Senator Rodríguez passes tax break for veterans and young farmers from Senate

Austin – Senator José Rodríguez on Wednesday passed from the full Senate S.B. 330, which makes it easier for land owned by veterans and young beginning farmers to qualify for agricultural property tax valuation, which saves farmers several hundred to several thousand dollars in property taxes and makes new farms more attractive to investors.   Currently, land must be in agricultural use five years before qualifying for agricultural valuation.  S.B. 330 creates an exception for veterans and young farmers.

“Texas needs young farmers for the viability of the agricultural industry and to help preserve land,” Sen. Rodríguez said.  “The average Texas farmers is 60 years old.  Only six percent of farmers are under age 35.  But young people and returning military veterans are discouraged from entering farming in part because they simply can’t afford to wait for agricultural valuation.”

Access to affordable is the number one barrier to entry for new farmers.  Farming has high startup costs and often doesn’t pay profits for years.  SB 330 supports veterans in particular, who often face substantial barriers transitioning to civilian employment.  Over a third of Texas’ veterans live in rural areas, and a staggering 26.9 percent of rural veterans are unemployed.

Agricultural land is valued based on how much money is made selling cultivated products, rather than the land’s development value.  If not classified agricultural, property valuation may be increased at speculative rates.  This inability to predict taxes with certainty discourages private investment. 

Keeping land in agricultural use benefits local governments because such land requires less infrastructure and services. Plus, farms promote aquifer recharge, reduce flooding, and promote the economy. 

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José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; Veteran Affairs and Border Security; and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Vice Chair).

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