Agriculture won big in the legislature session with approval of $20 million in property tax credits, but farm groups say more needs to be done.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson calls the $20 million tax credit a step in the right direction, but Nelson points out taxes on agricultural property have risen by 176% in the last 10 years.
“This is certainly unsustainable,” Nelson tells Brownfield Ag News. “It’s flattening out, but it’s not turned around and we need to deal with this issue.”
Nelson says he wasn’t surprised by the push back during the legislative session. He calls it a big issue which cannot be resolved in one session. Nelson also suggests term limits has affected the issue, with fewer senators understanding the impact rising property taxes have had on agriculture.
Dave McCracken with the Nebraska Cattlemen Association says his members are under real financial pressure.
“I was just visiting with a lender the other day and he said things are really getting back to the tough times again,” McCracken says. “Everybody knew this was coming, the drop in livestock and grain prices. I don’t think anybody was quite prepared for as far as it went, especially in livestock.”
McCracken says he favored the initial proposal pushed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. It would have restricted revenue growth on the local level and spread out the increase in farmland valuations, softening the blow of increased property tax bills on farmers and ranchers.
Farm groups contend the state has for too long leaned too heavily on agriculture to fund state schools.
Though the legislature has increased the tax credits for agriculture, Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says the move falls short.
“While this isn’t everything we wanted, it represents a, we think, positive step forward,” Hansen says. “We had the ag groups working together. We had education and revenue committee chairs working together. We had the governor constructively engaged. We have found ourselves in a better place than when we started. So, that’s progress.”
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this article.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]