He said if industry provides a service, TDA will not try to duplicate it. “We want to eliminate overlaps,” he said.

Staples said TDA lost 120 positions with the budget cuts and have begun to “cross-train field staff to increase efficiency.”

He said regulatory missions of TDA have not been significantly compromised. “Much of the regulatory work is fee-based,” he said. “We did have to close some seed labs, however.”

TDA has realigned departments to Food and Nutrition, Trade and Business Development and Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The state legislature also moved the Department of Rural Affairs into TDA.

Staples said the Texas economy is recovering with significant job growth. “We’re no longer talking about double-dip recession.”

He did warn against over-regulation from the federal government that could hamper productivity and energy production.

He praised the U.S. Congress for passing free trade pacts. “Trade means jobs,” he said. He expressed concern about troubles with Mexico, Texas’ most important trading partner. “Mexico is having problems,” he said. “It is important to maintain the dynamic border area but the safety and security of farms and ranches along the border is essential.”

He also credited the Texas Legislature for the “best session for Texas landowners.” Key legislation included limitations on eminent domain and derailing plans for a Trans Texas Corridor, a controversial transportation system that would have taken millions of acres out of agricultural production.

Staples told the group that when he left from Austin to travel to College Station his wife told him that she was sorry he had to drive in the rain. “But I don’t think it’s ever bad to drive in the rain in Texas,” he quipped.

He said recent rainfall had put smiles back on many faces but the state needs more. “Until rain fills up the stock tanks, streams and reservoirs the downstream users will not get enough water,” he said. “Moisture is important to the state’s economy.”

Staples said agriculture remains a crucial part of the Texas economy and praised farmers and ranchers for their contributions to the public good. “Agriculture is the reason we’re prosperous today,” he said.