A bill passed by the State Senate this week is heading to the House, and would change the way farmers pay property taxes.
Since the 1970s, the state has used a formula to determine taxes based on farmland’s agricultural value, as opposed to full market value. In recent years, those numbers have risen quickly due to several factors, such as the taxation of land used for conservation – such as cover crops -- at the same rate as regular farmland.
Summit County State Sen. Frank LaRose co-sponsored the new bill that changes all that, and he says it's one way farmers can continue growing instead of selling their land – which was the whole reason the formula was put into place decades ago.
“Too many people were getting out of the business of agriculture," LaRose says. "In many cases, these are family farms that have been around for generations. But people just couldn’t economically justify it anymore.”
LaRose says the bill also helps farmers who have seen falling commodity prices in recent years. He estimates that 60 percent of the food grown in Ohio is exported, and he says that’s one area where farmers can concentrate to shore up prices in the future.
“I had the chance to visit Taiwan a couple years ago and they were raving about the high-quality of Ohio’s soybeans, and how much they try to buy soybeans from Ohio," LaRose says. "Of course, in Taiwan they were making tofu out of them [and] they need a high-quality soybean. Doing things to encourage trade and export, it’s good for Ohio farmers.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was in Cincinnati on Thursday to announce a reorganization of his department that includes creating an undersecretary of trade.