Rural Economies

“So many of them years ago were dependent upon local farmers and it was commodity production, and commodity production on a mass basis is very, very difficult and we’re competing against other countries, and it’s just a challenge. Agriculture has changed and those towns are changing with it.”

Assistant commissioner for rural economic development Robert Wood says the vast majority of ag producers have at least one family member employed off-farm.

“Well, obviously it’s very important that we have a strong rural economy in those areas, so that there’s that other employment, so that we can keep agriculture strong.”

And Texas agriculture is changing.

“We’re diversifying into grapes and wineries, we talked about a little bit of tourism, we’re seeing a huge interest in alternative fuel production.”

Diversity in agriculture began with hunting.

“We went from just growing crops or raising livestock to leasing out the hunting and that’s been huge business. In fact, in much of the state, that’s a larger income producer than the agriculture is, but we still have to have all of it combined to make all of those places profitable.”

Most investment advisors will advocate a diversified portfolio.

“We’ve got to think about what are all the diversified income streams that we can generate on-farm to keep agriculture viable, and then as we keep agriculture viable, those local towns will stay viable with them.”

Kids that have grown up on farms have been exported to our cities for years.

“We’ve recognized that we have to teach our kids quality skills that they can use in our rural areas, not just in New York, or Dallas, or Houston.”

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