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Local Farming Restrictions Overturned

City

Round hay bales in a field | Image by James Meyer/Shutterstock

Previous city rules and land limitations in Farmers Branch were removed after it was decided that these rules violated state protections for agriculture.

Last month, Farmers Branch removed or adjusted restrictions on crops, height limits, hay bales, and perimeter mowing. The change came after one farmer spent over a year pushing back against the regulations.

James Lockridge has been campaigning against these city restrictions and arguing that they push out the very industry that gave the city its name.

The new changes should allow Lockridge to continue his work in the spring of mowing tall grass on an undeveloped property to use as feed for animals.

Lockridge grows hay on land he leases in Farmers Branch. Lockridge’s work entitles the landowners to agricultural tax exemptions on the undeveloped parcels he leases.

Back in November, Lockridge rode his tractor from Dallas to Austin to raise awareness about farming regulations.

“The City of Farmers Branch decided to mow my crops to the ground and then tell me that you couldn’t grow crops over eight inches,” Lockridge alleged.

“Texas has gotten bad. Texas is out of control,” said Lockridge. “I was on a mission and I had to get here.”

The 12 1/2 hour trip successfully garnered the attention of Texas lawmakers and attracted legislative support for a prospective new bill for further agricultural protections.

Lockridge said he is presently fighting anti-agriculture rules in seven other cities in North Texas.

Newly appointed Farmers Branch City Manager Ben Williamson explained that the ordinance changes over the last several months simply followed a new conversation with Lockridge. The changes were made after it became clear Lockridge was looking for further relief from the City’s rules.

Williamson stated that he had promised the city council that if someone in the City had concerns, his door would be open to speaking about them.

While the council agreed unanimously to the latest change, the city’s interim mayor voiced concern in a December meeting that overgrown properties could be a potential health hazard, as they can hide trash and rodents.

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