Pass fair property taxes for small farmers!

 

The issue of property taxes, while not fun, is vital for many farmers.  Small farmers who have been denied agricultural valuation of their land face thousands of extra dollars in extra taxes — a cost that they cannot readily absorb with their narrow profit margins.

Texas statutory law provides for “agricultural valuation” of land used primarily for raising food, lowering property taxes for farmers.  But local counties authorities have unfairly excluded some small farmers  due to bias against sustainable farming methods, urban farms, and even vegetable production!

HB 1900 by Representative Eddie Rodriguez and SB 1581 by Senator Zaffirini provide for fair, consistent application of agricultural valuation for all types of farmers.  The bills:

  1. Specify that fruit and vegetable production qualify as “agricultural uses.”  There have been multiple cases of county tax assessors asserting that growing vegetables isn’t agriculture.
  2. Direct tax appraisers to consider the type of production used, including organic and sustainable methods such as rotational grazing, in determining the degree of intensity of use necessary to qualify.
  3. Include nonprofit community gardens as “agricultural uses.”
  4. Direct the Comptroller, in consultation with stakeholders, to develop guidelines to address under what conditions community gardens, small tracts, and diversified farms qualify for agricultural valuation.

To qualify, the landowner will still have show that the land is devoted principally to agricultural use, and has been for at least five of the last seven years.  These bills simply ensure that people who should already qualify for agricultural valuation under the Texas Constitution are not inappropriately excluded by local authorities.

HB 1900 was approved by the House Agriculture Committee on April 14, 2015.

Take Action

1)  Call the members of the Calendars Committee, and urge them to schedule HB 1900 for a vote of the full House as soon as possible. The Committee members are listed below. If you  live in one of their districts, be sure to mention that you are a constituent — it makes a difference!

Note that Rep. Eddie Rodriguez is on the Calendars Committee, but we are not including him in the chart because he is the author of HB 1900.  If you do call his office, tell him how much you appreciate his fighting for our farmers!

2)  Call  your State Senator, and urge him or her to co-author SB 1581 and to help move it forward as soon as possible. You can find out who represents at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.

 

House Calendars Committee
First Name Last Name Phone Counties Represented Zip Codes Represented
Todd Hunter 512-463-0672 Nueces (part) 78343, 78373, 78401, 78404, 78407, 78411, 78412, 78413, 78414, 78415, 78417, 78418, 78419
Eddie Lucio III 512-463-0606 Cameron (part) 78520, 78521, 78526, 78550, 78552, 78559, 78566, 78575, 78583, 78586
Roberto Alonzo 512-463-0408 Dallas (part) 75050, 75051, 75052, 75060, 75203, 75208, 75211, 75212, 75216, 75224, 75233
Byron Cook 512-463-0730 Anderson, Freestone, Hill, Navarro 75102, 75105, 75109, 75110, 75119, 75144, 75153, 75155, 75751, 75763, 75766, 75770, 75785, 75801, 75803, 75831, 75838, 75839, 75840, 75844, 75853, 75855, 75859, 75860, 75861, 76050, 76055, 76093, 76621, 76622, 76626,  76627, 76631, 76634, 76636, 76639, 76641, 76645, 76648, 76660, 76666, 76670, 76673, 76676, 76679, 76681, 76692, 76693
Sarah Davis 512-463-0389 Harris (part) 77002, 77004, 77005, 77006, 77007, 77008, 77019, 77024, 77025, 77027, 77030, 77046, 77056, 77057, 77081, 77096, 77098, 77401
Charlie Geren 512-463-0610 Tarrant (part) 76020, 76052, 76071, 76107, 76108, 76114, 76116, 76127, 76131, 76135, 76179
Helen Giddings 512-463-0953 Dallas (part) 75104, 75115, 75125, 75134, 75141, 75146, 75154, 75159, 75172, 75180, 75216, 75217, 75232, 75241, 75249, 75253
Patricia Harless 512-463-0496 Harris (part) 77014, 77064, 77066, 77067, 77068, 77069, 77070, 77086, 77375, 77379
Dan Huberty 512-463-0520 Harris (part) 77044, 77336, 77338, 77339, 77345, 77346, 77357, 77365, 77373, 77386, 77532
Eric Johnson 512-463-0586 Dallas (part) 75149, 75150, 75201, 75203, 75207, 75210, 75212, 75214, 75215, 75216, 75218, 75223, 75224, 75226, 75227, 75228
Ken King 512-463-0736 Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Castro, Cochran, Donley, Gray, Hale, Hansford, Hemphill, Hockley, Lamb, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Roberts, Swisher, Yoakum 79005, 79014, 79019, 79027, 79031, 79034, 79039, 79040, 79041, 79042, 79043, 79045, 79046, 79052, 79056, 79057, 79059, 79062, 79064, 79065, 79063, 79065, 79070, 79072, 79081, 79082, 79085, 79088, 79094, 79097, 79226, 79237, 79240, 79250, 79255, 79257, 79311, 79312, 79313, 79323, 79324, 79326, 79336, 79339, 79344, 79347, 79353, 79355, 79358, 79363, 79371, 79346, 79379, 79382, 79407
Lyle Larson 512-463-0646 Bexar (part) 78006, 78015, 78023, 78216, 78230, 78231, 78232, 78248, 78249, 78255, 78256, 78257, 78258, 78260, 78261
Four Price 512-463-0470 Carson, Hutchinson, Moore, Potter, Sherman 79007, 79029, 79036, 79039, 79058, 79068, 79080, 79083, 79084, 79086, 79097, 79101, 79102, 79103, 79104, 79106, 79107, 79108, 79109, 79111, 79118, 79121, 79124, 79178, 73949
Debbie Riddle 512-463-0572 Harris (part) 77068, 77073, 77090, 77338, 77354, 77365, 77373, 77375, 77379, 77380, 77388, 77389
Eddie Rodriguez 512-463-0674 Travis (part) 78610, 78612, 78617, 78621, 78640, 78653, 78701, 78702, 78704, 78719, 78721, 78724, 78725, 78741, 78742, 78744, 78745, 78747

 

 

HB 1900 and SB 1581 are supported by the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Texas Certified Farmers Market Association, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Sustainable Food Center, Food Policy Council of San Antonio, Slow Food Austin, Farm and Food Coalition (East Texas Community Food Coalition), Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Weston A. Price Foundation, Homegrown Revival, and the Houston Food Policy Workgroup.