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NAME:Sid Miller
COMPANY:Texas Department of Agriculture
POSITION:Agriculture Commissioner
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has transformed the Department of Agriculture from having a deficit of US$18 million to balancing the books and feeding millions of school children.

There’s not much in agriculture that Sid Miller hasn’t experienced. “I’ve grown just about every crop that grows in Texas and raised just about every kind of livestock,” explains Miller, the elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Since his ancestors left Ireland in 1700 and came to America, working in farming and ranching has been their living.

While the experiences Miller gained in industry, doing everything from raising dairy cattle to running a hog operation, prove invaluable today, a very different skill set is needed to oversee the US$6 billion budget of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

“I took over the agency and nine years ago it was upside down. It was US$18 million in the red. But I got that fixed and completely revamped the agency.”

“It’s not a small operation. We do everything related to agriculture, but we’re also the Consumer Protection Agency for the state and run the Office of Rural Healthcare, which makes sure that healthcare is delivered in 191 rural counties across our state,” he adds.

Now a fourth-generation Texan, Miller has drawn on his experience starting and running several successful small businesses from day one of his role as Commissioner.

“I took over the agency and nine years ago it was upside down. It was US$18 million in the red. But I got that fixed and completely revamped the agency.”

Social Good

Of all the programs Miller is proud to have put in place, the helpline for at-risk farmers ranks right at the top. The AgriStress Helpline is open 365 days a year and is staffed by people who are well-versed in agriculture and can offer not just someone to talk to but information on grants or low-interest loans for those who need them most.

“People are sometimes shocked that farmers are right up there with veterans when it comes to suicide rates,” explains Miller. “We’ve been running that a little over a year now and so far we’ve saved over 170 lives.”

“Commissioner Miller is committed to helping Texas farmers, ranchers and producers find markets outside of the United States for their products. He understands the importance of international business to the Texas economy and is a great partner to SUSTA.” – Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, Executive Director, Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA)


Even during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller and his team were able to innovate their services to support those impacted by lockdown restrictions. More than six million school meals were served daily through the Department’s programs to students, but overnight Miller had to figure out how to feed these kids at home.

“We reconstructed the way we delivered the meals so we upheld our promise to Texas students. Nutritious meals, crafted from locally sourced agriculture products, were distributed curbside or loaded onto school buses for home delivery,” he explains.

The project was an instant win for students, taxpayers and farmers, thanks to the link created between farmers and schools who want to buy local produce, resulting in schools buying US$65 million worth of locally grown products last year.

Supply Chain Competence

Championing farmers and local produce sits at the heart of everything Miller works towards. When developing relationships with partners, there’s one word that Miller focuses on: communication.

“You can’t develop a relationship unless you communicate and work together. And that’s how we’ve built a worldwide marketing program and have built great relationships with all the agricultural groups,” he reveals.

Collaborating with the Southern United States Trade Association, a non-profit group that supports small American companies to build relationships with overseas importers, has proved vital to ensuring Texan farmers have a global market to access.

Trade missions to China, with a range of organizations including the Texas Association of Dairymen and Texan Pecan Growers Association, are one method Miller uses to expand the market. “I took the Pecan Growers with me over to China and managed to get the tariff floor lowered from 35 percent to 10 percent,” he explains.

“You can’t develop a relationship unless you communicate and work together.”

According to Miller, the results of effective communication speaks for itself.

“We’ve increased our agriculture exports, expanded our customer base and avoided pitfalls other states have had to endure, like tariffs.”

While tariffs have impacted Texan farmers, they have been able to diversify their buyers and succeed in a challenging global market.

“Being nimble and able to move quickly, which is very hard for government entities to do, is how we’ve succeeded,” Miller concludes.

Next Gen

With the average age of farmers and ranchers in Texas now 60 years, Miller is working with the Texas Future Farmers of America to attract younger people to the profession.

“We’ve got to have new farmers coming along and getting involved in agriculture. When America was founded, 98 percent of the people were farmers, now it is less than 2 percent.

“The challenge for farmers is that we continually have to learn to produce more with less inputs. We’re in a new age now.”

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