From sun up to sun down, Texas farmers and ranchers are hard at work caring for the land and tending to their crops and livestock. There are bountiful reasons to be thankful for our state’s hardworking farmers and ranchers, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is well acquainted with many of them. In addition to his duties as commissioner, Miller is an eighth-generation farmer and rancher himself. Check out these three ways Commissioner Miller said agriculture impacts our daily lives.
1. Food, Fiber + Fuel
We all enjoy eating and getting dressed each day but many of us can take it for granted. Have you ever stopped to think about how essential the work of farmers and ranchers is to our lives?
“It’s pretty simple. I mean, it’s very cowboy logic as I like to say: Without farmers, we have no food. We have no food, we have no life – the human race doesn’t exist,” Commissioner Miller said.
Texas farmers and ranchers feed our kids, too. Commissioner Miller said Texas farmers and ranchers are supplying fresh local food products for school lunches through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Farm Network. He said through the program’s Meet the Farmer Friday, students even have the chance to meet some of the local producers who provide their food.
“Last year, our schools bought $65 million worth of fresh local products from our farmers,” he said.
Not only do they provide food for all of us, but Commissioner Miller said Texas farmers and ranchers contribute to our daily lives by providing our fiber – clothing and textiles. In fact, the USDA Economic Research Service reports Texas leads the nation in cotton production, approximately 40 percent of the U.S. total production in recent years.
Commissioner Miller said Texas producers also provide us with renewable fuel. Farmers grow corn, which can be used to create ethanol. Ethanol is blended with gasoline and helps us get where we need to go, while reducing our carbon footprint.
“Ethanol is the cleanest burning fuel there is,” he said.
2. A Thriving Economy
The food, feed, fuel and fiber farmers and ranchers provide to our great state contribute to a thriving economy. One of the key ways Commissioner Miller said agriculture contributes to the economy is by supporting jobs, and lots of them.
“One in five jobs is related to agriculture in some form. Whether it be a farmer out raising crops, a dairyman providing milk to the schools, a truck driver delivering produce to HEB, or it may be someone at HEB or Kroger stocking the shelves,” Commissioner Miller said.
These jobs, combined with the money farmers spend to grow their crops and make capital investments in their farming operations, all generate economic activity. In fact, Commissioner Miller said agriculture in Texas contributes more than $300 billion to the economy.
“It’s huge – second only to oil and gas. But it’s always been the glue that’s held Texas together from its earliest inception,” Commissioner Miller said.
3. Protecting Our Natural Resources
“God put [farmers and ranchers] to steward over the land and the animals and the fauna and flora,” Commissioner Miller said.
Our state’s natural resources – soil, water, air, plants and animals – are essential to the production of food, fiber and fuel. That’s why farmers and ranchers strive to steward them in the most efficient way possible. Commissioner Miller explained that farmers and ranchers are challenged to grow more with less.
Through conservation practices and the help of technology, Commissioner Miller said the agriculture industry has become much more efficient with water.
“We’re the largest user of water in the state, and [the Texas Water Development Board] found that agriculture is 93% efficient with the water we use,” he said.
Beyond water use, Commissioner Miller explained that the implementation of conservation practices and cutting-edge technology have also helped reduce agricultural use of fossil fuels by 80 percent, fertilizer by 50 percent and pesticides by 40 percent.
“No other industry has done more for the climate or the environment than agriculture,” Commissioner Miller said.
Thank You Texas Farmers + Ranchers!
It is thanks to the tireless efforts of Texas farmers and ranchers that we enjoy a strong economy, abundant natural resources and good meals. Thank you to the Texas farm families who contribute so much to our daily lives.