Cowboys and endless blue skies are one of Texas’ claims to fame. Both can often be seen from the 144 million acres of rural land spanning across the state. Within its population of 26 million people, 12 percent of Texas residents live in rural areas, and one out of seven Texans rely on agriculture for their livelihood. An astounding 98.5 percent of the 247,500 farms and ranches are family farms or family-held corporations.
The Lone Star State boasts a variety of topographical and climate features. This variety allows Texas to support numerous crops and products. Plains, coastlines, mountains and basins make up the landscape, and the state is so vast that it contains approximately 1,100 different types of soil.
Agriculture is the second-largest industry in the state. The economic impact of the food and fiber sector is more than $100 billion annually. Cash receipts from agriculture totaled $22.7 billion annually during 2011, and revenue from agricultural exports totaled more than $7.6 billion in 2011.
Texas is the top producing state in the country for a number of agricultural commodities. Cattle, cotton, sheep and goats, wool and mohair, and hay are some the state’s most-produced commodities.
True to its reputation, Texas is No. 1 in the nation for cattle production. There are about 149,000 cattle operations in the state with 11.3 million head of cattle. Beef and veal exports alone were worth $961 million in 2011. Hides and skins brought in another $472 million on the international market. Texas produces 13.3 percent of the meat in the U.S., which accounts for 50 percent of the state’s agricultural income.
Although the cattle industry dominates the public perception of Texas, fiber production is an integral part of the state’s economy. In 2012, farmers produced 5 million bales of cotton. Not to be overlooked, wool and mohair also are popular fibers. In 2012, 700,000 sheep and lambs produced 2.3 million pounds of wool.
Needless to say, Texas has an agricultural industry befitting its size. With millions of acres producing countless commodities, agriculture provides jobs, food and income for Texans and others across the globe.