Family farms in continuous agricultural production in Texas for at least 100 years are honored by the Family Land Heritage Program, and the Texas Department of Agriculture is calling for applicants.

According to TDA, agriculture has remained Texas’ second-largest industry. This program chronicles the unique history of Texas agricultural production and the contributions of Texas families to agriculture. Each farm or ranch’s agricultural history is documented in the Family Land Heritage Registry, published annually.

TDA started the Family Land Heritage Program in 1974 and more than 4,100 farms and ranches in 229 counties have been honored. TDA held its annual award ceremony in March where each family received a certificate with the name of the farm and also had the option to purchase a bronze flag and Texas historic farm and ranch sign.

Families don’t have to buy anything to be honored and don’t have to pay any fee for the program. Also families don’t have to report any type of changes to the TDA after being recognized, and recognition doesn’t cause the family’s farm or ranch to be opened to the public. However, there are certain qualifications to be met.

The same family must have maintained the land in continuous agricultural production for 100 years or more, and family can be relatives by blood, marriage or adoption. Texas residents who currently 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 United States. This means 10 acres or more with agricultural sales of $50 or more a year or $250 a year if land is less than 10 acres. Also owners must be actively maintaining the everyday operation of the farm or ranch.

However, if all the land has ever been leased or rented to anyone outside the family, it doesn’t qualify for the program. But if only a portion was leased and the family still controlled at least 10 acres, producing $50 or more in annual sales, the farm or ranch is eligible for the program.

Sept. 15 is the deadline to apply for each year. Applications may be picked up from the county judge’s office or online at www.agr.state.tx.us.

This year marked the sixth year for the Family Land Heritage. Fifteen farms and ranches were honored in 2005 for 150 years of service and 20 farms and ranches in 2004.

For more information or an application on this program, call Melissa Blair at (512) 463-2631 or visit TDA’s Web site www.agr.state.tx.us.

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