A double digit tax increase for farmers is wrong, Sen. Frank Barnitz, R-Lake Spring, said in his latest capitol report::
The Missouri State Tax Commission recently proposed an 86-cent an acre increase in property taxes for the most productive farmland in the state. The three-member panel wants to hike taxes 28.7% on the farmland used to produce row crops while cutting taxes on pasture land used primarily for livestock. I was surprised that the Tax Commission would suggest raising taxes on our most valuable land during one of the worst economic downturns our country has faced in decades. I am committed to agriculture – our state’s number one industry – and I will fight this proposed tax hike tooth and nail.
Farmers have dealt with a lot of challenges over the past year, from heavy rains and flooding to higher costs for things like seed, fertilizer, land rent and propane used to dry grains during harvest time. Missouri farmers are struggling during these turbulent times just like families across our state, and a tax increase on their most productive land could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
This proposed tax hike has the potential to increase the struggles of agriculture, which could impact the economics of our rural communities that depend on the success of our family farmers to pay for local schools, to fund local fire districts and to put money into the pockets of our Main Street merchants.
Even the Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Jon Hagler, has voiced opposition to the proposed increase in farmland valuations. Hagler says the proposed increases in land assessments would be “detrimental to farm families and Missouri’s overall economy.”
The Missouri Farm Bureau notes that Missouri farmers are carrying some of the highest debt load in the country due to market volatility, record production expenses and weak demand. To make matters worse, nearly every farm operation continues to suffer from a lack of credit availability for operational financing or debt restructuring because of the banking crisis.
A Senate committee has considered a resolution to reject the State Tax Commission recommendation and the full Senate will take up the measure in the next few weeks. I will support this resolution to kill the proposed tax increase on Missouri family farmers.
Our state has a proud agricultural tradition that dates to 1725, when the first farms were established by French settlers in the St. Genevieve area. Our agricultural heritage is reflected in the statue that caps the dome of the State Capitol - Ceres, goddess of growing vegetation.
We need to protect our rich agricultural heritage and preserve the ability of our family farmers to earn a living off the land. Hitting our family farmers with a double-digit tax increase is wrong, and I will do my part to not let it happen.