6:50pm

Tue June 4, 2013
Regional Coverage

Ag advocates applaud movement on tighter farmland assessment cap

Agriculture advocates are welcoming progress on state legislation that would slow rising property taxes for farmers. The Senate passed a bill last week that tightens the cap on farmland assessment increases. Yesterday, that measure also passed out of the Assembly's Agriculture Committee. 

Farmer John Peck, of Peck Homestead Farm in Champion, Jefferson County, is worried about how steadily rising farmland property taxes are affecting his livelihood.
Credit Joanna Richards

The bill would lower the cap on farmland assessment increases from 10 percent to 2 percent per year.

Farm advocates held a conference call to applaud Albany's movement on the issue. 

Dean Norton is president of the New York Farm Bureau. He said the state's farmers pay an average of over $38 per acre in property taxes, while states like Michigan and Ohio pay in the mid-20s per acre, and others pay far less.

Norton said New York farmers spend about 15 percent of their net income each year on property taxes, "and that is 5 percentage points higher than the United States average of 10 percent. And if you compare us to California, which is only 7 percent, you can see the disadvantage that our producers are put into, when it comes to being competitive across the country and internationally."

Rising corn and soybean prices have been boosting the production value of farmland, which in turn has hiked up property taxes for farmers. But even though farmers are taking in more money overall on certain crops, their profits have remained stagnant for about a decade, thanks to rising production costs.

Reporting by the Innovation Trail is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Visit innovationtrail.org.