Helping aspiring farmers to afford land
The Young and Military Veterans Tax Relief bills (HB 950 and SB 330) help address the problem of our aging farmer population by allowing young beginning farmers and military veterans to qualify for agricultural valuation on their land after one year of farming, instead of having to pay high taxes while waiting for five years.
The bill passed the Senate on March 29, and had a very positive hearing before the House Agriculture Committee on April 13, but now seems to have stalled out. PLEASE help us move this important bill forward!
High property taxes represent a major start-up cost for new farmers. Texas law provides that land used primarily for raising food is taxed at a lower rate, but not only must the land be used principally for agriculture, it must have been used that way for at least 5 of the preceding 7 years.
If a new farmer buys land that is already in agricultural valuation, this is not a problem. But a farmer seeking to start a farm on land that has been allowed to fall out of agricultural use faces 5 years of paying taxes as if the land were to be developed.
The high taxes during the farm start-up period are aggravated by several factors:
- Farming requires a significant investment to buy land and get started, but it does not pay dividends for years. Cattle take time to grow to market weight, orchards take years to bear fruit, and soil takes years to improve to provide good harvests.
- Most farms have a very small profit margin, and many beginning farms operate at a net loss.
SB 330 and HB 950 address this issue by reducing the waiting period for agricultural valuation to one year for:
- Military veterans who become farmers; and
- Young, beginning farmers, defined as those under the age of 35 who have not been the principal operator of a farm for more than ten years.
The young farmers & military veterans will still have to meet the normal requirements for agricultural valuation, namely that the principal use of the property is agricultural to the degree of intensity generally accepted in the area. This bill just expedites the process, so that they don’t have to pay high taxes for the first 5 years of farming.
Call or email your State Representative to urge him or her to support HB 950 and SB 330 and help move the bill forward. A phone call has the greatest impact, just remember to keep the conversation polite and to-the-point.
You can find out who your representative is by going to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or calling the Texas Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.
If you call after hours, you can leave a message:
“Hi, my name is ____, and I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Representative ______ to co-author HB 950/SB 330, the Tax Relief for Young and Veteran Farmers Bill, and to help the bill move forward as quickly as possible.”
If you prefer email, your Representative’s email address is FirstName.LastName@house.texas.gov
Take Action #2:
Is your Representative a member of the House Agriculture Committee?
We need the House Agriculture Committee to vote to approve the bill. If you live in any of the Committee members’ districts, it is vital that you call them now – and encourage everyone you know in the district to call as well! These 7 people hold the fate of the bill in their hands.
If you are not a constituent, please focus on contacting your own Representative and urging him or her to co-author, in the first action item. The Committee members will be most influenced by their own constituents.
- Chairman Tracy King: Dimmit, Frio, Uvalde, Webb (part), Zapata, Zavala Counties. Email: King@house.texas.gov. Phone: 512-463-0194
- Charles “Doc” Anderson: McLennan County (part). Email: Anderson@house.texas.gov. Phone: 512-463-0135
- Dustin Burrows: Borden, Gaines, Lubbock (part), Lynn, Mitchell, Scurry, Terry Counties. Email: Burrows@house.texas.gov. Phone: 512-463-0542
- John Cyrier: Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes, Lee Counties. Email: Cyrier@house.texas.gov. Phone: 512-463-0682
- Matt Rinaldi: Dallas County (part). Email: Rinaldi@house.texas.gov
- Lynn Stucky: Denton County (part). Email: Stucky@house.texas.gov. Phone: 512-463-0582
If you live in Rep. Mary Gonzalez’ district (part of El Paso County), tell her thank you for joint authoring the bill! Email: Mary.Gonzalez@house.texas.gov
If you’re not sure who represents you, go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us