Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New York Farm Bureau Calls for Ag Land Assessment Cap

Here is a release from New York Farm Bureau:

Farm Bureau officials Tuesday called on state Assembly members to cap agricultural land assessments at 2 percent.

Rising land assessments dictated by a complicated formula that takes into account national production value statistics and soil type is forcing up the overall tax bill on farmland. Currently, New York farmers pay $38.41 per acre in property taxes, according to Farm Credit East.  That is the second highest rate in the country and eats up 15 percent of a farm’s net income. This puts farmers in this state at a clear competitive disadvantage.

The skyrocketing tax bills show no sign of slowing down, which could ultimately force farmers off their land. In the past 10 years, property taxes have essentially doubled for New York’s farms.

This added expense comes at a time when additional farm costs are also rising including those for fuel, feed, labor and health care. All of these weigh heavily on a farm’s bottom line, and also dissuades new farmers who are unable to afford purchasing land from taking part in the state’s long tradition of providing food, fuel and fiber.

This bill has already passed unanimously in a strong bipartisan show of support in the State Senate, and New York Farm Bureau is hoping lawmakers in the Assembly will support the state’s hard working farmers in these final weeks of the legislative session. 

While this will address the immediate needs of our farmer members, New York Farm Bureau is also advocating for the establishment of a working group comprised of stakeholders and experts to address the long term problem of agricultural assessment valuation.

“If we are going to have a healthy agricultural economy in this state, it is time we take the necessary step to implement a 2 percent cap on agricultural land assessments," said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. "New York farmers deserve a fair shot when it comes to selling their quality products in a competitive marketplace."

“From 1990 to 2006, the average ag assessment value was $550 for a particular soil class. For 2013, the ag assessment value for this same soil class is $1,000,” said Barry Flansberg, town assessor for Oakfield, Elba and Byron in Genesee County and Barre in Orleans County.

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

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