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Editorial: Truth is, ag land hit hard

Minnesota farmers produce a substantial share of the food that feeds nation and the world. Effective in 2014, those farmers also will produce a greater share of the taxes that fill government coffers. This is thanks to the dozen or so new laws the DFL majority passed in 2013. These lawmakers apparently forgot that their party’s middle initial stands for farmer.

In addition to a new sales tax on equipment repair and a warehouse for storing farm machinery, Minnesota also has a statewide school levy that hits farm property. The education commissioner now sets a uniform tax rate, resulting in every farmer paying a state-imposed tax — in addition to local taxes — on every acre of land and building.

There’s more. County assessors no longer can reduce the value of farm property that has a conservation easement. This means land that shouldn’t be farmed and isn’t will be taxed as if it should be farmed and is.

Several farmers complained to the Goodhue County Board during this week’s Truth-in-Taxation hearing that their property taxes are going up between 49 to 200 percent ... and more.

Compounding the problem here is that ag land sales in 2011-12 increased property values for taxes payable next year: Mining companies paid top dollar for property rich in silica sand.

We advise ag producers to make the truth known to the state lawmakers: Higher taxes may well plow more farmers under and convince others to take oil companies up on their lucrative offers.

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