Over the weekend, the state’s largest farm organization met to set policy for the coming year. Taxes topped the list of priorities for Indiana Farm Bureau. The daylong meeting produced spirited debate on several issues, but one issue that saw a unanimous consensus was property taxes. IFB President Don Villwock said farmers are united in their opposition to the proposed soil productivity formula, “Some counties would see a 35% increase in their farmland property tax as a result of this new formula; coming in a drought year, that is a real slap in the face for farmers.” The Department of Local Government Finance set the formula last year based on data that was more than 10 years old. Villwock told HAT more time is needed to develop a new formula that is based on reality, “Even the agronomy department at Purdue said there was not a validity of the data used to calculate the new formula.” NRCS has also stated they need more time to study the formula. Farm Bureau lobbied for, and got, a one year delay in the implementation of the new assessment. Now Villwock says legislators must step up and address a long term solution to the issue, “It is time for lawmakers to take a leadership role on this issue.”
Policy delegates also sent a strong message on federal taxes, especially the estate tax which is set to increase sharply at the first of the year. Villwock said, if Congress allows these increase to go into effect, it will be devastating for farm families, “The exemption will drop from $5 million to $1 million and the rate goes from 35% to 50%. I think that is unconscionable.” AFBF tax specialist Pat Wolf told the group on Saturday that no action on tax reform will take place in Washington until after the election. She said there are some in Congress who want to let the taxes increase so they can lower them again later in the year and take credit for it.
The IFB policy resolutions are developed on the county level and then brought before a meeting of delegates and IFB board members from around the state. These policies will set the organization’s position on state issues. IFB positions on federal issues will be presented to the American Farm Bureau Federation for adoption into their national policy. Over 270 delegates participated in Saturday’s meeting in Indianapolis.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/08/taxwrap.mp3|titles=Taxes Top Priority for Indiana Farm Bureau]