Tonawanda News

Opinion

September 4, 2013

CONFER: Ease the tax growth on farmers

Tonawanda News — It has been written here before that property taxes are the most unfair of all the taxes. School, county, and town levies penalize people for accumulating wealth (their house and land) and for improving upon it (home improvements) while rewarding people who do neither (by having them pay less for access to the same local services).

That inequity is especially pronounced when it comes to agriculture. Farms throughout Upstate represent, by far, the largest taxpayers in rural communities; after all, farming is the most land-intensive business there is. Farming families use no more public services — like roads, fire protection and schools — than non-farming families, yet they end up paying tax bills that are multiples of what their neighbors pay.

The burden placed upon farmers is mammoth, even with help that they get in the form of special agricultural assessments, farm building exemptions, and school tax credits. When it comes to the final tax bill, New York farmers pay an average of $38.41 per farm acre.

That inequality on the home front creates major inequality in the marketplace. Know that just like manufacturers, farmers operate in a global economy — this isn’t roadside stand versus roadside stand. They are trying to get their produce, meat and milk into canneries, processors and stores throughout the world, as are farmers everywhere from Washington to Brazil. That’s why you see such a diversity of sources when looking at labels while grocery shopping.

Farmers have to first battle what Mother Nature throws at them and, then, when they are done, they have to battle for market share. Like with any product, it’s all based on what one can sell at a price the market can bear. Every penny is critical.

That’s why New York farmers take a beating.

The national average for taxes per farm acre is only $12.34. So, growers and dairymen in the Empire State are paying more than 3 times what their competition is paying in other states for their most important asset — land.

Text Only
Opinion
  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: Personal development, rendered in steel Accepting the premise that everyone needs to fill the same amount of time every day (24 hours, every day), some people use theirs rebuilding things, tangible things, and thus fulfill a few intangible goals.

    July 18, 2014

  • WALLACE: Festival season is underway Summer is the season of fairs and festivals. From Canal Fest in the Tonawandas to the Allentown Art Festival and Italian Heritage Festival in Buffalo to the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, the Western New York area has no shortage of things to do with the family over the summer.

    July 17, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: King George's abdication leaves many questions I've covered Niagara County politics for 10 years and it's been a fascinating -- and often infuriating -- experience. With the news the man known with equal parts respect and cynicism as "King George" is walking away it's about to get more interesting.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Canal Fest, here we come This column should be titled "Roads and Streets." First of all, Meadow Drive is finally open. Although it took very long to be completed, it's beautiful. Riding by the other day brought into focus how many people will use this to cut across town. One less thing for residents to complain about.

    July 12, 2014

  • ADAMCZYK: Homesick for someplace I've never been You stumble over things that make you wonder. I do, at least, and the latest is one of those advertising artifacts from yesteryear that encourage me to ponder what's changed and what never will.

    July 11, 2014

  • WALLACE: Playing politics as usual The immigration crisis is just the most recent example of how dysfunctional Washington, D.C. is right now.

    July 10, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg A stunning scandal in Mississippi-voting|DUVALL: A stunning scandal in Mississippi We don't tend to talk a whole lot about Mississippi on this paper's editorial page and for good reason. It's a long way away in both distance and temperament. But I swear this will be worth it.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: Employers don't need 24/7 access to workers

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Taste of Buffalo sneaks up again This time next week you can find me tromping somewhere up and down Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. I'll be there with tens of thousands of my closest friends.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo