Ag land measure OK’d by South Dakota Senate

Scott Waltman
Farm Forum

PIERRE — A proposal to loosen the criteria that determine if land is classified as agricultural for property tax purposes cleared a Senate Taxation Committee with 6-1 vote on Monday morning and passed the full Senate Tuesday afternoon with a 30-5 vote. Senate Bill 7 now moves to the House for consideration.

Now, two of three criteria have to be met for property to be classified as agricultural:

• That the principal use of the land is for agriculture.

• That in at least of three of the five previous years, a gross income of at least 10 percent of the taxable value of the land was derived and that the income was at least $2,500.

• That the parcel is at least 20 unplatted acres or part of a management unit that is at least 80 acres.

Under the proposal, the principle use criteria would become mandatory and the income criteria would shift to either-or instead of both.

In other words, only the $2,500 or the gross income threshold would have to be met.

Property taxes are lower on ag land.

After the hearing, Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot, said that most people getting into agriculture nowadays are small, local food producers, and the measure is aimed at helping them.

It’s not intended to benefit hobby farmers who, for instance, have a horse in the backyard or to allow developers to have land defined as agricultural, he said.

Sen. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, said the bill makes it tougher to game the system.

The former Meade County commissioner said he hopes it helps counties better define what ag land is.

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