SDCA monitoring legislative issues

Farm Forum

As the 2016 legislative season begins, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) will be monitoring several issues.

The Ag Land Assessment Oversight & Advisory Task Force has three proposals before this year’s legislature. The first bill would classify native grassland as noncropland for property tax purposes. This designation would also apply to land that has been seeded to perennial vegetation for at least 30 years and used for animal grazing or left unharvested. The second bill proposes to clarify the criteria for land to qualify as agricultural land by removing the stipulation that the land must provide 1/3 of a family’s income. It would also allow smaller acreages that are part of a management unit to qualify. The third bill from the committee would appropriate $175,000 for the SDSU Department of Economics to update data used in soil tables and to research the value and methods used to determine agricultural land production capacity.

The County Government Study Committee is bringing forward several revisions and pieces of cleanup legislation. The cleanup legislation will be related to reporting requirements for the county general fund, administrative functions of running the courthouse, and cleaning up outdated language or obsolete functions. The first of the anticipated revisions would be to change the distribution from the alcoholic beverage tax to give 1/3 each to the state, counties, and cities. In addition, the committee suggests revised fees in order to compensate counties for services they provide and language to authorize counties to impose a one percent sales tax.

Finally, we anticipate at least one piece of legislation to encourage livestock development. It will build on legislation passed in 2015 providing clarifications to the conditional use permitting process for Confined Animal Feeding Operations. We expect the bill to clarify the vote required when county commissions act as a board of adjustment, clarify what can be appealed, allow appeals to be consolidated and define who may have standing to file an appeal, and allow counties to amend a zoning ordinance in the same way cities do. The second goal is to hold discussions with livestock producers and counties about ways to further improve the zoning process.

For more information about these and other issues, get involved by joining SDCA. To join online, please visit our website at