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PANDEMIC MESSES WITH TEXAS, PROMPTS NEW APPEAL

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  • PANDEMIC MESSES WITH TEXAS, PROMPTS NEW APPEAL

Texas Department of Transportation officials noticed more personal protective equipment — face masks, wipes and gloves — on the side of roads and highways, so they called in the big guns for a new round of “Don’t Mess with Texas” commercials. The celebrities featured include George Strait, Matthew McConaughey and Eva Longoria.

“Find a trash can or keep a litter bag in your car and wait to toss it until you get home,” Longoria said via her Instagram page. “#DontMessWithTexas actually means don’t litter!”

“Capital Highlights” reader Anna Blythe, who reads the column in the Weimar Mercury, wrote recently that she thinks the “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign needs a reboot. She said she’s seen much more litter in recent years along Interstate 10 from Baytown to Flatonia.

“I hate to see all the trash on our roadways in our great state of Texas,” Blythe said.

About 362 million pieces of litter accumulate on Texas roads every year, with items discarded from vehicles accounting for half the mess, TxDOT officials report.

Those caught littering can face a fine of $500. If the tossed litter weighs more than five pounds, the fine can increase up to $2,000.

For alert readers also wanting to appear in this column, which celebrity appeared in the first “Don’t Mess with Texas” commercial in 1986?

Email the answer, along with your name and the newspaper in which you read the column, to ccobler@texaspress.com.

Ag land values remain strong

Despite the recession, the value of Texas agricultural land has increased, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

The average value of the state’s agricultural land, including buildings, is up 2.4 percent this year at $2,170 an acre in the USDA’s 2020 Land Values Report.

Across the country, average ag land values are either lower or unchanged from 2019’s record highs, according to Morning Ag Clips.

The amount of farmable land has decreased because of urban sprawl.

Because of this, farmland is appreciating in value, which is good for investors but can be a mixed bag for farmers.

In Texas, 236,000 farmers and ranchers paid $698 million in property taxes, or about $3,000 each, according to an article by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Ag land can qualify for certain tax exemptions.