By Carla Bass – Staff Writer
“God isn’t going to make any more land. Always keep the goose and sell the eggs,” as the late general merchandise proprietor and rancher/landowner, Marvin Moseley, advised his family’s future generations before his death in 1979. He practiced that in selling timber, cattle, and in leasing his property.
That quote is what the Texas Family Land Heritage Program is all about. It recognizes land owned by a particular family for multiple generations spanning 100, 150, and 200 years. It takes some time and effort to get the documentation together to apply for the designation.
It is more or less like working on family genealogy, tracing back among the roots of the family tree, but it is worth the effort. The qualifications that are the guidelines for the program include the stipulation that the same family must have maintained the land in continuous agricultural production for 100 years or more. Family can include relatives by blood, marriage or adoption. Texas residents who own agricultural land may apply if they can trace the line of ownership from the first family member to the present.
The land must also fit the old U.S. Census definition of a farm: 10 acres or more with agricultural sales of $50 or more a year; or if less than 10 acres, sales of at least $250 a year. Owners must be actively managing the everyday operation of the farm or ranch. If all the land has ever been rented or leased to someone outside of the family, it will not qualify. If only a portion was leased, and as much as 10 acres retained in the family for agricultural production with sales of at least $50 annually, it will still qualify.
If a landowner meets these qualifications, and the ranch or farm status can be documented, it is time to download the application on the computer from the Texas Department of Agriculture to be completed along with providing copies of the necessary documents supporting the line of ownership from one family or generational transfer of the property to another for at least 100 years. If there are several current owners and co-owners of the same farm or ranch, all names should be on one application.
Submit the completed form and supporting documents to the county judge of the county in which the land is located for certification.
Gather old photographs which the Family Land Heritage Program may use. One of these photographs will be included in the program to be published for the ceremony which is held in Austin when a family farm or ranch receives its designation from the state. Write your property name and address on the back of each picture copy you send…
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