Business and Finance Division
Agribusiness, Land & Minerals Department
The Crops and Equipment Sections include direct production of field crops for use within our system. Field crops include grain, and hay which are processed and fed to livestock; and cotton which is transferred to agency textile mills to make clothing and bedding. Edible crops are produced and transferred primarily to food service. These vegetables are sent from the fields directly to the kitchens to be prepared for meals or sent to the canning plant for processing.
The Crops and Equipment Section also includes several support service areas comprised of Farm Shops, Harvesting Operations, Plant Maintenance Operations, and Pest Control.
Annually, Agribusiness plants approximately 4,280 acres of edible crops suitable for fresh and canning purposes. Approximately 24 different types are planted and harvested annually, with much of the production being used in the unit kitchens as fresh vegetables. The balance of the production is used in the canning plant located on the Terrell Unit. The canned products are used in the Food Services Department and distributed to units across the state. Local Food Banks are utilized for excess vegetables.
The TDCJ Field Crop Program produces corn, grain sorghum, oats, cotton and hay at 18 different farms encompassing nearly 32,000 acres throughout Texas. Annually, we produce an average of 70 million pounds of grain and 16,000 tons of hay. Most of the grain and hay is consumed by our swine, poultry and cattle operations, which in turn produce meat and eggs that are fed to inmates. We annually produce approximately 200 tons of dehydrated alfalfa that is used in our livestock feed rations. Also, enough cotton is produced annually to meet the requirements of agency textile mills where it is used to produce clothing, bed linens and towels for inmates.
The Harvesting Section maintains harvesting equipment consisting of grain combines, several cotton strippers, green bean pickers, and self-propelled carrot harvesters. Additionally, 3 large Terra-gator sprayers are in the inventory of equipment in order to accommodate pasture spraying.
The Harvesting Section is located on the Central Unit in Sugar Land, Texas. In this shop, the harvesting equipment is maintained and repaired as needed, equipment operators are assigned and trained, and equipment movement throughout the state is coordinated to accommodate the timely harvest of all crops.
The plant maintenance operations provide the preventative maintenance and repairs for two feed mills, two cotton gins, six grain dryer/grain storage facilities and an alfalfa dehydrator which are located at various farms around the state. They provide a hands-on learning environment for offenders. While working under the supervision of agency employees, the offenders gain valuable mechanical experience, which gives them skills and knowledge for employment in a related field upon release.
The agency employs two entomologists to assist unit agriculture personnel in insect scouting, identification, and control in crops and stored grain, as well as assisting with controlling livestock pests. The entomologists are a vital part of the crop planning process, offering recommendations to crop managers regarding various insecticide options for each crop to be planted. Throughout the year the entomologists work to protect crops through scouting and sampling.
The entomologists also manage the structural pest control program within the agency’s buildings and facilities. They oversee eight pest control officers located throughout the state. These officers operate with a crew of offenders implementing structural pest control procedures on a regular basis in most facilities.