Corn growers are starting to lobby for a state property tax credit on cropland that must by law be devoted to vegetated buffers along ditches, streams, rivers and lakes.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association sent a letter to candidates for governor and the Minnesota House of Representatives asking them to support the tax credit for farmers, which was introduced in the 2018 legislative session but failed due to a disagreement on the funding source.
On Friday, the corn growers said it is "vital" that this legislation be passed during the 2019 legislative session, and they will work "tirelessly" on it.
The buffer law — passed in 2015 and put into effect last year — requires farmers to plant perennial vegetation at least 30 feet and an average of 50 feet from public streams, creeks, rivers and lakes, or propose an alternative method of conservation that provides equal or better water-quality benefits.
Many Minnesota farmers did not support the law in the first place, and they have complained for years that they still have to pay property taxes on the land.
"As Minnesota farmers suffer through their fifth consecutive year of depressed farm income, it is vital this unfair tax burden is addressed by elected officials in 2019," Brian Thalmann, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said in a statement. "Today's letter to candidates stresses the need for advocates who will work to pass this much-needed tax credit during a time when farmers are experiencing a number of economic headwinds."
The proposed tax credit would give farmers $50 per acre that is in compliance with the buffer law.
In a letter delivered to Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders last May, the corn growers and 14 other agricultural organizations promised the tax credit would be an election issue if it were not passed during the 2017-2018 legislative session.