Assessment cap gives some relief to farmers
CAPITOL Last year, Linda Cross was paying $85 to have her pasture-raised lambs processed into food.
This year, it’s $100 each.
Processing, feed and equipment are among necessities for the Cross family’s Cripplebush Creek farm, and price cuts are infrequent for all of them. So for Cross, this week’s approval of a new state law limiting tax assessment increases on agricultural land to 2 percent is a relief.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced he signed the legislation sought by the farming community, which has seen assessments increase as much as 10 percent a year.
“Agriculture is big business in New York and our state government is committed to doing everything we can to help this vital industry thrive and continue to create jobs,” Cuomo said in a news release.
The tax cap doesn’t mean Cross can buy a new tractor, but its approval is an acknowledgement of the difficulties faced in the agricultural community.
“It’s some small recognition that we aren’t out there with tons of money. We have money invested in tractors and equipment and other things that makes us look as though we have a lot of assets,” she said. “We have assets, but I can’t sell a tractor.”
Farmer Susan Keith said prices don’t often go down on supplies for the Creek’s Edge Elk Farm in Minden. Grain prices “went through the roof” after the ethanol production craze began several years ago, she said.
It’s a cost that leads some to limit the amount of important grain needed by the farm’s dairy cows, she added.
“It’s a vital nutrient for cows but it costs so much money that people can’t afford it.”
For Keith, taxes aren’t much of a drain on the psyche — she just pays them each year.
“Taxes are just something that you deal with and you don’t think a lot about,” she said.
But being in Montgomery County — labeled as one of the highest taxed of the state’s counties — some sort of limit on tax increases is a help, Keith said.
The new agricultural assessment law affects roughly 25 percent of the state’s property, according to the governor’s office.
Up until now, agricultural land assessments could increase by as much as 10 percent each year, a threshold that’s been “repeatedly hit” in the past several years, according to the New York Farm Bureau.