Rural Reporting Project
Texas has the largest rural population of any state—3.8 million people—yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas. View an interactive story map here.
More than 100 Texas counties—many with limited medical resources—will be able to reopen businesses to 50 percent capacity on Friday.
In Red River County, a community of about 12,000 in far northeast Texas, the first confirmed COVID-19 case didn’t come until mid-April, despite the ballooning...Read More
Tyson employees interviewed by the Observer say that as the coronavirus spread through the facility in April, the company failed to notify them of the danger in a timely manner so they could protect themselves.
Officials at Tyson’s poultry processing plant in Shelby County may have waited weeks to tell workers that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19, preven...Read More
The outbreaks, which are being investigated by the state health agency, represent the first reported cases of the virus inside Texas meatpacking plants, and are in rural areas where medical resources are already stretched thin.
A meatpacking plant in Deep East Texas appears to be connected to an outbreak of COVID-19 in a rural part of the state where the number of coronavirus cases has...Read More
Pesticide drift is exposing rural Texans to dangerous chemicals. But lawmakers are more concerned with how that is eating into Big Ag’s balance sheet.
In the interim between legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee will have an opportunity to examine an important but under-the-r...Read More
Mindy Brashears’ confirmation comes at a time when Americans are scouring supermarket aisles for safe food to eat.
On Monday, amid the rapidly intensifying COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Senate quietly approved a controversial scientist from Texas to oversee the safety of the n...Read More
With no edict from Governor Abbott, rural school officials must weigh the health of their students against the health of their communities.
Update: Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday, March 19, that all Texas schools will be closed until April 3. If he’d arrived four hours sooner, he’d ha...Read More
Kathy Stewart has complained for years about the fecal dust invading Yellowhouse Canyon. But so far, her concerns have mostly been ignored.
The wind is high in Yellowhouse Canyon, a working class neighborhood on Lubbock’s southeastern outskirts, as Kathy Stewart collects her chihuahua from the fro...Read More
It’s Illegal to Take Drone Photos of Cattle Feedlots in Texas. Press Groups Say That Violates the First Amendment.
To get a sense of the Panhandle’s network of cattle feedlots, which can cause health problems for those who live around them, you've got to see it from above.
Close up, a feedlot cow is a sight to behold: It’s a hulking, broad-shouldered eating machine with a three-foot-long tongue and a jaw that never seems to stop...Read More
In the Texas Panhandle, which produces a fifth of the U.S. beef supply, communities are being choked by fecal dust from nearby feedlots. The state’s regulatory agency isn’t doing anything about it—and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
In the Texas Panhandle, which produces a fifth of the U.S. beef supply, communities are being choked by fecal dust from nearby feedlots. The state’s regulator...Read More