Threatens Texas Citrus

The first-known case of citrus greening disease in Texas was confirmed last month on a Rio Grande Valley orange tree. After getting the go-ahead, quarantined growers, pressed to move the last of the year’s oranges to market, cautiously resumed harvesting on Feb. 1. But they fear the disease could spread and seriously damage their industry.

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, holds up copy of recently released independent copy of Texas border security during press conference at Texas Capitol on September 26th, 2011
Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, holds up copy of recently released independent copy of Texas border security during press conference at Texas Capitol on September 26th, 2011

Staples and Generals Call Out Feds on Border Security

The former head of the U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command said Monday that if the U.S. does not provide more support to Mexico, that country's next presidential administration may have no choice but to make a deal with cartel leaders.

Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples - August 29, 2011.
Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples - August 29, 2011.

Todd Staples: The TT Interview

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The Texas commissioner of agriculture on the "catastrophic" devastation he's seen from the worst one-year drought in recorded Texas history, what the feds and state are doing and what needs to happen to cope with a potential multiyear drought. 

Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples at TribLive on  May 12, 2011.
Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples at TribLive on May 12, 2011.

Audio: Todd Staples at TribLive

At last Thursday's TribLive conversation, I interviewed Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples about the impact of drug-fueled violence on border farmers and ranchers, what he thinks about the Senate's two-thirds rule, his nascent campaign for lieutenant governor in 2014 and more.

Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.
Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.

Slideshow: Fever Tick Inspection in Laredo

Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.
Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.

Cartel Violence Complicates Tick Eradication Plan

Mexican cattle are now examined in Laredo before being cleared for shipment to the rest of Texas and beyond — part of an effort to eradicate a fever tick infestation that has plagued ranchers along the border for more than a century. Until last year, the inspections took place in Mexico. But a ruthless battle between the drug cartels forced those inspection sites to close in March 2010.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 3/7/11

Conversations about the coming Hispanic majority and the 82nd session from our New Day Rising symposium, M. Smith on the latest tort reform battle, Galbraith on greater scrutiny of the gas industry, Ramsey on whether lawmakers will cut their own pay and benefits, Ramshaw and Aguilar on what's holding up abortion sonogram legislation, Aguilar on the ag commissioner's controversial new website, Philpott on what $9.8 billion in public education cuts looks like, Hamilton on a snippy exchange of higher ed letters and Grissom on the latest court decision in the Hank Skinner case: The best of our best content from March 7 to 11, 2011.

On State Website, Calls for Vigilante Justice

Texans advocating extreme solutions to secure the border — including land mines and booby traps on farmland along the Rio Grande — have a new forum to share their views: a website launched by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples that allows ranchers and farmers to share stories, pictures and videos documenting their daily struggles with drug cartels and undocumented immigrants. But that's not all they're doing there.

Interactive Maps: Texas Rural Development Funding

Urban luxuries — say, running water — aren’t guaranteed everywhere in Texas. The state Department of Rural Affairs helps rural Texans get these basic amenities (and to also prepare for disasters), but the agency is on Gov. Rick Perry's chopping block. Will it matter if the Dept. of Agriculture absorbs its duties? Use our interactive maps to visualize where TDRA grants have gone, and for what purpose.

Cross-Border Trucking Program Could Begin Again

A proposal by the Obama administration that would grant Mexican truckers greater access to Texas roadways would be a boon for business in the state, supporters say, since three of the top five ports for trade between the U.S. and Mexico are Laredo, El Paso and Houston. But unions contend the plan would cost American jobs. “This cheap-labor program comes at too high a risk and at too large a cost to middle-class American workers who work long, hard hours to help maintain a safe commerce system in our nation,” says a spokesman for the Texas AFL-CIO.

UT/TT Poll: Perry 50, White 40, Glass 8, Shafto 2

Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads his Democratic challenger, Bill White by 10 points — 50 percent to 40 percent — in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 8 percent of respondents; Deb Shafto of the Green Party gets 2 percent. In the last UT/TT poll, conducted in early September, Perry led by 6 points, 39 percent to 33 percent. In a red state in a red year, GOP incumbents in other statewide races are beating their Democratic opponents by between 13 points and 20 points, the new poll found.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Sept. 27, 2010

Thevenot on the fastest-growing charter school chain in Texas, Hu on the continuing legal fights between tort reformers and trial lawyers over the state's windstorm insurance pool, Hamilton on the push for accountability in Texas colleges, Philpott on legislative skirmishing over federal education funds, Grissom on misdemeanor convicts choosing jail time instead of probation that's more expensive for them but cheaper for the state, M. Smith on Bill Flores' challenge in what's billed as the hottest congressional race in the country, Ramshaw looks at scandals that have put some otherwise safe statehouse incumbents in deep electoral trouble, yours truly on the closest and ugliest race on the statewide ballot and Galbraith and Titus on pollution from idling vehicles and why it's so hard to control: The best of our best from September 27 to October 1, 2010.

Race for Agriculture Job Grows Nasty

In a year that appears to be custom-made for GOP statewide candidates, the last thing Todd Staples wanted was for Hank Gilbert to make the race for agriculture commissioner interesting, let alone turn it into a minor spectacle. "I have an opponent who is a pathological political liar," says Staples, the Republican incumbent, citing a list of transgressions. "This guy is likely the most unfit person to run for office in recent Texas history." Gilbert says things are going just the way he'd hoped. "I like where we are," the Democratic challenger says. "I like that we've gotten under his skin a little bit."