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Opinion: Now is not the time to raise property taxes on Missouri farmers

When I was growing up on the farm, we had no air conditioning, limited heat, and the only new vehicle we ever owned was a Gleaner M2 combine. So I understand firsthand the struggles of Missouri’s farmers. Every year is a battle for survival, with farming families at the mercy of the weather, markets, and national politics. These past few years have brought additional difficulties few could have imagined, from droughts and flooding to a pandemic, and now a supply chain crisis the likes of which we have never seen. With all of these challenges pressing on the farm families of our state, now is not the time to add to their burdens by raising property taxes on farmland.

Every two years, the State Tax Commission evaluates whether to raise property taxes on farmland and makes a recommendation to the Missouri Legislature, which the legislature can accept or reject. Any proposed tax increase must be weighed against the increasing costs on farmers at a time when prices for equipment, supplies, and labor are higher than ever. Farmers are getting hit by the same skyrocketing inflation that is affecting us all, as shown by the Fertilizer Price Index, which is at an all-time high.

Rep. J. Eggleston

On top of these concerns, the Biden administration and his bureaucrats at the EPA are considering changing the regulations on pesticides and herbicides, which would throw the 2022 growing season into further disarray. Farmers’ plans for the growing season will be jeopardized if the EPA goes through with their proposed changes, and there could be a decrease in crop yields as well because farmers will have to find alternative methods of handling weeds and other pests.

Finally, our economy is facing a tight labor shortage, affecting America’s ability to manufacture and move goods. This supply chain crisis means it is more difficult than ever for farmers and ranchers to get the seed, feed, and equipment they need while also trying to deliver their crops and livestock to market. With our own federal government burdening Missouri farmers through its policies, the State Tax Commission should not add to their woes.

Considering the soaring costs our farmers are facing, it would be unwise to further burden our farmers and their families by raising taxes on farmland during these extraordinary times. A tax increase is a chief concern of agriculture groups from around the state who represent the interests of our farmers. The State Tax Commission should recommend a zero tax increase for farmers this year. If it does not, the Missouri Legislature will have an opportunity to weigh in during the upcoming session, and I bet most members of the Missouri House will oppose such an increase. I know I will.