Search archive
Explore Archive

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioners’ records

Texas Department of Agriculture:
An Inventory of Department of Agriculture Commissioners’ Records at the Texas State Archives, 1952-2006, undated, bulk 2000-2003

Organization History Scope and Contents Restrictions Related Materials


Creator: Texas. Department of Agriculture.
Title: Department of Agriculture commissioners’ records
Dates: 1952-2006, undated, bulk 2000-2003
Abstract: The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) promotes production agriculture, consumer protection, economic development, and healthy living. The majority of the records are administrative correspondence, subject files, and speeches from Commissioner Susan Combs, dating 1997-2006, undated, bulk 2000-2003. Also included are biographical information, photographs, bumper stickers, and newspaper clippings of Commissioner John White, dating 1952-1995, undated. Records are paper with a small amount of electronic.
Quantity: 21.8 cubic ft. and 10.38 MB (75 files)
Language: English
Repository: Texas State Archives
Sponsor: This EAD finding aid was created in cooperation with Texas Archival Resources Online.

Click here to enter the records

Other Finding Aids

A description of non-electronic records referenced in this finding aid are available at .

Organization of the Records

The records are organized into two series:

Agency History

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) was created in 1907 (House Bill 274 and Senate Joint Resolution 13, 30th Texas Legislature, Regular Session). Until then, official agricultural business had been conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History. The TDA, with headquarters in Austin, has 12 district offices-in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brenham, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Odessa, San Antonio, San Juan, Stephenville, Tyler, and Vernon. Its agriculture and consumer protection division is one of the largest in the state administration. Current duties include promoting Texas agricultural products locally, nationally, and internationally; assisting in the development of the agribusiness industry in Texas; regulating the sale, use, and disposal of pesticides and herbicides; controlling destructive plant pests and diseases; and ensuring the accuracy of all weighing or measuring devices (such as grocery scales and gas pumps) used in commercial transactions.

The TDA administers five regional centers in Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, and San Juan; four sub-offices in Amarillo, Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Tyler; three seed laboratories in Giddings, Lubbock, and Stephenville; six export pens in Brownsville, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Houston, and Laredo; six Cooperative Inspection Program Facilities in Alamo, Austin, Brownsville, Gorman, Pearsall, and Pleasanton; and a pesticide laboratory in Brenham. Agricultural programs are carried out by the Marketing and Agribusiness Development Division, Pesticide Programs Division, Producer Services Division, and Regulatory Programs Division. Supporting TDA divisions consist of Administration, Communications, General Counsel, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Internal Audit. In addition, the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service and the Texas Cooperative Inspection Program are joint federal-state programs operated by the TDA and the federal government. The statistics service provides state, district, and county estimates for major field crops, small grains, livestock, fruit, pecans, and vegetables, while the inspection program oversees the quality inspection of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and peanuts. The TDA also works in conjunction with the Agriculture Resources Protection Authority on pesticide issues, the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Inc.; the Texas Food and Fibers Commission on natural fibers development and plant food protein research, and a variety of advisory boards. Finally, the TDA administers the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority, which provides financial assistance to agriculture related businesses for the production, processing, marketing, and export of Texas agricultural products.

In 1999, the Texas Legislature decided that the state needed a Texas agricultural product promotion program to increase consumer awareness and expand the markets for Texas Agricultural products. The TDA, through the GO TEXAN Partner Program, program grants and matching funds, was determined the proper department to accomplish this goal (House Bill 2719, 76th Legislature, Regular Session). The GO TEXAN program was established to encourage the development and expansion of markets through the participation of eligible applicants who provide funds to be matched for promotional marketing programs implemented by the TDA. Specifically, the program is to develop procedures for acceptance and administration of funds received to administer the program, develop application screening and selection procedures, develop a general promotional campaign for Texas agricultural products and advertising campaigns for specific Texas products based on successful project requests, develop advertising programs and promotional materials for use by program participants, contract with media representatives to disperse promotional materials, and receive matching funds and establish internal reporting requirements. For the purposes of the program, an eligible applicant must be a state or regional organization that promotes the marketing and sale of Texas agricultural products and does not stand to profit directly from specific sales of agricultural commodities, a cooperative organization, a state agency or board that promotes the marketing and sale of agricultural products, a national organization or board that represents Texas producers and promotes the sale of Texas products, an eligible small business, or any other appropriate entity. Program monies are maintained in the general revenue fund in the GO TEXAN partner program account.

The department markets and supports the Texas wine industry through the Texas Wine Marketing Assistance Program and with funding from the Wine Industry Development Fund. In 2001 the Texas wine industry in conjunction with Texas legislators and TDA, established the Texas Wine Marketing Assistance Program (House Bill 892, 77th Legislature, Regular Session). This program was enhanced by the Wine Industry Development Fund created in 2005 (Senate Bills 1370 and 1137, 79th Legislature, Regular Session).

The TDA is headed by the Texas agriculture commissioner, one of four heads of state agencies elected by statewide ballot in Texas for a four-year term, concurrent with the gubernatorial election (prior to 1978, the term was two years before a statewide amendment in 1974 extended it to four years). John C. White is the longest-serving agriculture commissioner in Texas history, with 26 years of service 1951-1977. In 1998, Susan Combs, a fourth-generation rancher, was elected the state’s 10th commissioner of agriculture and the first woman in the state’s history to hold this position. In 2006, she was succeeded by Todd Staples, a former high school Future Farmers of America member and graduate of Texas A&M University, who was re-elected in 2010. Staples served until 2015 and was succeeded by Sid Miller.

(Sources include: Crosswell, Valerie. Texas Department of Agriculture, Handbook of Texas Online; the Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; and the Texas Department of Agriculture website; all accessed on October 8, 2018.)

Scope and Contents of the Records

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) promotes production agriculture, consumer protection, economic development, and healthy living. The majority of the records are administrative correspondence, subject files, and speeches from Commissioner Susan Combs, dating 1997-2006, undated, bulk 2000-2003. Also included are biographical information, photographs, bumper stickers, and newspaper clippings of Commissioner John White, dating 1952-1995, undated.

Commissioner Susan Combs records include administrative correspondence, subject files, and speeches from her time as commissioner (1999-2007). Topics discussed include drought and other weather-related events, professional conferences and professional agricultural organizations, food and nutrition services within Texas schools, the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative, livestock, agricultural products, wine industry, pesticides, and rural life in Texas. Correspondents include state and federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Texas Governor’s Office, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (now known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)). Records are paper with a small amount of electronic. The folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Commissioner John White records include biographical information, bumper stickers from his campaign for agriculture commissioner, newspaper clippings of White’s time as commissioner and rembrances after his retirement, and black-and-white and color photographs and negatives, dating 1952-1995, undated. The photographs of White document public appearances and events for the Department of Agriculture including photo opportunities with Governor Daniel and Governor Shivers. Also included is a copy of the funeral program held for White at the Texas State Capitol on January 27, 1995.

Electronic records described in this series were removed from physical media. Formats of the original electronic files include word processing or plain text files, photographs and graphic images, and video files. Digital files presented for public use will generally be PDF for text documents, .jpg for photographic or graphic images, and .mp4 for video files. Files in their original format are available on request; restrictions may apply.

To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.

Restrictions and Requirements

Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Because of the possibility that portions of these records, Susan Combs records, fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, certain email addresses (Texas Government Code, Section 552.137), an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552).

The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email (, or by using our web form ( Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information. If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.

Types of restricted information as listed above apply to physical and electronic records.Some electronic records will not be available through our portal due to such restrictions. Please see Archives staff for further information.

Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements
Researchers are required to use gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials.

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
Texas Department of Agriculture records, 1924-2001, undated, bulk 1960-1997, 260.33 cubic ft.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation
(Identify the item and cite the series), Texas Department of Agriculture commissioners’ records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information
Accession numbers: 2003/075, 2010/072, 2010/117, 2011/396, 2014/060, 2016/053

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by Texas Department of Agriculture on November 7, 2002; February 18 and June 25, 2010; May 26, 2011; January 14, 2014; and November 13, 2015.

Processing Information
Processed by Halley Grogan, October 2018

Powered by Preservica
©2019 Preservica