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.
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
An agriculture department meeting meant to elicit input from area produce growers was derailed by a government attorney with Nazis, sexism and sterilization on the brain.
A Texas Department of Agriculture meeting designed to gather input from Panhandle fruit and vegetable growers affected by new food safety regulations devolved i...Read More
The changes would waylay working-class families in small-town Texas, where a country-to-city exodus has caused some rural economies to flounder, advocates say.
Libby Campbell hates to see people in West Texas go hungry, but that’s exactly what could happen if Congressional Republicans follow through with their plan t...Read More
A plan to increase the number of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program but cut staff to enforce program rules spells trouble for the fire-prone region.
If you thought wildfires in the Texas Panhandle were bad before, just wait. Proposed changes to a U.S. Department of Agriculture land conservation program, comb...Read More
With farmers’ suicide rates higher than some veterans, rural advocates are pushing Congress to fund mental health care supports for agricultural producers.
After Judith McGeary discovered that several dozen sheep had been slaughtered by a mountain lion on her 160-acre ranch near Waco in 2015, she unexpectedly found...Read More
The president has taken a small step toward funding infrastructure projects in the nation’s small towns, but rural Texans aren’t beneficiaries.
Voters in parts of the country’s deep red regions are finally starting to reap slight rewards for sending Donald Trump to the White House, but those benefits ...Read More