There’s never been a more important time for property tax relief, the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska said Friday, as the state legislature considers a sweeping tax relief and school funding bill – LB 289.
On average, Nebraska Ag producers pay $22,000 a year in property taxes, whether they make a profit or not, according to a 2016 USDA study.
That is by far the highest average property tax of Ag producers in any state in the U.S. It is nearly double the average payment ($13,300) in the next highest state – California.
Closer to home, the average Ag operation in Iowa pays $9,600 a year in property taxes. In Kansas — $9,400. In Missouri – just $2,686.
And, Nebraska’s average property tax payment is 4-5 times higher than most of the rest of the top 15 states in the U.S., the study says.
High property taxes, coupled with depressed commodity prices, rising input costs and deteriorating credit, place Nebraska in the midst of an agricultural financial crisis.
That is especially true for cattle producers. Of the top 5 beef cow states in the country, Nebraska was the only state in 2018 that showed a decrease in the numbers of beef cows, while South Dakota had an increase of 8%.
The situation is compounded because nationally, the farmer’s share of $1 of food at the retail counter is now only 17 cents — the smallest portion of the food dollar since 1993, when the USDA began reporting the data.
The property tax burden is crushing agriculture producers.
When it comes to state aid to schools, Nebraska ranks 48th of 50 states in the amount of state revenue used to fund local schools. 175 of the 244 school districts in the state receive no state support through the state aid formula that was constructed in the early 1990s.
“Gov. Ricketts’ solution to this problem is cutting spending, which has no relation to the real issue — a lack of state support for school funding.” said Al Davis, ICON board member and a former state senator from Hyannis. “Ricketts is completely out of touch with the crisis in rural Nebraska. Many hardworking farmers and ranchers will be forced to exit the industry due to his lack of engagement at this time. It’s a disgrace the way he has treated Ag producers when they are the ones who put him in office.”
The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) represent, promote and protect the interests of the state’s independent cattle producers and feeders.