Texas Houses passes right to farm protections if land is annexed

Package protects producers right to farm and ranch in the city limits if their land is annexed.
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Texas House just passed a constitutional amendment and two bills that would protect producers’ right to farm within the city when land is annexed.

The package includes the Constitutional Right to Farm (House Joint Resolution 126), the Right to Farm in the City (HB 1750), and the Right to Farm Protection from Frivolous Lawsuits (HB 2308). The Texas Farm Bureau State Director, Walt Hagood, said producers across the state have been dealing with city regulations hindering their ability to farm.

“We can’t grow food if they run us off the farm,” Hagood said.

This is happening because cities are growing. As they do, some will annex the land around them, expanding the city limits, and forcing some farmers to follow regulations that are new to them.

“When the city gets out there, then they put regulations on the farms that are already in existence,” Hagood said.

Hagood offered one example of what a farmer experienced in Dallas while trying to grow a hay crop.

“Once the grass gets so high, it has to be mowed. So, they would come and treat the hay field the same way,” Hagood said. “They’d say, ‘You got to mow that.’ If they don’t, they’re going to mow it and send you the bill.”

Part of the Right to Farm protections’ package would protect producers against lawsuits from other citizens.

“‘Your farm over there, you know that we live next to, your animals are putting off odor or something like that.’ So, if the farm was there in the beginning they knew when they moved out there that there were animals there.”

Another part of the package would require municipal governments to prove that any law or regulation they’re pushing on annexed farmers would protect the public health. Hagood said this means it will be safe to have a farmer as your neighbor.

“There’s actually rue in the bill to take care of any bad actors,” Hagood said. “So, is there’s anything happening that shouldn’t be happening, the city can monitor that.”

Hagood said these protections will help keep safe food in the grocery stores for customers by keeping farms running in the United States.

“We’re under regulation like it is, so our food supply is very safe, but we don’t have any idea what people are doing in other countries,” Hagood said.

As for Lubbock, Hagood says there are some regulations for farmers in city limits once land is annexed, but it is still a farmer-friendly town.

The constitutional amendment and bill will head to the Senate next. If it passes, the governor has to sign it and it goes to a vote in November.