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Farmers push for property tax relief

Farm Bureau wants to see land assessments capped at 2 percent

— “From my professional perspective in an area that has a strong agricultural presence, farming has evolved and modernized since the 1970s, but the (agricultural) assessment system has not,” Flansberg said in a statement. “It is not reflective of what’s happening in the fields today and no longer is a reasonable and consistent system.”

Ammerman stressed the Farm Bureau isn’t advocating for farmers to pay lower taxes, but are seeking to minimize future tax increases.

“We think it is a matter of fairness to the farmer that pays more than their fair share in services,” Ammerman said. “It is going to get to the point where some farmers simply can’t stay on their land.”

Agricultural assessments are calculated through a formula accounting for the quality of the soil and national production value statistics. There are two main soil type categories, mineral soil and organic soil, with 20 classifications total. There is also a category for aquaculture and farm woodland.

This formula is what the Farm Bureau claims is leading to a rapid increase in agricultural assessments.

“Your average homeowner’s property taxes is not jumping 10 percent each year, it is for our farms,” Ammerman said.

Brian Wilson, owner of Wilson Farms in Knox, was more concerned about the state’s high taxes and pushed for a broader reform beyond a cap.

“They should lower the taxes first,” Wilson said. “The assessments definitely increase over time, and as your assessment goes up, your tax bill goes up.”

Wilson founded his farm with his father a decade ago and started off producing hay, but has expanded to vegetables and beef. His farm is around 400 acres and revenue is getting better each year as the soil improves.

For him, farming is a passion, but he “wouldn’t suggest anybody do it.”

Randy Grippin, owner Mountain Winds Farm in Berne, had a similar sentiment.

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