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.
Hospital administrators throughout Texas say the insurance company is using “strong-arm” tactics to push unfavorable contracts.
It’s hard to keep a hospital running in Iraan, a dusty community of 1,229 people in the middle of the West Texas oil patch. In the 2017 fiscal year, Iraan Gen...Read More
With a GOP committee chair gone and new bills in the pipeline, state lawmakers and government transparency advocates seek to close loopholes in Texas open records law.
It’s been three years since Enrique Iglesias walked away from the Rio Grande Valley holding a proverbial sack full of taxpayer cash. He got the money in 2015 ...Read More
O’Rourke’s strategy of hitting all 254 counties didn’t win him the race, but it likely gained Democratic ground in small-town Texas, Republicans’ most reliable stronghold.
At first glance, it would appear as if Democrats were dealt a series of miserable defeats in rural Texas Tuesday. Beto O’Rourke, who spent beaucoup time and m...Read More
A report released by the Environmental Integrity Project identified Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson as major dischargers of wastewater containing high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.
The Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” — a Connecticut-sized stretch of saltwater where chemical runoff from farms in the Mississippi River watershed feeds ox...Read More
Sid Miller’s Ag Department Knew About Dangerous Pesticide Violations in 2015, Did Nothing for Two Years
A state inspector found that USDA's fever tick teams broke state and federal rules by indiscriminately spraying poison and dumping toxic pesticides on ranchland.
On August 17, 2015, Harlingen rancher Danny Davis called in a complaint to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Like many others who raise cattle and hors...Read More
Conservative lawmakers, an oil investor and other activists did all they could to stop a wind project in rural Texas, even as the state has increasingly embraced renewable energy.
Earlier this year, a Canadian energy producer was poised to build two large wind farms in Clay County, a mostly featureless stretch of plains at the Texas-Oklah...Read More
Journalist Sarah Smarsh’s book encapsulates what it’s like to grow up in the forgotten farm fields of America, artfully mixing anecdote with political context and societal commentary.
Having fun during a Kansas winter, as Sarah Smarsh writes in her new memoir, Heartland, requires creativity: “Lots of snow, no hills.” In one memora...Read More
Mindy Brashears, a Texas Tech animal scientist nominated by Trump to lead the food safety arm of the USDA, is deeply embedded in the agribusiness industry.
Trump’s nominee to head the food safety division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is deeply entangled with agribusiness. According to ethics documents ob...Read More
The DPS proposed to close “inefficient” driver’s licenses office in mainly rural areas, even though it would have created an extra hurdle for voters to get state-required photo ID.
In a victory for Texas voters on Wednesday, a panel of state lawmakers unanimously killed a proposal to shutter up to 87 “inefficient” Department of Public ...Read More