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Bill to cap farmland taxes in Cuomo’s hands

Advocates urge Cuomo to sign 2 percent limit

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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— Farmers could see some stabilization of the taxes they pay on farmland if a bill approved by the state Legislature is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The New York Farm Bureau this week hailed the Assembly’s passage of a 2 percent agricultural assessment cap — one that would spare farmers the major tax hikes they’ve endured on their agricultural land in the past. The bill awaits consideration by Cuomo.

Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman said the current law allows for tax increases of up to 10 percent on agricultural land.

“For the past several years, we’ve been hitting that cap,” he said.

According to Farm Bureau figures developed by Farm Credit East, property taxes for farmers throughout the United States averaged $5,186 in 2011.

In New York, the average was $7,649, an estimated 15 percent of a farm’s net income.

Middleburgh farmer David Lloyd of Maple Downs Farm II said Wednesday that it makes sense to limit tax increases on farms such as his dairy.

For one thing, he said, farmers need plenty of land to grow corn and hay to feed the cows.

And a dairy such as the Lloyds’ farm is bringing money into Schoharie County from another state, because it sends milk for processing to Massachusetts.

“The money that we bring in from Boston, for example, is spent in this rural community,” Lloyd said.

It seems even more fair, Lloyd said, when one considers the change in the cost of supplies, which often rises as fast or faster than taxes.

Ten years ago, Lloyd said, a ton of fertilizer cost $150. Today, it’s closer to $650.

Farm Bureau representatives and state legislators called for Cuomo to sign the bill and suggested the current tax structure puts New York’s farmers at a major disadvantage.

“Land taxes are crushing farmers, threatening to drive many right out of business, and making it harder to keep generations-old farms in the family,” state Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Patty Ritchie said in the release.

 
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