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Ag exemption for property tax

Frank Turrentine

Joined: Nov 12, 2012
Posts: 73
One of my principal concerns moving forward with the farm is property taxes.

Dad bought the land in 1985, and his property taxes the first year were something like two or three hundred bucks. This year they're closer to four grand with an added chunk of about three grand in a separate bill from the school district to fund large new schools, which are primarily driven by the locals' desire to compete in 5A athletics with the larger urban areas in Texas. They might say that's not it, but everyone knows that's what's up. It's really ridiculous in Parker County, Texas. The Chamber of Commerce has heavily advertized the area as a great place to move in order to enjoy a rural lifestyle close to the DFW metroplex - the largest landlocked metro area in the US now. As a result of this, there is really less and less of a rural lifestyle left anymore, and Weatherford (the county seat and only sizable city in the county) and the surrounding area have become more or less a bedroom community to the western edge of the metroplex. We are outside the city limits at the far western edge of the county, but we still get hit with county taxes. And ours are apparently a tad higher because there is a county road on both ends of our place. It dead-ends against the little panhandle of land that goes down to the river's edge in back. I don't know if that last part is accurate, but dad said it the other day in a particularly lucid moment.

Anyway, I'm researching ag exemptions, because apparently that would reduce our tax burden down to just a few hundred dollars per year, which is a pretty dramatic savings and worth a little trouble. The problem with that is that it is governed by how the place is used. And I'm wondering if a permaculture food forest would even be considered, given the mindset of our neighbors. People in our neck of the woods, as far as I can tell, are pretty conventional in their methods and practices. I would rather not devote any of the property to conventional, even organic, production ag. I'm convinced there should be a way to legitimately apply and receive an exemption, but I'm just beginning to explore this stuff and don't really know my way around it.

Here's one site I found this evening that explains some of the requirements:

I guess what I'm asking is does anyone here in the forums, specifically in Texas, I guess, have any experience with this? Any ideas?
Saybian Morgan

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
Orchardist is the nomenclature you have to use to qualify for ag acknowledgement without mondo mono cultural fields.
You gotta be very careful about sounding like a regular person, wowing them with permaculture may make you appear sketch in your district.
Basically they need to equate money to what your doing so your food forest is a simple mix of orchard growing of fruit tree's mixed with long term timber.
Those two categories don't have any high scrutiny like talking about meat or consumables, even bee's drag you into pasteurization standards.
You escape having to produce instant visuals or financials because of the long term investment everybody understand comes with trees, in the mean time you sell free range eggs if that's legal as pest control and weed management.

It's just about finding something your already doing that qualifies you as engaging in standard farming of one kind or another, a hatchery is still farming. After that just close off everything else your truly doing as experimental, nobody can say your a flake these days for making compost for your business.

Frank Turrentine

Joined: Nov 12, 2012
Posts: 73
I planned on selling a few pounds of pecans at the produce market before the end of the year, even though they're only giving fifty cents per pound, just for the bill of sale. Plus, we have recods of the fruit tree purchases going back several years and the fire in 2010 to account for no sales of fruit prior to this.

Thank you for the clarity!
Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5727
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
We got Agricultural appraisal for our land and subsequently Wildlife Management appraisal. It takes a long time. One needs to practice agriculture of some kind for five out of seven years, then apply. Once you get ag status for one year you can apply for Wildlife Management status, which has the same tax status as ag. It may be more difficult to obtain Ag status by growing plants than by raising animals. But if you feel you have been practicing ag for five of seven years, I encourage you to apply and see what happens. You can always try again and if you don't get it this time, they'll tell you what to do to qualify next time.

More info about the process:

Idle dreamer

Frank Turrentine

Joined: Nov 12, 2012
Posts: 73
I'm thinking it might be worth retaining a local attorney to streamline this if they only charge a few hundred bucks. I'll read over the requirements first and call a few to see how much they'd charge for that.
subject: Ag exemption for property tax