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Farm-to-market road

In the United States, a farm-to-market road or ranch-to-market road (sometimes farm road or ranch road for short) is a state road or county road which serves to connect rural or agricultural areas to market towns. These routes serve as a better quality road, usually a highway, which allows farmers and ranchers to transport their products to market towns and/or distribution centers.

However, in Texas, the terms "Farm to Market Road" or "Ranch to Market Road" indicate a road that is part of the state's system of secondary and connecting routes, built and maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). This system was established in 1949 as a project to provide access to rural areas. The system consists primarily of paved, two-lane roads. Roads occurring west of U.S. Highway 281 (or Interstate 35 in some locations) are designated ranch-to-market roads, while those occurring east of US 281 are generally designated farm-to-market roads, though there are exceptions to this naming system.

Although these roads are signed "farm road" or "ranch road" (or simply "FM" and "RM" on larger sign assemblies), the proper name is Farm-to-Market and Ranch-to-Market road. The only exception is Ranch Road 1, which runs near the former ranch home of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.


The first Texas farm-to-market road was completed in January 1937 between Mount Enterprise and Shiloh. The route was 5.8 miles (9.1 km) long and cost $48,000. In 1945, the highway commission authorized the construction of 7,500 miles (12,000 km) of farm-to-market roadway, to be shared by the state and Federal governments. The popularity of the program and the vast, isolated central and western areas of the state of Texas prompted the passing of the Colson-Briscoe Act in 1949, which allowed for the creation of an extensive system of secondary roads to provide access to the rural areas of the state and to allow farmers and ranchers to bring their goods to market. The act provided $15 million per year for local highway construction. In 1962, the Texas legislature increased this amount to no less than $23 million, and expanded the farm-to-market system from 35,000 to 50,000 miles (54,000 to 80,000 km). The system includes both farm-to-market roads and ranch-to-market roads, and now accounts for over half of the Texas Department of Transportation system.


Signs designating a farm-to-market or ranch-to-market road show a white shape of the state of Texas on a black background with the words "farm road" or "ranch road" appearing in the background and the road number appearing on the shape of Texas. Guide signs (the large green signs usually found along highways) designating these roads show a white rectangle with the abbreviation "F.M." or "R.M." and the road number appearing below the abbreviation.

As a result of population growth and the expansion of urban areas, many of these roads now serve urban areas, sometimes exclusively. An effort was made to rename such roads "urban roads" in 1995, but residents opposed the effort. Though the F.M. and R.M. designations remain in place on route signage, the state tracks Urban Roads separately in its highway designation files. For example, the mileage of Farm to Market Road 544 in Plano was transferred from FM 544 to UR 544 in 1995.

FM and RM roads are numbered as a single set of roads (e.g., there should not be an FM and an RM with the same number, unless it crosses US 281). Urban Roads do not share this distinction; URs are normally numbered with the same number they had as FM or RM roads.

Facts and trivia

  • All state highways in Texas, regardless of designation, are paved.
  • The longest farm-to-market road is FM 168 at .
  • The shortest farm-to-market Road is FM 742, at .
  • The longest ranch-to-market road is RM 187, at .
  • The shortest ranch-to-market road is RM 3474, at .
  • According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are over of FM, RM, and urban roads in Texas.

Other states

Missouri has a similar state-operated system of farm-to-market roads, called Missouri supplemental routes. Unlike Texas' unique farm-to-market route numbers, Missouri uses letters and two-letter combinations.

Iowa also has a farm-to-market road system. Those roads are under county jurisdiction , but are eligible for state aid from a dedicated fund.

See also

List of Farm to Market Roads in Texas

External links


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