News Article | December 16, 2022
Event examines the strengths and needs of rural Texas
The Texas Tribune hosted a two-day symposium in November that surveyed the strengths and needs of rural Texas ahead of next year's legislative session and beyond. Held on the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock, "The Future of Rural Texas" featured a series of panel discussions with state lawmakers, local elected officials and leaders in education, health care, telecommunications, economic development and natural resources.
Participants underscored rural Texas' crucial contributions to the nation's and the world's food, fiber and energy supplies throughout the event, which the Texas Association of Counties helped sponsor. Nearly 2,000 people joined the conference either in person or online.
"The through line of this conference is that rural is Texas and Texas is rural — always has been, always will be," Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune's CEO and co-founder, said.
While the state's population grew by 4 million people between 2010 and 2020, more than half of Texas counties, all of them rural, lost population, further decreasing the percentage of Texans who live in a farming or ranching part of the state. Even so, Smith said, more than 3 million people still live in rural Texas. If rural Texas were its own state, he noted, it would be the 33rd largest state in the nation.
"Rural Texans deserve, have earned and have a right to expect so much more than they're getting," he said.
Videos of the event's panel discussions are available for viewing on The Texas Tribune's YouTube channel.