Texas Agriculture Regulations
Emerging Regulatory News
Video explains Texas land categories, values
The Property Tax Assistance Division of the Texas Comptroller’s office has produced a new video entitled, “Open-Space Land: What is it and how is it appraised?”
This video provides an overview of the legal requirements for appraising open-space land. The video includes a detailed explanation of how to designate land categories and how to calculate net-to-land values based on share and cash lease information. Landowners will find the presentation both informative and relevant.
Comptroller releases 2013 capitalization rates
Tax Code Sections 23.53 and 23.74 provide the methods for determining the capitalization (cap) rate used to calculate agricultural and timberland values. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has released the following 2013 cap rates:
The 2013 agriculture land cap rate is 10 percent.
The 2013 timberland cap rate is 8.02 percent.
IRS waives penalties for late filing of farm tax returns
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced (IR-2013-7) that it will not penalize farmers unable to file and pay their 2012 taxes by the March 1 deadline due to the IRS delayed start for filing tax returns. Farm Bureau had alerted the IRS of this issue on Jan. 10.
Normally, farmers who choose not to make quarterly estimated tax payments are not subject to a penalty if they file their returns and pay the full amount of tax due by March 1. Under the IRS guidance to be issued, farmers or fishermen who miss the March 1 deadline will not be subject to the penalty if they file and pay by April 15, 2013.
Farmers requesting this penalty waiver must attach Form 2210-F to their tax return. The taxpayer’s name and identifying number should be entered at the top of the form, the waiver box (Part I, Box A) should be checked and the rest of the form should be left blank. Forms, instructions and other tax assistance are available on www.IRS.gov.
EPA releases "waters of the U.S." guidance
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act" has become available to the public. The guidance professes to create clarity for regulators and the public, but the document is nearly identical to the previous guidance document and internally inconsistent.
Highlights from the document include:
- EPA says that Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States (Rapanos) combined to reduce the historic scope of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction, but the leaked document fails to identify if or how the final guidance reduces the scope of jurisdiction.
- The leaked guidance deletes the acknowledgment in the proposed guidance that the agencies are expanding jurisdiction.
- Ditches continue to be regulated if they have "standing" water and connect directly or indirectly to other water. This standard alone sweeps in most all ditches.
- All waters and wetlands in a watershed will be aggregated together to determine whether one particular water has a significant nexus. Once a determination is made in a watershed, it applies throughout the watershed, despite landowner concerns.
- The final guidance fails to exclude any isolated waters from jurisdiction.
- The final guidance says that, for the first time, wetlands also can be tributaries.
TFB was concerned that the EPA would ignore concerns submitted through the comment period because of the impact that the guidance would have on enforcement of other regulations that are currently in force by the agency. For example, the impact on the implementation of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule will be more inclusive of farm operators because of the inclusion of the "ditches" and "nexus" language approved by the EPA.
Bees added to agricultural use
Last year, the Texas Legislature added another agricultural use for purposes of open-space land appraisal. Tax Code Section 23.51(2) was amended to include in the definition of agricultural use: “the use of land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value, provided that the land used is not less than 5 or more than 20 acres.” This provision permits the owner to raise or keep bees for two purposes: 1) pollination or 2) the production of human food or products that have commercial value.
The second of the two options states that the food or products must have commercial value, not commercial production. While human food and products must be produced, the law does not require that they be sold commercially. Commercial production of agricultural products, such as livestock or crops, is not required for land to qualify for open-space land appraisal under current law. The other option requires that the land is used for raising or keeping bees for pollination.
Details on TCEQ’s new pesticides general permit
On Oct. 31, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added an additional level of regulations to the application of pesticides made into, over or near waters of the United States. The new regulation requires a permit for pesticide application in addition to the existing pesticide applicator licensing program administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). In response, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued a general permit on Nov. 2, 2011. Click here for more details about the Pesticide General Permit and to find out how to comply with its terms.
Need CEU hours?
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has approved recertification courses for pesticide applicators who need continuing education units (CEUs). Visit this online, interactive map from TDA to search for a course by region, county, course type or course category. CEU courses are listed by geographical locations in Texas. The search engine will allow you to search for all courses registered with the TDA.