The Texas legislature is currently considering easing farming regulations and taxes to encourage the growth of small, sustainable agricultural operations in order to combat hunger and poor nutrition.
The state legislature is currently holding hearings to discuss the availability of food in the state. The Lone Star State currently has the second highest rates of food insecurity. Last year, Texas surpassed California as the highest distributor of Food Stamps, spending about $500 million a month to help feed 3.6 million Texans.
Several farmers and agricultural advocacy groups spoke at the hearing, suggesting easing restrictions on urban agriculture as a way to help alleviate hunger. Urban agriculture, the fad spreading across metropolitan areas nationwide, has been proposed as a solution to sluggish urban economies and poor inner-city nutrition.
In addition, lawmakers suggested lowering agricultural property taxes as a way to encourage the spread of small, local farms. Texas currently ranks 43rd in terms of small farms and farmers markets, largely because of red tape and bureaucratic hassle at the county level.
The expansion of small farms will not only help combat hunger on a local level, but could be the kind of agricultural reorganization that Texas needs. After last year’s brutal drought, many large farmers across the state retired or were forced out of business. Some agricultural experts believe that smaller, more localized farms could survive ongoing droughts more easily than larger, industrialized operations.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer