As the population in Texas grows, more homes are being built, and more large parcels of land are being broken up and sold as smaller pieces, but residential neighborhoods are only part of the pressure being brought on agricultural land. Charlie Gilliland is a research economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.
“As the population keeps growing, the economy keeps developing, there’s going to be more and more demand for recreational opportunities, and it’ll probably further and further afield as time goes by.”
Gilliland says it’s already happening in the Brazos Valley.
“Exxon moving their headquarters to The Woodlands brings a lot of people that are making a lot of money and they’re going to be looking for some place to get away on weekends and that sort of thing and they don’t need a thousand acres. They just need some place out in the country to get away from Houston, so they move up into Grimes County and of course, they’ve already invaded Washington County a long time ago.”
Gilliland points out that most people won’t recognize the problem until it affects them personally.
“It’s not going to be an issue until you start going to the supermarket and the price of food is going up. And when that happens, then there’ll be some kind of pressure going the other way.”
Gilliland says that there are actions that can be taken.
“I could foresee the day when they change the agricultural use value, property tax treatment requiring you to actually produce some agricultural product. Now basically, there’s a wildlife use you can get without any kind of other agricultural production activity.”
There is some worry that by the time a response is made, too much agriculturally productive land will be gone.