While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Teresa Palomo Acosta

FARM PLACEMENT SERVICE OF TEXAS. The Farm Placement Service of Texas, which started in the mid-1930s, was an outgrowth of the federal government's Farm Placement Service, which had been set up in Fort Worth in 1919. Though the federal Farm Placement Service operated for only forty-five days during its initial year to oversee the hiring of farm workers for the state's wheat harvest, it continued to function in Texas for the next several decades, eventually passing its role to the state. The Farm Placement Service helped stabilize the farmers' search for workers and the workers' search for employment. Before the establishment of the federal Farm Placement Service, both groups had operated through labor agents, whose major interest was financial. In 1916, even before the national government moved in to regulate the agricultural labor market, the state's commissioner of labor had recommended that Texas manage the market to eliminate waste and promote better hiring practices. The Farm Placement Service was principally concerned with finding workers for the cotton harvest, though it covered vegetable and fruit crops as well. By 1925 it had set up farm-labor recruitment offices in Brownsville, Houston, Lubbock, and other cities. To accomplish its work, the Farm Placement Service sent staff members out to survey crop-harvest needs and to determine available housing for the workers. Many businesses assisted it, and chambers of commerce provided it with free telephone service. After congressional passage in 1933 of the Wagner-Payser Act, which reorganized the country's employment services, the federal government discontinued its direct operation of the Farm Placement Service, and in 1935 the program was subsumed under the newly organized Employment Service of Texas.

Once under the state's jurisdiction, the Farm Placement Service coordinated the pool of agricultural workers through a system of local offices that directed strategies for meeting regional needs. Each district supervisor maintained a calendar of seasonal labor requirements for harvesting various crops. In 1939 the Farm Placement Service could boast that it had placed just over half a million workers throughout the state in that year alone. The service also joined forces with the Federal Farm Security Administration to set up labor camps for agricultural workers in Raymondville, Robstown, Sinton, Weslaco, and other Texas towns. By June 1945 forty-one towns in the state had established these camps, which were also known as "reception centers." The camps generally provided wood, water, and toilets for workers during the harvest. Other camps offered other features. For example, at the Robstown site, which could serve up to 1,200 individuals, two types of shelters were available. One-room apartments that accommodated five people rented for $1.25 a week, and occupants were provided with community showers, baths, toilets, and a laundry room. In the same camp a small number of four-room houses with private baths were available for larger families at a cost of $2.25 a week. Some of the camps were still in operation under a different guise in the 1990s. The one at Weslaco, for instance, had been transformed into an apartment complex for farmworkers under the control of the Farmer Home Administration, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture. In the mid-1970s, after some thirty-five years as a separate program, the Farm Placement Service was disbanded, and its services were integrated into the regular job-placement programs of the Texas Employment Commission. In the early 1990s the agency reported placing agricultural workers both in Texas and out of state at an annual rate of 25 to 28 percent.


Everett Ross Clinchy, Jr., Equality of Opportunity for Latin-Americans in Texas (New York: Arno Press, 1974). George Otis Coalson, The Development of the Migratory Farm Labor System in Texas, 1900–1954 (San Francisco: R&E Research Associates, 1977). Pauline Rochester Kibbe, Latin Americans in Texas (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1946).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Teresa Palomo Acosta, "FARM PLACEMENT SERVICE OF TEXAS," accessed July 10, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/aafcm.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 4, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...