Sustainable Agriculture & Water

As Agriculture Commissioner I will promote both economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture. We can raise our livestock and our crops without harming our land, our water, and our air. Sustainable agricultural practices seek to satisfy our food and fiber needs while enhancing environmental quality and sustaining the economic viability of ag operations. Practices can be as simple as planting cover crops that protect and enhance the soil in the winter. Or more transformative, such as changing tillage practices or shifting to crop or livestock varieties that are better suited to Texas’s many climates. The goal is to avoid another Dust Bowl.

The Agriculture Commissioner should play a prominent role in advancing innovation in sustainable practices by helping to reduce regulatory barriers, incentivize sustainable practices with market-driven solutions, and shore up rural communities’ education and healthcare systems for generational success. Sustainable agriculture includes regenerative agriculture or practices that improve soil quality and biodiversity by using rotating livestock, mulching, and other practices to change low-production soil into productive, healthy soil. On grazing land, native tall grasses return which in turn improve soil and moisture retention. As Agriculture Commissioner, I will seek to bring the available federal funding to facilitate these practices to Texas and lead the way to the future of Texas Ag.

Carbon capture (or carbon sequestration) offers another opportunity for Texans. There’s an emerging market to actually pay landowners to engage in practices that put carbon back into the earth and out of the atmosphere. Solving the world’s climate crisis may just be the most significant economic development opportunity rural Texas has seen in generations. I intend to make that happen.

As Agriculture Commissioner I will find mechanisms to protect water in place today and into the future. No ag operation should have to choose between unnecessarily using its water rights today to avoid losing it tomorrow. Further, I would insist that state water agencies, groundwater districts, and groundwater management areas have the funding and tools to do their job.

Finally, the Agriculture Commissioner should be working hand-in-hand with institutions like A&M AgriLife to identify viable economic models for Texas producers then promote them to the public to encourage more people to get into agriculture as a career.