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.
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
A Fort Bend County commissioner wants state lawmakers to consider exemptions to the open government law during emergencies, part of a larger trend of officials slackening important regulations in the name of public safety.
As Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains battered Fort Bend County in late August, flooding 4,000 homes in a largely unincorporated area near Katy, County Commi...Read More
Experts say the city’s lawsuit, filed this month against a man who allowed a homeless camp to be developed on his property, is virtually unprecedented.
In a nearly unprecedented move, the city of Amarillo has made good on its threat to take a landowner to court over a homeless encampment on his property. City o...Read More
Texas Department of Agriculture investigators found that local crop duster pilot Jared Lambert sprayed pesticide that doused three dozen people in a tiny Panhandle town, but the agency has not issued any penalties.
It’s been nearly two years since an errant blast of a dangerous chemical doused the tiny Panhandle town of Quitaque, but the Texas Department of Agriculture (...Read More