|The Big Sioux River|
Time To Start Cleaning It Up
(photo from sdpb.org)
The bill will let farmers who decide to participate convert a 50-foot wide strip of land that abuts a waterway back to its naturally grassy state. In return, their respective county assessors will deem that idled acreage to be "non-cropland" and assess it at rates significantly lower than "cropland." Using corn farming as a guide, my good friend Cory Heidelberger has done some of the arithmetic on this in his excellent blog Dakota Free Press and informs us that every mile long buffer strip consists of 6 acres, meaning a corn farmer getting average SD yields will give up 900 bushels of product, or, at current prices, $3600 in sales. Not knowing how much of that is net, nor how much the property tax break in the relevant counties would be, I'm guessing the tradeoff won't amount to much, considering the average farm size in SD is 1400 acres. Going by averages (shaky, I know, but it does provide some context), that average SD farm should produce more than 200 thousand bushels of corn for $800 thousand.
As to the state's loss of revenue, Heidelberger tells me that if the entire 419-mile length of the Big Sioux River in SD went to buffer land, the loss of property tax revenue would amount to $122 thousand. Other buffer-zoned acres throughout the state would add more, but considering the overall sum of property and other taxes generated by South Dakota's $25 billion ag industry, the amount seems trifling.
Given the enthusiastic support that SD's ag-friendly legislature is giving this bill it seems
|Lots Of Work To Do Here|
SB 136 Will Help
(map from wikipedia)
South Dakota and its farmers have come up with a great plan here. The ag industry is showing some real resolve by pushing it through.