Farmers split on Proposition 1, which would protect Texas farms from municipal regulations

Proposition 1 is a constitutional amendment on the November ballot.
Published: Oct. 29, 2023 at 8:51 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2023 at 12:07 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Voters are taking up Proposition 1 now, which supporters say protects the right to farm in Texas.

Some agricultural organizations say this constitutional amendment would greatly benefit small farmers and ranchers, while others feel it could harm them.

Proposition 1 aims to protect farmers and ranchers from municipal regulations when a city grows and annexes their land into its jurisdiction.

The Executive Director of Government Relations at the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Melissa Hamilton, said it’s about understanding Texas is growing and preparing for the future.

“This is about just understanding the importance of agriculture in our state and trying to make sure that there’s a source of food, clothing and shelter for now and years to come,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said more people will need the food and fiber Texas agriculture provides as Texas grows. She says with cities expanding, it’s making that harder to do.

“While there are more mouths to feed, more people to shelter, right, there’s less and less land to do that,” Hamilton said.

The Texas Farm Bureau President, Russell Boening, said land is annexed into the city limits years before it’s developed, and until that happens he said land can still be productive.

“It’s going to be developed eventually, but it’s important that he [a farmer] continue to be there because you can’t just pick up and move your operation. It’s difficult,” Boening said.

Boening told KCBD Proposition 1 would allow that by stopping municipal regulations from being passed on to the farmer.

“When they pass an ordinance, it needs to be backed by a threat to public health or public safety,” Boening said.

Doug Havemann with the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance said it would immediately fix these problems farmers like himself are dealing with but would bring long-term problems.

“What it doesn’t do is limit the factory farms and the multinational farms from getting the same benefits,” Havemann said.

When these factory farms move in, Havemann said it brings problems like degrading property values, and could cause run-off to neighboring small farms and ranches.

“I really think our legislators need to rewrite this and make it right for Texas farms and ranches, and exclude those factory farms from this piece,” Havemann said.

Hamilton said proposition one does include agriculture operations of any size, but if it becomes a problem, the constitutional amendment leaves room for change.

“The legislature can still legislate, and agencies can still regulate when it’s for public health and safety, and also for conservation and the environment,” Hamilton said.

Havemann says the operations he’s talking about use generally accepted practices that would fall under the protection. He says if Proposition 1 passes, local governments will lose all authority to regulate them, and neighboring small farms will be left to take on these factory farms alone.

On Monday, Oct. 30, the Texas Farm Bureau released the following statement:

Texas Farm Bureau says the assertion that local governments will lose the ability to regulate area farms following the passage of Proposition 1 is completely false.

The amendment specifically recognizes that “generally accepted” practices can be regulated to protect the public from imminent danger.

And it recognizes that the current authority of the legislature to protect animal health, protect a danger to crops, and protect natural resources still applies.

Early voting continues until Nov. 3, and Election Day is Nov. 7.