The top goal for Indiana Farm Bureau for this session of the Indiana General Assembly was to get a reduction in the property tax bills that farmer pay. As the legislative session nears its end, this goal is still far from a certainty.Senate Bill 308 had the kind of language Farm Bureau wanted, a change in the assessment that would roll back the productivity formula and lower t he property taxes paid by farmers. But last week, a House committee removed that language. The bill now calls for a freeze in property taxes on farmland, but at a level 63% higher than in 2007. IFB’s Katrina Hall said farmland is the only class of property that has seen an increase since 2007, “Homeowners have seen their property taxes go down, while farmers have seen their taxes go up sharply.”
Despite hundreds of farmers making personal visits to the Statehouse to lobby for lower taxes, IFB President Randy Kron says the message is not getting through to lawmakers, “We have had an incredible number of our members at the Statehouse this year. In fact, on one day, we had over 150 farmers on hand talking with lawmakers.” Yet, he feels there is a real disconnect with elected officials about the state of the farm economy, “We just don’t have a lot of farmers in the General Assembly anymore.”
Kron says the soil productivity factor issue has been fixed, but farmers still need a change in the property tax formula, “Our message is simple: we need the original language restored in SB 308.” With only 2 weeks left in the session, this week is a critical one for getting any changes made. Hall is urging Farm Bureau members and other farm groups to unite for a last minute push to restore the original language in the Senate bill.