Letter: As election nears, a dim view for family farms
WORTHINGTON, Minn. - The elections are fast approaching. How we vote will matter. Here is the view from one family farm. We farm 650 acres -- not a large farm for the year 2016, but a true family farm. Our house (built in 1910) and 278 owned acre...
WORTHINGTON, Minn. - The elections are fast approaching. How we vote will matter.
Here is the view from one family farm. We farm 650 acres -- not a large farm for the year 2016, but a true family farm. Our house (built in 1910) and 278 owned acres are in ISD 518. Currently we pay $3,088.53 in real estate taxes to ISD 518 or $11.10 per acre. Passing the new school referendum would make that amount double or more for the next 30 years. Landlords generally like to pass that added cost along on rented acres, also.
Next, we are losing our health insurance. Thanks to Democrats and Obamacare, our health insurance premium went up $7,500 in two years time so that we were paying $28,000 a year. Now it will be raised 50 percent to 67 percent? Sound affordable? Even worse, we will be losing our choice of doctors and hospitals. The only plan available in southwest Minnesota is a Sanford plan, meaning we can no longer doctor through Avera or the Mayo system. The other plan is only accepting 7,000 new enrollees for the whole state.
And then, our other farm ground is in Judicial Ditch No. 13 territory, where our commissioners are proposing a $14 million county ditch rebuild. It seems to me a taxpayer-funded ditch system should only include a main artery tile or ditch that everyone’s private tile would flow into. Instead, the system includes hundreds of miles of branch tiles, which raises the cost to $812 per acre payable with interest over 20 years added to the real estate tax.
As if farming isn’t stressful enough without all these issues, along with low commodity prices.
A more fair way to pay for any buildings -- county, city or school -- that are decided on by voting would be through a Minnesota income tax surcharge. But since that isn’t the way it’s set up, those who feel passionate about new buildings could always pledge to donate a few thousand of their own income each year for the next 30 years. That would bring some relief to ag land. What is the percent of real estate tax to income for a business like JBS? Far less than for most farms, I’m sure. It would be nice if JBS and other businesses would fund the costs for new athletic facilities.
At any rate, the view for a lot of family farms isn’t looking all that pretty. Taxes and health care costs keep going up and up. Please vote your conscience on Nov. 8.
Editor's note: Ahlers is from Worthington, Minn.