Landowners look to Wildlife Exemption to ease Ag burdens Reply

As many Texas land owners struggle to maintain their Agricultural Exemption due to drought and a difficult economy, more and more are learning about an alternative that could help simplify their land management challenges.  

Wildlife Exemption: Compelling Alternative to Ag

By Tim Milligan

Let’s face it, maintaining an Agricultural valuation (“Ag exemption”) is a fact of life for many folks who own rural property in Texas. No one is in Ag because it’s easy, and lately, it’s a battle that more and more folks are either losing, or thinking about giving up.

For those of us in Ag, we’ve spent years meeting grazing requirements, cultivating crops, and spending time and money on efforts that normally yield nothing more than lower taxes.  All the while, we watch our once beautiful property slowly turn into something different than what is was when we started, and many of us feel like there’s nothing we can do about it because we need to maintain our tax savings.

Ag as a Way of Life

First let me say this: if you’re a legitimate producer and your Ag operation is part of your livelihood, this is not aimed at you.  I have the utmost respect for those who are willing to work that life so that the rest of us don’t have to.  Or, if you truly love Ag and, you’re managing fine, your property is not suffering and you are not burdened by the day to day management of that operation, my hat’s off to each and every one of you.

The folks I am trying to reach are those like my family, who spent years and untold sums of money maintaining livestock for no real reason other than the fact that we had to in order to keep the ranch.  For these folks, there is an alternative, and a good one at that.

The Alternative: Wildlife Management Valuation “Wildlife exemption”

In 1995, Proposition 11 was passed by the Texas Legislature, the Texas Constitution was amended, and the Wildlife Management Tax Valuation was born.This new law would allow folks with an Ag valuation to maintain their same property tax savings while managing for native habitat and wildlife, instead of livestock, crops, etc. For the first time, folks like my family had a legitimate, legal and respectable alternative to Ag.

The passage of Proposition 11 was a major undertaking that has helped many people who are no longer able to continue operating under traditional Ag. The odd thing is, seventeen years later, this is still news to a lot of folks who have been struggling to maintain Ag on their property for years.

The Fine Print

Similar to Ag Valuation, there are requirements and activity guidelines that must be met to qualify for Wildlife Exemption.  Maintaining a Wildlife Management Valuation is not difficult, but you need to know the activity requirements and expectations. You have to be active in your management, but if you are currently in Ag, something tells me that won’t bother you much.

The Solution

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about Wildlife Exemption, and few resources for the correct answers to your questions. I feel that this is where a lot of folks hit a wall. They stop at the fact that they don’t fully understand the process, are unsure about the requirements, and can’t find help. That’s where Plateau Land and Wildlife Management comes in. We have the answers to your questions, and the help you need to start moving into wildlife management today.

Plateau  is a privately-owned, land and wildlife management company that was founded in 1998 with the primary goal of making sure that the good people of Texas had all the help and guidance they needed to take advantage of the new Wildlife Valuation law.  Over the years, we’ve expanded into every area of ranch and wildlife management- from education and consulting to major construction and implementation of wildlife management plans.  Fourteen years later, we are still fighting the good fight for landowners across Texas, and  wildlife management has continued to thrive as an alternative Ag use.

If you’re in Ag now and it’s becoming less and less attractive, if you’re tired of the burdens involved with a traditional Ag operation, or if you’re already in wildlife management and are just hungry for more information- give us a call. We’re here to help you enhance the value and enjoyment of your land.

Tim Milligan



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