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.
From East Texas to the Rio Grande Valley, universities are helping struggling schools train staff, start enrichment programs and expand space for district activities.
On June 20, a few weeks after Commerce ISD released students for the summer, about 10 fifth-grade students gather in teacher Cari Aaron’s classroom, playing m...Read More
Dem party leaders like to talk about “energizing rural voters,” but what they’ve delivered so far is a vague, anemic message.
You’ve gotta give it to them — they have energy. But if the first two days of the Texas Democratic Convention are any indication, that may be all Democr...Read More
Residents near German Pellets facilities in Woodville and Port Arthur allege that air pollution and fires have made them sick, but the state regulatory agency has done little to help, the Sierra Club says.
In late 2014, Lisa Sanchez and her husband, Tony, sold their 13-acre ranchette in The Woodlands, where they lived in a single-wide trailer and raised rescue hor...Read More
Mike Conaway and Jodey Arrington are pushing for stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients while helping big commodity farmers rake in billions in government cheese.
The Republican congressmen charged with writing the nation’s Farm Bill like to jabber about how people on food stamps need to get back to work. But those same...Read More
Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch takes a fascinating dive into what it's like to make a living by horseback, both on the range and at the rodeo.
Confession: I’ve never ridden a horse. I’ve never baled hay or branded a steer or helped a cow give birth. Perhaps you think this should disqualify me from ...Read More
The president has levied tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada and Mexico, and they’ve responded in kind. Texas farmers and ranchers worry the dust-up could endanger ag exports to the NAFTA partners.
Update: The Mexican government officially struck back at the United States on Tuesday afternoon by imposing 20 percent duties on imports of certain American po...Read More
A USDA program to help farmers with mental health issues was authorized a decade ago but never funded. Now the U.S. Senate is proposing $2 million for the initiative.
Compared to the general population, farmers and ranchers are seven times more likely to take their own lives, a possible result of social isolation, financial s...Read More
The invisible line that divides the arid western part of the country from the wetter eastern half is on the move, and that has important implications for the Texas capital.
Meet Robert Lee. Not the Confederate general, the town. Robert Lee, Texas is a ranching community of 1,025 that lost its only source of water to the second-wors...Read More
Mindy Brashears could profit from the same industry she’s regulating if she doesn’t divest herself from potential income associated with her patents, a watchdog group says.
A Texas Tech University professor and food scientist with close ties to the agriculture industry has been tapped by President Donald Trump to oversee food safet...Read More