Commissioner Strategizes for Agriculture Industry
Record summer heat, wildfires and the ongoing drought made this one of the roughest years for Texas agriculture. Early estimates show cash losses for agriculture producers exceeded $5 billion, according to Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who gave a speech on the state of the industry this morning in Austin.
“Many producers have gone out of business this year. Our cattle numbers are the lowest they’ve been since 1961. Our grain, corn and grain, sorghum, cotton production has been impacted by 40 to 50 percent this year,” the commissioner said.
Food security was the focus of Staples’ speech. He highlighted the importance of grooming new generations of farmers to produce healthy, affordable food for a growing population.
“When you consider the drought, the wildfires that we’ve had here in Texas, when you look at the weather pattern changes – it threatens our ability to attract new farmers and ranchers,” Staples said. “The average age of the principal operator on a Texas farm or ranch today is 59 years old.”
The commissioner advocated for policies to keep more land in Texas designated for agriculture, instead of being developed. Staples is running for Texas Lieutenant Governor in 2014.