Authored by State Representative Four Price, the Texas House of Representatives today unanimously approved House Resolution 173, Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Texas Ag Land Trust. Board members Clark Willingham, Bob McCan, Steve Lewis, and Norman Garza joined CEO, Blair Fitzsimons on the dais.
We are deeply appreciative of Representative Price’s effort to honor us in this way.
By: AA Price H.R. No. A173
R E S O L U T I O N
WHEREAS, The Texas Agricultural Land Trust, which diligently works to conserve our state’s heritage of agricultural lands, wildlife habitats, and natural resources, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a Celebratory Texas Ranch BBQ on October 12, 2017, at the historic McFaddin Ranch; and
WHEREAS, Twenty-seven million residents are blessed to live in Texas, a state with abundant natural beauty and biodiversity in every corner; the Lone Star State covers a land and water area totaling more than 268,000 square miles, the most of any state in the continental United States; and
WHEREAS, Farming and ranching have been ingrained into the very fabric of Texas, from the earliest settlers to the present-day farmers and ranchers who work nearly 50,000 farms and ranches; this is more than double the number in the second leading state, which boasts just over 100,000 farms and ranches; Texas farms and ranches, including privately owned forestland, total over 140 million acres and encompass approximately 84 percent of the state’s total land area; and
WHEREAS, Agricultural families produce the food and fiber that help feed and clothe suburban and urban Texans, Americans in other states, and many citizens of other countries; Texas is a leader in the U.S. production of beef and several types of fruit, vegetable, and fiber crops; and
WHEREAS, Today’s family-owned farms and ranches face many of the same challenges encountered by their pioneer forefathers, such as severe weather, predation, and fluctuating prices; present-day farmers and ranchers also face the challenge of the fragmentation of land due to multiple heirs, estate taxation, and the urbanization of Texas that has followed the rapid growth of municipalities; farm and ranch land in the United States has been disappearing at an accelerated pace since the 1960s, and Texas has experienced this same trend; to address this issue, in 2005 the American Farmland Trust brought together farmers, ranchers, and stakeholder organizations, such as the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the Texas Wildlife Association, and the Texas Farm Bureau; and
WHEREAS, The result of this effort was the creation of the nonprofit Texas Agricultural Land Trust, the sole mission of which is to promote the conservation of Agricultural lands and native wildlife habitat on privately owned lands, while also guaranteeing each landowner’s private property rights; the Texas Agricultural Land Trust’s mission is not to own land, but it instead seeks to work with landowners who love their land and want to conserve it for future generations through conservation easements; this voluntary land use management tool is used to conserve land and natural resources while ensuring that the landowner continues to own the property and to use it for farming, ranching, and hunting; each conservation easement is individually tailored and can also help to lower income and estate taxes; in several instances, the Texas Agricultural Land Trust has helped private landowners reconstitute their once fragmented family farms and ranches to re-create the original family tract, or one that is as similar to the original as possible; and
WHEREAS, Governed by a board of directors made up of landowners and managed by a staff experienced in ranch and farm management and wildlife conservation, the Texas Agricultural Land Trust has worked with farmers, ranchers, and forest owners across the state to conserve more than 226,000 acres; the organization’s current board of directors is led by Chairman Clark Willingham, Vice Chairman Bob McCan, Secretary Caroleene Hardee Dobson, and Treasurer John Dudley; the members of the board include Perry Bass II, Mark Bivins, Jim Bradbury, Charles Davidson, Norman Garza Jr., Steve C. Lewis, Richard M. Lucas Jr., Larry Mellenbruch, Rick Peebles, Robert J. Potts, Jane Richardson, Ed Small, Julie Kelleher Stacy, and Jesse Womack; and
WHEREAS, The daily operations of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust are ably conducted by Chief Executive Officer Blair Fitzsimons and her team, Chief Operating Officer James Oliver, Stewardship Director Ken Cearley, Finance Director Dina McIlhenny, Outreach and Communications Manager Jenny Sanders, Executive Assistant and Office Manager Lorie Talamantez, Development Coordinator Sandra Velarde, and External Legal Counsel Arthur Uhl; and
WHEREAS, The iconic wide-open spaces of Texas provide immeasurable tangible and intangible benefits to this state and constitute an essential part of its identity, and the Texas Agricultural Land Trust is playing a vital role in preserving and protecting this precious heritage; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 85th Texas Legislature, 1st Called Session, hereby commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust and extend to all those associated with the trust sincere best wishes for continued success in their important work; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for the Texas Agricultural Land Trust as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives.