Guy Montag/flickr

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.

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?

William Higgins and Yvonne Martinez-Higgins

Agriculture is big business in Texas. Statewide, it has a $100 billion dollar economic impact.

But the industry may be at risk. The average age of a Texas farmer or rancher is 59. And fewer young people are taking over the labor-intensive work.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set up a program to assist aging agricultural workers in Texas. They’ve also identified a population that may be well-suited for taking over the work – veterans.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Indiana farmer infringed on Monsanto's patent when he planted soybeans that had been genetically modified by Monsanto without buying them from the agribusiness giant.

The City of Austin is thinking about helping to create a permanent farmers' market that would operate seven days a week. It was the first recommendation in a recent report produced for the city by Texas Perspectives, a local economic analysis and consulting firm. 

"Permanent food markets and food hubs could well speak to all the major findings of this report," TXP wrote, "as they offer the possibility of enhancing the Austin food sector in a way that appeals to both tourists and locals." 

KUT News

A Stanford University study published today doubting the health benefits of organic fruits, vegetables and meats has some Texas farmers raising questions.

The study, authored by Dena Bravata, MD, MS, was published in today’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. It found no consistent differences in the vitamin content of organic food versus the cost-cutting, conventionally grown alternative.

“That study doesn’t really look at a lot of very important factors,” says Judith McGeary, founder of the Texas-based Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “Vitamin content isn’t the only issue, even for adults. One issue is the exposure to pesticides, which are to be blunt, poison. And the study did show that there was significantly less exposure to pesticides from organic produce than from conventional."

Robert Burns for Texas AgriLife Extension Service

While Texas has partially recovered from drought conditions thanks to heavy rain, the Midwest is going through one its worst drought years in decades. And conditions may impact some  – but not all  – Texas farmers’ pocketbooks.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the nation is going through the worst agricultural drought since 1988. For corn and soybean growers it’s been especially harmful, since more than three-quarters of those crops are considered to be in a drought area. But that could actually prove to be beneficial for Texas.

“With the Midwest suffering from drought, that’s driving prices up," says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority. "So that means the market price for the corn, for many of the farmers in Texas and our area, is going to be very good."

First Person is an ongoing series from KUT News where Central Texans tell their own stories, in their own words.

KUT News freelancer Jeff Heimsath filmed Marissa Lankes, an organic farmer at Austin’s Boggy Creek Farms. While passionate about her work, Lankes dispels the romanticism of farming, and argues that interest in artisan fields like organic farming may be a product of dimming career prospects for young citizens and recent college graduates. 

The search for the killer of America's bees is a little bit like an Agatha Christie novel.

You've probably heard of compost – that thick chocolate-colored stuff that's an organic gardener's best friend and supplies plants with all kinds of succulent nutrients.

There has been a lot of talk about what's wrong with food deserts. First lady Michelle Obama, for one, says far too many people can't access the fruits and vegetables they need to be healthy.

Photo courtesy

A new farmers’ market opens on Austin's eastside tomorrow. And aside from offering fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses, the market offers a special incentive for families needing food assistance.  

The market, located at the YMCA East Communities Branch will be run by the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). It’s the fourth farmer’s market the SFC operated in Austin.

But SFC community relations director Susan Leibrock notes that this center is different: shoppers using a SNAP, Lone Star or WIC benefits card will have their fruit and vegetable purchases matched, up to $10 each week, by the market.


Three-quarters of Texas is experiencing “exceptional drought”, the worst category used by the US Drought Monitor. The effect on farmers and ranchers has been profound. But a state program launching today aims to give city folk a way to help farmers and ranchers by enjoying the fruits – and meats – of their labor.

Photo by Whatknot

Historically dry conditions have brought the the Texas agriculture industry to its knees, according to the Texas Farm Bureau's board of directors. The board met for its quarterly meeting in Waco today and released this statement.

Dry lakebed
Image courtesy Whatknot

The latest US Drought Monitor Map, released this morning, shows 85 percent of Texas is "abnormally dry."

Eighty Texas counties currently have burn bans in effect, according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife map. Travis County is not currently under a burn ban but the neighboring counties of Williamson, Lee, Burnet, and Blanco are.