Texans are Talking about Agriculture

In the last six months, Kim Olson has traveled from Cameron to Lamar, Ector to Jefferson, Deaf Smith to Fort Bend, and 80 other counties in between with plans to visit all 254 counties in Texas.  Her goal is to listen to folks about their concerns and desires and how best the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) can serve them.  Kim’s belief is that representative government should reflect the peoples' interests, and the only way that happens is by walking farms and fields.  In addition, Kim feels visiting folks where they work and live - their kitchens, local coffee shops, restaurants, and town halls - are some of the best places to understand and appreciate Texans.  Kim Olson now presents her positions on everyday issues for the future of agriculture with significant, thoughtful, and compelling input from Texans in every walk of life.

"After 9 months and 95 counties traveled, here are my policies based on what Texans are saying they care most about."   - Kim Olson

Tell me what's important to you ...

Economy & Jobs                                                                          

Farming and ranching are the backbone of the Texas economy.  Agriculture in Texas has an economic impact of over $100 billion and accounts for 1 in every 7 jobs.  Strengthening our agricultural sector means supporting prosperity for our entire state.
Rural Development    Access to reliable Internet by bringing broadband services to rural areas is essential for competing in local, national, and global markets.  Yet 40% of business and household lack access to this vital service.
Economic Viability    You may not be a farmer, but our food comes from farms and we all need to eat.  On a scale far greater than the household food budget, our state's entire economy is dependent on a robust agricultural sector to balance trade and retain jobs.
Organic Opportunities    Consumer demand continues to increase.  Texas has immense capacity, but is missing out on this market opportunity as it ranks 7th behind New York in organic food production.
Farm Labor    Reliable labor during planting and harvest is the concern of many farmers and ranchers throughout the state.  A stable workforce, including migrant workers, is critical to the economic success of fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop production as well as processors of agricultural products. 
New & Beginning Farmers   There is interest among young families, people seeking second careers, and returning veterans to enter the agricultural sector.  Access to land and capital and other barriers can be addressed at the state level to support and encourage participation in agriculture.

Land & Water                                                                              

Land, water, and all our state's natural resources are necessary to sustain life.  Covering over 130 million acres of land in Texas, our farmers and ranchers are stewards of these resources and need our support to sustain their farms so that future generations can appreciate their value, as well.

Water    The life force for anyone involved in agriculture and consumers alike is water.  Texans in most of the state have experienced drought, while others are dealing with the consequences of too much water.  TDA can be a strong voice for farmers and ranchers, whose livelihood and ability to provide us with food and fiber depend on this precious resource by advocating for water planning and policies that protect farmers and landowners' rights.

Farmland Preservation    The ability of America to feed itself – to provide a safe, reliable, and domestically controlled food supply – is her strength, but it may be in peril.  Over 40 acres of U.S. farm and ranch land are lost every hour.  Farms and ranches are not only our source of food, but they represent our rural heritage, provide wildlife habitat, and offer environmental benefits.

Regenerative Agriculture    Embraces sustainable agriculture, regenerating topsoil and biodiversity, ensures that the current generation's food and fiber needs are met, but it also serves to protect resources and assets for future generations.  Regenerative agriculture and climate-smart practices are needed to sustain and grow our $106 billion dollar economy.


Healthy Texans                                                                            

The health of our children and families is critical.  Healthy children are better students, and a healthy workforce is more productive.  Ensuring a safe and nutritious food supply supports a healthy economy and quality of life for Texas families.
School Meals & Childhood Nutrition    When the school touts school lunch standards, but the kids still say ‘yuck,’ what are those local and national examples and lessons learned that we could promote throughout the state?
Healthy Families & Communities    By partnering with health providers, universities, and schools, we can tackle childhood obesity rates and promote healthy lifestyles in our communities.  A prosperous state economy depends on healthy Texans.  
Food Safety   Texans are entitled to a safe food supply.  This can only be accomplished through adequate training, scale-appropriate regulation, and transparent enforcement of clear and understandable rules to ensure families are protected.


Local Foods                                                                                 

Perhaps local food is trendy in the urban centers.  Considering the economic potential for Texas farmers, the "eat local" trend can enhance the prosperity of rural areas and help connect Texans with the culture of agriculture in our state.

Local & Regional Markets    Farmers’ markets have been on the rise in the U.S., but are starting to plateau and even lose market share to other local food outlets.  Promoting cooperation among farmers for processing, marketing, and distribution can ensure farmers stay viable in the changing marketplace. 

GO TEXAN Campaign    Texas products are the best in the world and we should capitalize on our brand – from beef, fiber, citrus, dairy, wine, and grains.  Buying local products can enhance communities, decrease input costs, revitalize small farmers, and improve health of Texas families.  A refocus on both domestic and international markets that support the GO TEXAS branded campaign can greatly enhance the Texas agriculture economy.

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