Agriculture

AgriLife Today/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The traditional farm-to-table path for food has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many people staying home and out of work, food supply chains can't operate as before. Demand for certain goods has also changed.

As Prices Fall, Texas Dairies Have To Keep Milking

Apr 22, 2020
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas dairy farmers have no trouble producing milk these days. If anything, they're producing too much – which has created a problem for them.

Flickr/AgriLife Today (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

There are lots of terms to describe the market meltdown we've seen over the past month or so: a crash, a dip, a prelude to recession. The cattle industry has its own name for a downturn: a wreck – and make no mistake, we are in the middle of a big one. But though economic shock from coronavirus pandemic is part of it, this wreck has less to do with disease than with the uncertainty surrounding it.

Texas Wool Mills Hang On To A Tradition

Jan 31, 2020
Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

In the 1950s and '60s, the idea that Texas would one day relinquish its position as the epicenter of the wool and mohair world must have felt unfathomable.

For Hemp To Work, Farmers Want Rules That Fit Reality

Jan 23, 2020
Kay Ledbetter for Texas A&M AgriLife/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Although there’s no shortage of people in Texas planning to get into the hemp industry, many of them have serious concerns about how it will be regulated. There is no regulation right now because it’s been illegal to grow hemp in Texas for almost 100 years.

Ryan Poppe/Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Department of Agriculture this week released a proposed set of rules for growing hemp, which had been illegal until the federal government's 2018 Farm Bill cleared the way for production.

The new rules will help would-be growers understand how the crop will be regulated. And when the hemp is ready to be harvested, a Dallas company has a plan for processing it.

AgriLife Today/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Not every crop could compel farmers to pay $50 to spend a chilly weekday in a drab conference room in Wichita Falls. But hemp is not every crop.

 

Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Most whiskey distillers will likely say that “aging” is a crucial part of their process. Aging is when the spirit is left to sit in a barrel, sometimes for years. The older the spirit, the better it will likely taste. But for Austin-based distillery, Still, it’s the grain from which the whiskey comes that also matters. Still uses 100-year-old heirloom wheat, which can be hard to come by. So it asked a Texas farmer to grow it.

From Texas Standard:

A North Texas town with about 400 residents is the source of more than $230 million in bonds for the city of Dallas and elsewhere. Windthorst, a small dairy farming community close to Wichita Falls, has issued bonds for several projects, most notably the Dallas Arboretum, Texas Christian University and the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.

3 Texas Takeaways From The Latest Agriculture Census

Apr 22, 2019
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture produces a count of all the country's farms, ranches, crops, livestock and anything else related to agriculture. It recently released data from its 2017 census and here are three things worth nothing:

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From Texas Standard:

In 2016, a groundskeeper from California named Edwin Hardeman filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, an agribusiness company that's since been acquired by Bayer. Hardeman had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he claimed that using the popular weed killer called Roundup for the past two decades partly led to him contracting cancer. Earlier this week, a jury agreed with his claim.

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Several Texas news outlets are reporting about how volunteers are helping those experiencing food insecurity this Thanksgiving. But how much attention is focused on those who grow and harvest the food, or those who rely on food stamps? Both issues are part of the massive federal farm bill that's set to expire soon, and with Congress away for Thanksgiving, certain crop subsidies, federal nutrition assistance programs and more are in limbo.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

When we think of cotton we just think of the fiber – the white fluffy stuff you see while driving down the highway. But there's a lot more to the cotton plant than that. In fact for every one pound of fiber cotton plants produce, about 1.6 pounds of cotton seeds are grown. And there's just not a lot you can do with cotton seeds other than plant more cotton.

But Keerti Rathore has been working for almost a quarter century to change that. He wants you to be able to eat cotton seeds.

Rathore, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant biotechnologist, has received approval for his genetically modified cottonseed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Marcia O'Connor/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Among the many annual traditions in the Lone Star State, few are as well known or as deeply etched with tradition and Texas excess as the State Fair of Texas. From outrageously fried confections to Big Tex and, of course, plenty of football. The event held at Dallas' historic Fair Park is larger than life. This year State Fair-goers have a new attraction to visit, one that recalls the roots of an old-fashion county fair: The Livestock Birthing Barn was conceived (pun intended) after a heifer gave birth to a calf during the fair last year. Now, all fairgoers can learn about the miracle of life through the incubation and birthing process of various livestock animals. The goal of the Livestock Birthing Barn is to highlight the agricultural importance of breeding livestock and its role in our everyday lives.

Kimberly Vardeman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In south Texas, cotton farmers are beginning to reap what they've sown. The harvest season starts in the Rio Grande Valley, and slowly creeps north throughout the fall. Whether it's drought, hail, flood, or pests, there's plenty that can go wrong while growing cotton. But farmers aren't clear of the hazards once they get the crop out of the ground. They still have to avoid cotton contamination. That's something that Jimmy Roppolo knows quite a bit about. He's the general manager of United Ag Cooperative in El Campo, where they're starting to gin this season's cotton.

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From Texas Standard.

Texas is becoming increasingly urban, but lots of folks still live in the vast rural swathes of the state, as do their animals. That’s why it’s a problem that there’s a big shortage of veterinarians, who want to practice away from the big cities. The solution seemed simple to Texas Tech University – just open a new veterinary school in the Panhandle to get more people trained.

USDA NRCS Texas/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Wild boars, feral swine – many call them feral hogs. But as lots of Texans know, they’re the source of much angst and misery. Feral hogs cause property loss of more than $1.5 billion nationwide, about a quarter of which is in Texas. And that may be a conservative estimate. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is stepping in with what it hopes is a solution.

A Native Species Gets Pushy

May 8, 2018
photo credit: D.Eickhoff <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50823119@N08/5188041050">Heteropogon contortus</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

From Texas Standard:

Have you ever heard of tanglehead? If you haven’t, you're not alone. Tanglehead is an ordinary-looking grass that is taking over parts of south Texas. It spreads fast and boots out other plants in the process. That sounds like the behavior of an invasive species – but it isn't. In this case, tanglehead is native to south Texas. It’s become a problem nevertheless.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Facing potential new tariffs with China, some Texas agricultural producers say they’re concerned about extra taxes on the products they ship to China. But the state’s Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says most Texas producers won’t be affected.

Texas Monthly

Texas vintners are paying more attention to small details that add up to a better bottle of wine. Texas Monthly drinks columnist Jessica Dupuy speaks to us about why the state's winemakers are earning so much acclaim and talks about her favorite 30 Texas wines out of 150 she sampled. 


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From Texas Standard.

All eyes are on Washington as temporary spending measures and DACA hover at the top of our debates and news feeds, but one big task Congress has yet to tackle involves a long-stalled $81 billion disaster relief package that would benefit Texans rebuilding from Harvey, as well as aid victims of hurricanes Maria and Irma. Texas farmers demanding a cotton provision are one group that’s been delaying the bill.

Kevin Diaz, Washington correspondent for Hearst Papers in Texas including the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio-Express News, says the relief package has been in the works since November.

From Texas Standard:

A lot of Texans will be paying close attention Monday to the words and tone of President Donald Trump as he addresses farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville. At a time when Texas is growing in population,  becoming less rural and more urban than it was 10 years ago, advocates say rural issues are no less important than they once were. And that's the message Trump aims to send during his Farm Bureau speech. But what do Texans want to hear, especially on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA?

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If you’re familiar with anthrax, it’s probably because of what happened in 2001. Letters laced with anthrax spores were sent to news outlets and politicians, killing five people and infecting over a dozen more. But people in southwest Texas were familiar with anthrax long before 2001. It’s all around them.

Michael Marks

From Texas Standard.

In southeast Texas, farmers and ranchers are trying to eradicate a kind of grass that’s taking over the landscape. But it’s not working.

On a warm December morning in Colorado County, halfway between Austin and Houston, the sun is shining on a maroon pasture, thick with waving, waist-high grass.

“I mean that’s pretty. ‘Mhmm.’ That’s as pretty as you’d ever want to see,” says Gary Thomas, who raises cattle nearby.

Texas Pumpkin Crop Hit By Season Of Spooky Weather

Oct 10, 2017
Eve Tisler/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Due to recent unpredictable weather, farmers say, it has been more difficult than usual to get jack-o’-lantern pumpkins to Texas porches this year.

“We have seen one of the most extreme years that we have seen in farming,” says Tim Assiter, owner of Floydada Pumpkins in Floydada, Texas. 

Tyler McLaughlin/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Grape-growing experts say Texas vineyards could see another banner year this season. But vineyard owners in the High Plains, where more than 80 percent of the state's wine grapes are produced, are concerned about damage to their crops from herbicides used on nearby cotton fields. They say the chemicals are drifting into their vineyards. And that’s causing some tension among neighboring farmers.

Pravdaverita/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas is making its mark on swine dining.

Acornseekers, a farm just west of Flatonia, is home to nearly 700 pure ibérico pigs – a black-hooved breed from a Spanish bloodline that can be traced back to before Roman times. Famous for their acorn-centric diet, the purebred ibérico pigs are responsible for the pork delicacy jamón ibérico.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

As farm-to-table food and restaurants have grown in popularity across the country, the idea of locally sourcing food has become especially popular in Austin. Farmers markets are popping up, and families are subscribing to community-supported agriculture programs, or CSAs. Fueling this trend are small-scale farms in and around the city.

Flickr/AgriLife Today (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas’ Rio Grande Valley is home to over 200,000 food-producing animals. But it’s facing a critical veterinarian shortage. That could put animals in the region at risk for disease, which could turn into a problem for humans.

Flickr/ Marco40134 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Far from the original spindletop, a group of maverick Texas farmers are trying to make money on a whole different kind of oil: olive oil. For years, folks in South Texas have harvested olives, planting tens of thousands of acres of trees. Now, they say, it’s time for growth.

Demand for the oil both at home and abroad is high, and the trees growing in some of the world’s biggest producers – Spain, Italy – have been hard-hit this year with drought and disease. Is it time for Texas olive oil, then?

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