Texas Farms

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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.

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From Texas Standard.

Texas cattle are known more for their beef than their milk. That’s for good reason: The Lone Star State is the country’s leader in beef production by a wide margin.

But don’t count out Texas dairy. Milk production is on the rise in the state, and that’s thanks in part to a move west. Ellen Jordan, a professor and dairy specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, says the Texas produces more than 12 billion pounds of milk.

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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.

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.

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Here’s a question to consider: Who gets milk from the cow’s udder to your kitchen table?

A new report from Texas A&M AgriLife finds that immigrant workers are responsible for producing about 80 percent of the nation’s milk. Researchers also calculated what buying a gallon of milk would cost if we didn’t have this foreign-born workforce.

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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?