State Young Farmer Finalists Pages 4, 5 Counties, Individuals To Be Honored Page 3 INSIDE: News in Brief.....................2 Around Farm Bureau.........3 Rules & Regulations........... 6 State & Nation...................7 Leadership Development...8 The Hoosier Farmer ® A Publication for Voting Members of Indiana Farm Bureau NOVEMBER 4, 2013 Issue No. 45 IFB public policy team prepares for 2014 General Assembly —By Mindy Reef Public Relations Team The IFB public policy team will get a head start on the 2014 legislative session on Nov. 19 at the General Assembly’s annual Organization Day. For Farm Bureau members, the 2014 Legislative Kickoff is Jan. 8. Public policy committee chairs should check their emails for district meetings happening from late November until early January. Building strategies and relationships will be the focus of these meetings. A symbol has been designed for members to know when a story or message is related to 2014 public policy programs. The red, white and blue box with four quadrants of art (shown at right) lets you know that what you’re seeing is directly related to 2014 policy. The 2014 Indiana General Assembly officially begins in early January. Members can also get updates on IFB’s public policy team activities by following team members on Twitter. A general Twitter account for public policy, @ifbpolicy, will keep members up to date on issues of common interest. Megan Ritter: @ifbmegan Katrina Hall: @ifbkatrina Justin Schneider: @ifbjustin Amy Cornell: @ifbamy Kyle Cline: @ifbkyle Greg Slipher: @ifbgreg Bob White: @ifbbobw Bob Cherry: @ifbbobc Counties are encouraged to visit the Statehouse. Results of study of soil productivity factors to be revealed soon —Edited by Kathleen M. Dutro Public Relations Team Since 1980, Indiana’s farmland has been valued with a “use-value” concept that adjusts a base value by the relative differences in a given soil’s corn producing capacity. The result can also be reduced by “influence factors” such as being wooded or frequently flooding to reflect characteristics of a specific parcel. Indiana has been a leader in valuing agricultural property based on its productive potential – well in advance of the implementation of “market value” assessing in 2003. Since 2003, the base Indiana Farm Bureau P.O. Box 1290 Indianapolis, IN 46206 value has been recalculated using a complex formula resulting in a value that is essentially capitalized net income per acre. Currently, this formula averages the lowest five of six years taking into account yields of corn and soy beans, market prices, cash rents and the cost of putting out a crop for each of those years. IFB was successful in delaying the implementation of new soil productivity factors that would have increased farmland taxes across the state by $57.4 million annually. SB 319, which passed the General Assembly in February, called for a study to determine what new facNon-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Berne, IN Permit NO. 43 tors should be and if changes were even needed. The Purdue School of Agriculture and the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance have revealed preliminary results to IFB that will be made public very soon. Early indications are that the results address the objections made by IFB. Many lawmakers who represent less rural areas complain that farmland assessments are well below the selling price of farmland. In fact, farmland assessments are the only portion of the local tax base that is growing – primarily due to higher yields from better management practices and advancing technology along with higher commodity prices. The farmland base value has escalated from $1,140 for taxes payable in 2008 to $1,760 for taxes payable next year in 2014. It is easy to see why farmers don’t think they are getting a big break when their taxes are increasing each year unlike the rest of the tax base that has stagnated due to the flat economy. “It is troubling that after reassessment the overall statewide property tax base for Pay 2013 actually declined,” stated Katrina Hall, director of state government relations for Indiana Farm Bureau. Some of the tax base decline is from new pricing tables for commercial and industrial property that the Department of Local Government Finance implemented for the 2012 pay 2013 reassessment. Ironically, farmers who have more modern buildings may have experienced increased values on their barns, tool sheds and livestock facilities. “If this happened to you, please have a discussion with your assessor. You may want to appeal,” stressed Hall. Assessors and their consulting appraisal firms have been looking for value to prop up tax base declines in commercial and industrial properties and residential values that are dramatically reduced by the homestead deduction and supplemental deduction. Along these lines, farmers have been impacted by greater scrutiny to receiving the farmland classification. “Farmers may also need to appeal assessing changes that moved certain acreage from farmland to “excess residential acres” or where assessors have changed influence factors from wooded to non-tillable, for instance,” said Hall. Changes within the farmland class may not be justified and alone can change taxable value by as much as 60 percent. Finally, members in certain counties are telling IFB that they are receiving personal property audit notices. In at least some counties, these notices specifically target agriculture. Members should cooperate with local assessors, but please notify Katrina Hall at khall@ infarmbureau.org when and if you feel that agriculture is singled out. There is no law stating that farmer’s personal property should be audited each year.