Farm Bureau Urges Tax Commission Not to Increase Agricultural Taxes
In testimony before the Missouri State Tax Commission, Missouri Farm Bureau Vice President Blake Hurst made a strong case as to why property taxes on agricultural land should not be increased by the Commission. Hurst and his wife Julie own a family farming operation near Westboro in Northwest Missouri.
Every two years, the productivity values used for property tax assessments are reviewed and adopted by the Commission. State law provides that agricultural land be assessed on its productivity value not market value, thereby assessing farmland on its true worth for agricultural production rather than development, speculation or other purposes.
In testimony Hurst stated, "National net farm income in 2009 is projected to be approximately 10% below the ten-year average for 1998-2008. Average monthly prices for corn and soybeans in Missouri have been lower every month except one this year- and sharply lower several times- compared to last year. Fertilizer, fuel and seed costs are somewhat lower than last year, but not nearly enough to offset record highs."
Hurst further noted the economic situation is extremely critical for livestock and poultry producers. "The combination of lower exports, high feed costs, and lagging consumer demand as a result of misplaced concern related to H1N1 flu has led to widespread equity losses among pork producers," said Hurst. "Dairy prices were well below the cost of production for months and put many dairymen in the worst cost/price financial squeeze they have ever experienced."
Farming is known to be a risky and volatile business as Hurst points out, "Even though some analysts predict the beginning of a rebound next year, after what we've experienced just since last year, there is still a lack of confidence and uncertainty lingering across Missouri's agriculture landscape - and not enough rebound predicted to restore liquidity for many operations. Not only are future returns uncertain with historical market trends shifting, but the full magnitude of the debt load assumed last year and this year is yet to be realized."
The State Tax Commission has until the end of the year to promulgate a regulation setting the agricultural productivity values. The Missouri General Assembly then has sixty days from the beginning of the year to pass a concurrent resolution if a majority of legislators disagree with the productivity values submitted by the Commission.