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Texas legislature passes new ag bills

The 2023 Texas Legislative Session included the passage of many new laws that will impact rural Texas landowners and the state's producers.

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Agricultural Law

May 31, 2024

2 Min Read
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Shelley E. Huguley

From property taxes to landowner liability, cell-cultured meat labeling to the Right to Farm, the 2023 Texas Legislative Session included several new laws important for rural Texas landowners and agricultural producers.

I recently wrote a paper explaining each of these laws for the State Bar of Texas John Huffaker Agricultural Law Continuing Legal Education course. To read the paper, click here.

Key bills of which Texas landowners and agricultural producers should be aware include:

  • Texas Right to Farm statute amendments (HB 1750, HB 2308, HB 2947) – Modified the time in operation requirement and expanded the types of claims for which this statue may be a defense; significantly limited situations in which cities can impose requirements on agricultural operations within their bounds. Read more here.

  • Texas Right to Farm Constitutional Amendment (HJR 126) – Passed by Texas voters with 79% of the vote in November to create a constitutional right to “engaged in generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, or wildlife management practices on property they own or lease.”

  • Additional limitation on liability for agricultural landowners (HB 73) – Expands liability protection beyond damage or injury caused by actions of law enforcement officers or firefighters to include injuries or damage caused by trespassers.  Read more here.

  • “Fake meat” labeling (SB 664) – Requires analogue and cell-cultured products to be labeled as such.  A lawsuit is currently challenging this law.  Read more here.

  • Program to compensate landowners for property damage from criminal activity (SB 1133) – Creates a program for agricultural owners to seek compensation for damage caused during the commission of a “border crime” on their land.  The Attorney General’s Office recently released information on the program and how to file a claim here.

  • Limiting the use of weapons in navigable streams (SB 1236) – Prohibits the use of certain weapons in navigable streams.

  • Continuation of open space valuation for land transferred to surviving spouse (HB 2354) – When property changes ownership, the County Appraisal District requires a new landowner to fill out paperwork for the land to continue to receive open space property tax valuation.  This bill makes clear that land transferred to a surviving spouse does not constitute a “change in ownership” for which this paperwork is required.

  • Late applications for open space valuation following the death of landowner (SB 1191) Requires County Appraisal District to accept and act on late-filed open space valuation application in certain situations involving the death of the landowner.

  • Creation of business courts (HB 19) – Creation of specialty courts to handle certain business disputes with the amount in controversy over $5 million.

  • Texas Regulatory Consistency Act (HB 2127) – Law prohibiting cities and counties from enacting local requirements that exceed or conflict with certain codes (including the Agricultural Code).  A Travis County Court found this law unconstitutional in August 2023, and that decision is currently on appeal.

Related:Where are the best places to farm in U.S.?

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About the Author(s)

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Agricultural Law, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet is Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Agricultural Law, Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics.

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