Ag organizations unite to call for buffer tax credit

Buffers in eastern MN

TAKE ACTION NOW! Contact your legislators and Governor Dayton now and ask that they immediately pass HF 4395/SF 3960 – providing a much-needed $50-per-acre property tax credit for farm acres that are required to be removed from production and converted into buffers. Quickly and easily send an email to your legislators and Gov. Dayton today.

Fifteen Minnesota agricultural organizations signed onto a joint letter to Governor Mark Dayton and legislative leaders urgently requesting the passage of legislation providing farmers with a much-needed property tax credit for farm acres that were removed from production and converted into buffers. Delivered today, the letter calls for fairness and equity in the buffer law, which currently penalizes farmers by continuing to tax buffer acres at valuations that assume these acres are still producing crops and income.

Since the Minnesota Buffer Law was signed into law in 2015, the state’s farmers have worked diligently to comply with the law mandating the installation of vegetative buffers along waterways on farm land. On April 12, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources announced Minnesota’s farmers were 98 percent in compliance with the buffer law.

Now, members of the state’s ag community have come together to address the lack of compensation for farmers who have lost productive farm land in complying with the buffer law. The letter asks Gov. Dayton to follow the basic concept that if government takes private property for a public purpose, government must compensate the private property owner. In addition, if there is a significant reduction in the value of a home or business, by law, the assessed value must be lowered to its new/lower market value, which results in lower property taxes on that property.

Minnesota’s agricultural organizations asked Gov. Dayton to pass bipartisan legislation—HF 4395/SF 3960—that provides farmers with a $50-per-acre tax credit for farm acres that are required to be removed from production and converted into buffers. This legislation responsibly included a funding provision—utilizing Clean Water Funds—dollars that are specifically designated for projects and initiatives to improve water quality in Minnesota.

In an April 20 release, Gov. Dayton credited the legislative authors of each bill “for authoring this sensible, bipartisan proposal to support Minnesota farmers, who are working to protect clean water throughout our state” and further noted, “I strongly support this legislation, and encourage Republican legislative leaders to send it to me, as a clean bill, as soon as possible.”

With less than two weeks remaining in the 2018 legislative session, today’s letter addressed to Gov. Dayton emphasizes the urgency with which the state’s farmers view the passage of this bill. The legislation would be welcomed by Minnesota farm families who are experiencing significant economic stress.

“Farmers throughout Minnesota have made great efforts to comply with the buffer law, as demonstrated by the near 100-percent compliance with the law,” Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Kirby Hettver said. “It is now time for Gov. Dayton and legislators to do their part by providing much-needed compensation for the loss of productive farm land. Anything short of that in 2018 would be considered a major failure.”

The letter was led by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and signees include Minnesota Farm Bureau; Minnesota AgriGrowth Council; and various grain, livestock and poultry commodity organizations and cooperatives. You can read the full letter here.

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