RGV Farmers: De La Garza Shaped Local Agriculture Industry

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MERCEDES - Rio Grande Valley farmers are remembering the man who was their voice for many years.

Former U.S. Congressman Eligio “Kika” De La Garza, who passed away Monday at the age of 89, had a major impact on the Valley’s agriculture industry.

Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr and a former aid of U.S. Congressman Ruben Hinojosa confirmed his death.

De La Garza was well known for authoring bills to protect wetlands, create state-sponsored preschools and build more international bridges to Mexico.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with local citrus growers who said he’s the reason there’s still such strong produce industry in the Valley.

“He and his wife were always very friendly. They were always wanting to get involved in activities and he was just a great friend,” said citrus farmer Fred Karle.

Karle said he saw firsthand how De La Garza helped shaped the agriculture industry he’s currently part of.

“Kika was a real friend of the agriculture industry in the Valley. He was instrumental in getting a lot of the funding for various agriculture programs that farmers participate in,” he said.

The citrus farmer said Kika had a stronger impact with citrus farming.

“(He was) instrumental in helping Texas Citrus Mutual get the crop and tree insurance, especially tree insurance, not only here in the Valley but in Florida and California,” said Karle.

During the 80s, many growers lost trees during a freeze. Karle said the program De La Garza pushed for helped many growers bounce back from tough times.

Karle said De La Garza was a great friend and agriculture advocate who will be greatly missed.

Kika De La Garza served in the Texas House of Representative from 1952 to 1964. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 1965 and served until 1996.

From 1955 to 1957, he was the only Hispanic member of the Texas House.


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