A push is being made at the Capitol to change the way farmland is assessed for property tax purposes.
Gov. Pete Ricketts has enlisted the help of a number of agricultural producers to back his structural change on how agricultural land is assessed, a move he calls, “a big deal.”
During a news conference held in the governor’s Capitol office, Ricketts made his case for changing the method of assessment from the current market-based assessment to an assessment based on the income potential of the land.
Loup City rancher Trent Loos insisted the change would send a positive signal to rural Nebraska youth about the future of farming.
“We’re not just talking about some industry that produces widgets,” Loos stated. “We convert the God-given natural resources into the essentials of life: food, fiber, pharmaceuticals, and fuel.”
Even former state Sen. Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek, once Appropriations Committee chairman, attended the news conference to lend his support. Heidemann farms in southeastern Nebraska.
Shelton producer Deb Gangwish said farmers battered by low commodity prices need relief.
“I tend to think of our ag economy as wounded, wounded,” Gangwish stated, “and Nebraska’s rising property taxes are like pouring salt into that wound.”
Dick Hollman, an Angus breeder from Hallam, lent his support and the support of the Nebraska Cattlemen.
Not all farm groups are onboard or, at least, not fully on board.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau has given the proposal only lukewarm support. It has advocated an adjustment of the overall tax burden. The Farm Bureau claims Nebraska governments rely too heavily on property tax revenue and that the state needs a more balanced approach among three taxes: property, sales, and income.
LB 338 would shift farmland property assessments from the current market-driven approach to an income-potential approach. It would capitalize the rates based on 10-year yield data for cropland and three years of sales for ranch land. It would not be implemented until 2019. The bill will be heard by the Revenue Committee this afternoon.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]