Friday, June 29, 2012

City of Irving Fights Hunger With Summer Meals

Angela Olige
TDA Chief Administrator for Food and Nutrition Division
Guest Blog

Partnerships release the power of possibilities, which is why I was excited recently to visit the city of Irving  to attend a summer nutrition program kick-off event. Through federally funded summer feeding program partnerships, children who depend on school meals for daily nourishment can still get healthy food at local feeding sites when school is out of session.

In Irving, I felt like a kid again as we all enjoyed physical activities and the chance to discuss the 3E’s of Healthy Living — Education, Exercise and Eating Right. After we finished jumping jacks and several other interactive activities, I “deputized” each of the children as 3E’s Ambassadors.

Wherever you are in Texas, you can help children find healthy meals this summer. Tell their parents to call 2-1-1 or visit to find a nearby site where a TDA partner is providing meals.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obamacare Upheld, But Fight Continues

The Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of Obamacare today, but I’m confident the fight is not over. Those who passed the president’s health care mandate are celebrating their initial victory, but in the end, the will of the people will not stand for backdoor politicking and clandestine government overreach.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once famously said, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” President Obama then said “…not a tax…” Well, thanks to the Supreme Court, it is now confirmed “what is in it” is new taxes. The boundaries of our federal government to leverage higher taxes on all Americans have been expanded.

Your health care decisions should be made by you and your doctor, and we should never allow a government bureaucracy or bureaucrat to interfere with that critical relationship. No one respects that relationship more than rural Texans who value the direct relationships they have with their doctors and the ability to make their own decisions based on that patient-doctor relationship.

Through TDA’s Texas State Office of Rural Health (SORH), we are daily working to improve rural health care accessibility by respecting market principles and individual freedoms. The SORH works with rural health providers to maximize the use of available resources to address medical personnel recruitment, infrastructure and equipment needs, along with expanding telemedicine.

Yes, there is shouting in the streets today, but it’s not all cheering for Obamacare. There are voices energized to fight for an America where we face fewer taxes and our grandchildren are not saddled with a government spending spree that creates a dangerous debt that will paralyze future generations. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

McCan Makes a Case for Mexico Joining TPP Trade Discussions

Expanding markets is essential to the economic viability of Texas agriculture producers, which is why Texas cattleman and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President Bob McCan recently offered some pertinent comments about the need for including Mexico in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade discussions. To read more about McCan’s interest in inviting our second-largest export market to join the United States and other TPP countries, go here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Starts Today

After a scorching hot Father’s Day weekend, it was hard to believe it was still spring. That officially changes today as we mark the first day of summer and all the excitement that comes with it.

Summer reminds us of barbecues by the pool, trips to the beach with our friends and snacking on delicious Texas watermelon. It’s also a great time to explore the state’s beautiful rural destinations and day-trip getaways. Whether you’re looking for farmers markets, winery tours or small-town shopping, you’ll find plenty to please the entire family here in the Lone Star State.

And, of course, it’s going to be hot so be sure to keep cool and hydrated, but also be mindful of your water usage this summer. Following last year’s historic drought, we need to take a serious look at our individual water-use habits and find common-sense ways to conserve. As part of the ongoing statewide Texas Water Smart conservation campaign, I’m reminding all Texans that a few drops saved, when multiplied by 26 million citizens, goes a long way toward conserving water and protecting jobs and landscapes.

It’s felt like summer for a few weeks now, but today we make it official. I hope you enjoy quality time with your family, travel safe and make smart water choices when staying hydrated and being Texas Water Smart.

To find Texas getaway destinations, visit For tips on how you can be Texas Water Smart, go here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Meals Fight Year-Round Hunger

With summer break underway, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds us June 11-15 is National Summer Food Service Program Week.

Knowing hunger doesn’t take a vacation, this week and all summer long, we are working with USDA to raise awareness of nutritious, no-cost meals available to children who typically rely on school cafeterias to get the food they need to live healthy lives.

In Texas, local school districts, food banks, faith-based organizations, non-profit organizations and others partner with the Texas Department of Agriculture to maintain meal sites for those in need. Some programs also include fun, recreational activities to keep kids active and entertained. With one in four Texas children considered food-insecure, these meal sites provide a much-needed service to families in need.

The goal of these programs is to not just provide for the immediate nourishment needs, but build a bridge that leads to healthy lives and self-sufficiency.

To find a feeding site near you, dial 2-1-1 or visit to ensure our Texas schoolchildren enjoy a happy, healthy summer. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hail Doesn’t Break Texas Agriculture’s Spirit

The drought and wildfires have been quite unkind this past year to the people who grow our food. According to Texas AgriLife, the recent historic drought and wildfires combined for a total agricultural loss of more than $8 billion.

Unfortunately, Texas agriculture recently suffered another blow when a hailstorm hammered West Texas on May 31, causing destruction on farms, personal property and our economy’s infrastructure.

In that destruction was the Village Farms greenhouse facility in Marfa. Village Farms Inc. is one of the largest producers of greenhouse-grown produce in the nation. The company reports its greenhouses that cover 82 acres in Marfa and Presido underwent substantial damage during the recent storm. While the company is still assessing the extent of the loss, it is expected that sections of its greenhouses will remain closed for a couple months. 

Fortunately for the company, the months of June and July mark the end of the annual crop cycles, which means crop and revenue losses will be at their lowest point. Better news for all involved is the fact no one was injured during the powerful hailstorm and Village Farms expects its facilities to be back up and running in a few months. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lubbock, Amarillo Join Texas Water Smart

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, but in the case of water, I’d rather not find out. As part of the ongoing, Texas Water Smart conservation campaign, I recently joined state and local leaders in Lubbock and Amarillo to encourage Texans to adopt everyday habits to curb wasteful water usage. 

Our recent historic drought and booming population point to an unavoidable conclusion; it’s time all Texans take a serious look at individual water-use habits and find common-sense ways to conserve. Doing so is an investment in our drinking water, our food supply, our landscapes and Texas jobs.

Look around your home and place of business and fix water-wasting leaks; water your lawn and garden only in the morning or evening; and shorten shower times. These are just a few of the water-saving tips all of us can easily make part of our daily routines. And remember, a few drops saved, when multiplied by 26 million citizens, will go a long way toward being Texas Water Smart today, tomorrow and into the future.

For more helpful tips and information, visit

To see news coverage of Texas Water Smart events in Lubbock and Amarillo, go here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

StramitUSA Merges Agriculture, Innovation in Fort Worth

The recent opening of StramitUSA’s manufacturing facility in Fort Worth is a terrific example of innovation and agriculture coming together for a greater good.

The 88,000-square-foot facility was built to harness a manufacturing process that uses leftover straw from wheat harvests as a key ingredient in a construction material known as compressed agricultural fiber (CAF). Branded as Stramit CAFboard, the fiber-based building material can be used for insulation, particle board and sound-proofing panels in a variety of commercial and residential structures. 

This “upcycling” of straw is great news for Texas wheat farmers who now have an available market for a product that previously was burned or tilled under as waste. For StramitUSA, the end result is a completely organic construction product that is energy efficient, mold-resistant, sound-absorbent and fire resistant. 

StramitUSA expects the new Fort Worth facility to create 100 local jobs. Besides employment at the facility itself, StramitUSA will help support the surrounding construction industry and other building partners while offering an environmentally friendly product.

I’d like to thank StramitUSA for setting up shop in Fort Worth and hope that other enterprising industries will follow this innovative example of merging agriculture and industry.

Agriculture continues to touch our lives everyday in new and dynamic ways proving once again that agriculture is your culture