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Ag groups, utilities ask Missouri State Tax Commission not to raise taxes on agriculture land

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bevy of representatives for agriculture and utility groups implored the Missouri State Tax Commission (STC) not to change land productivity values and recommend a property tax increase Tuesday. 

State statute mandates the commission establish the productivity values of agricultural land every two years which could result in a property tax increase on agricultural land. A proposed increase by the STC is subject to legislative approval. 

The last time the STC approved an increase, which the legislature signed off on, was in 2015. 

Those testifying before the commission Tuesday pointed to drought, historic flooding, and other natural disasters that have heavily weighed on Missouri farmers, particularly in recent years. An increase in property taxes would be detrimental to many farmers, representatives said. 

Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau president, told the three-person commission that he harvested corn while in “standing water” last week. 

“When times are tough, as they are now, everyone feels the pressure,” Hurst said. “To be honest, even without a tax increase, it will take a good bit of work just to stabilize the migration of people from rural areas of the state.” 

Warren Wood, an Ameren vice president, noted utility companies utilize agricultural lands for things such as wind farms. An increase in property taxes would result in an increase in rates for customers, he said. 

Representatives for the Missouri Corn Growers and Missouri Soybeans associations as well as for Spire, the natural gas company, also testified against an increase in productivity values. 

But Chariton County Assessor Darrin Gladbach suggested property taxes were too low and commissioners had a legal obligation to raise productivity values if needed. 

“If agriculture shouldn’t be taxed at a higher rate, that’s fine, but then the laws should be changed,” he said. 

Commissioners are expected to review testimony given Tuesday and will make a decision by the end of the year. The STC is made up of Chairman Bruce Davis and Commissioners Victor Callahan and Will Kraus.