Christopher Collins

Christopher Collins is an investigative journalist based in Abilene. The Wichita Falls native graduated from Midwestern State University in 2012 with a degree in Mass Communication. He previously has worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News and the Wichita Falls Times Record News, along with running a freelance reporting business. At the Observer, he writes about rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at [email protected]

By Christopher Collins:

Rural Reporting Project

New Estimate Puts Harvey Agriculture Losses at $200 Million, One-Tenth of Irma

The figure is only one-fifth of Hurricane Ike’s $1 billion agriculture losses and one-tenth of Irma’s.

Hurricane Harvey caused an estimated $200 million in agricultural losses as it flooded farm fields and washed cattle from ranches, according to a Texas A&M University analysis released Friday. Worst hit was the state’s small-but-thriving cotton belt along the Upper … Read More

Border

Immigrant Workers in Texas Could Fill Farm Vacancies, but They’re Trapped in the Valley

Immigration checkpoints are keeping undocumented immigrants in South Texas while farmers in other parts of the state are desperate for labor.

For the last two years, Bernie Thiel has watched yellow squash rot in his farm fields outside of Lubbock. The crops weren’t diseased, and they weren’t ravaged by pests or pelted by hail, he said. There just wasn’t anyone to … Read More

Politics

Despite GOP Claims, an Estate Tax Repeal Won’t Help 99 Percent of Farmers

The estate tax is levied on few farmers and ranchers, but Republicans still are pushing for its repeal.

When President Donald Trump and GOP leaders unveiled the framework for their tax reform package last week, they promised to vanquish what they say is a longtime foe of the American farmer: the estate tax. Called the “death tax” by … Read More

Environment

Costs for Rural Towns Surge after Hurricane Harvey Hits Water Systems

In Patton Village, some residents went weeks without access to clean drinking water, and now their sewer system is running on a “Band-aid.”

Patton Village had just started using its new $10 million wastewater treatment system when Hurricane Harvey wrecked it last month. Floodwaters fried the pumps’ circuitry and flooded a nearby municipal water well. Residents of one neighborhood went weeks without clean … Read More

Environment

Reports of Livestock Deaths, Other Ag Losses Trickle in After Harvey

The Texas Animal Health Commission and USDA, however, are mum on an estimated death toll.

At the peak of Harvey’s flooding in southeast Texas, Chambers County rancher Richie Devillier couldn’t distinguish between the westbound lane of Interstate 10 and the Gulf of Mexico. Torrential rainfall had filled in one side of the massive roadway, and … Read More

Environment

In Karnes City, Hurricane Evacuees Play the ‘Waiting Game’

“So far, [FEMA has] been helping us,” Tracy Douglas said. “But after September 26, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“So far, [FEMA has] been helping us,” Tracy Douglas said. “But after September 26, I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Read More

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