YOUR TEXAS AGRICULTURE MINUTE
Protecting the right to farm in Texas
By Gary Joiner
The challenges of farming in Texas within city limits are many.
For one, it’s not easy moving farm equipment in city traffic. There also is a continual loss of farmland to development. Those are the realities.
But several cities have added more obstacles. They are restricting or prohibiting generally accepted agricultural practices or prohibiting any agricultural use of land through their zoning and other regulations.
Those actions can be addressed. The Texas Legislature is considering solutions.
HB 1750 by Rep. DeWayne Burns of Johnson County strengthens protections for agricultural operations within city limits.
Farmers are being forced to cut hay before it reaches the proper height because some cities don’t recognize that hay is a crop. They consider hay to be tall grass that must be kept mowed short. Some cities are also enforcing these height restrictions on grass being grazed by livestock.
Ranchers are being forced to remove their cattle or face legal action due to zoning restrictions that prohibit agricultural use of land. Staging equipment, inputs or harvested commodities are also being restricted or prohibited as illegal “onsite storage.”
Current law only protects agricultural operations annexed after Aug. 31, 1981. Trying to verify with a city which operations were annexed has proven to be a challenge.
As a result of this confusion, cities are enforcing ordinances and zoning against all agricultural operations without following the requirement in current law to prove a governmental requirement is necessary to protect public health.
The right to farm in Texas is important. The Texas Legislature can make sure that right is protected within city limits.
The preceding commentary is brought to you by Texas Farm Bureau, the “Voice of Texas Agriculture.” Called “Your Texas Agriculture Minute,” TFB will issue thought-provoking editorials each week—via print and audio—to spark understanding of agriculture in the Lone Star State and its impact on each and every Texan.
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