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Minnesota farmers ask Governor to give buffer tax credit

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Minnesota Farm Bureau joined 14 other agricultural organizations on 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. 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.

Minnesota’s agricultural organizations asked Gov. Dayton to sign 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 source—utilizing Clean Water Funds—dollars that are specifically designated for projects and initiatives to improve water quality in Minnesota.

“Farm land converted to buffers should not continue to be taxed as though the land is still producing income-generating crops,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap. “This tax credit would help to address this issue without shifting the tax burden onto others. Now is the time for the legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, this legislation.”

Governor Dayton first proposed a version of the tax credit as part of his 2017 Tax Bill.

“I strongly support the buffer tax credit through any funding source that is constitutional,” Governor Dayton said. On Thursday, the Governor sent a letter in response to the agricultural leaders, saying there should be no excuse to not passing the tax credit this year.

Securing the buffer tax credit is a top legislative priority for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. Amanda Bilek, Minnesota Corn Growers Association senior public policy director says although there is bipartisan support for the policy, the proposed source to fund the property tax credit–Clean Water Funds–has raised concerns from Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration about the constitutionality and stability of Clean Water Funds.

“MCGA will continue to advocate for our position to the legislature and the Governor,” Bilek said. “We think it only makes sense to use dedicated funding that aims to ‘protect, restore and enhance water quality’ to help ease the financial burden of landowners working to comply with the buffer law, which was first proposed and enacted to address water quality concerns.”

Tags: Conservation, Water Quality, Farm News, Ag News
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