By Kirby Hettver, President, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, DeGraff
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is proud of our advocacy efforts in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., on behalf of Minnesota’s 24,000 farmers. Recently, MCGA partnered with other agriculture groups and the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) to strongly advocate for a 40-percent property tax credit on ag property taxes attributable to voter-enacted building levies. This credit is more commonly known as the “Ag2School” credit. A recent column by the Worthington Citizens for Progress, “MREA take on ‘Ag2School’ is misleading at best” criticized the property tax credit and MCGA.
The Ag2School credit was a top legislative priority for MCGA and other agriculture groups the last few years. According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, while statewide property taxes had risen 42 percent over the last eight years, property taxes increased 114 percent on ag land. Minnesota farmers were paying a significantly higher portion of property taxes for voter-enacted building levies. Despite claims made by the Worthington Citizens for Progress Committee, the passage of the Ag2School tax credit is good news for farmers and rural communities. It is estimated 240,000 parcels of land statewide will be positively impacted by the Ag2School credit.
Further, the Ag2School tax credit is permanent law and the state contribution for the property tax credit is an on-going appropriation, meaning it is already factored into future state budgets. It would take a full vote by the Minnesota House and Senate and a signature by the Governor to amend or repeal the Ag2School credit program. In this highly unlikely situation, MCGA would strongly advocate against it.
MCGA actively worked with its partners to establish an equitable system for rural school funding, and will continue to do so with all issues that impact our state’s corn growers.
Finally, I must address the unfair character attack on MCGA with respect to the buffer law. Since the law was first proposed, MCGA has been an active player, spending a significant amount of time and effort to work with our members, other agricultural groups, the legislature and the administration to address concerns with the buffer law. In addition to the countless hours working at the legislature, MCGA has worked to increase public awareness of buffer-related issues and invested in tools that help farmers use alternative practices.
While the Worthington Citizens for Progress Committee may feel they can comment on these efforts from the stands, the view is different for active players working to advance the ball against the opponent.