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SB 4 Simplifies Ag Productivity Tax… More Complicated Amendments to Come?

Holy cow! If you want less government, turn to Republican Gary Cammack and Democrats Craig Kennedy and Steven McCleerey. They are sponsoring Senate Bill 4 at the behest of the Agricultural Land Assessment Implementation and Oversight Advisory Task Force.

This bill strikes five statutes currently governing the classification of ag land, including the contentious percentage limits on annual increases and decreases. It also strikes the county director of equalization from the process of determining values for each soil type. SB 4 simply says ag land shall be divided into the eight classes defined by the USDA soil conservation service and orders SDSU to provide soil classification data to each county.

That’s a lot of language to strike; I can’t imagine the Legislature will leave things that simple.

Of course, if the Legislature really wanted simple, not to mention fair, they’d strike the whole ag tax system and say to farmers, “O.K., how much did you make last year? Great, send the county 3%.”


  1. Evan 2018-12-17

    Hey, Cory!

    What experience do you have in the Ag sector to make your opinion more valid?

    Also, since you are running for representation, what makes you qualified to make decisions that affect a multi-billion dollar enterprise? What have you done outside of blogging politics that would make you qualified?

  2. Roger Cornelius 2018-12-17

    Should I respond to the resident gnat? Nah! He isn’t worth the time or energy.

  3. Evan 2018-12-17

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, Roger! Sorry if I come off as a “gnat” to you.

  4. Jason 2018-12-17

    Cory wrote:

    Of course, if the Legislature really wanted simple, not to mention fair, they’d strike the whole ag tax system and say to farmers, “O.K., how much did you make last year? Great, send the county 3%.”

    You obviously don’t understand how a different soil type can determine yield.

    I know you are anti-science, but you should probably look into it before making a silly statement like that.

  5. Jason 2018-12-17

    The other problem would be no farmer would show a profit.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-17

    No profit, no tax—that would be far simpler than the current system, and arguably fairer.

  7. Francis Schaffer 2018-12-17

    I wasn’t aware that in the South Dakota law the NRCS soil survey is named as the instrument used to determine land productivity. That seems to me to be incredibly short sighted as even the NRCS warns a person using the soil survey not to use it at a scale less than 1/20,000, which means most fields in South Dakota would need some other instrument to show the soil delineations and productivity potential. Another aspect that should also be stated, is that not all counties have updated soil surveys, Hand County South Dakota’s soil survey is from the 1950’s so it is far less accurate and consistent than those from the 1990’s or newer. This being said when someone appeals their taxes can the taxing instrument be called into question as inaccurate or plain wrong for a person’s field? Evan, Jason – thoughts?

  8. mike from iowa 2018-12-17

    Differences in soil type, texture and slope can be an important consideration in using your data to make better decisions. But I would encourage you to look deeper. I still remember a presentation in the late 1990’s from two USDA ARS scientists, Doug Karlen and Tom Colvin. It was the early days of precision ag and in their initial test field using AgLeader’s 2000 yield monitor, they discovered that there were more yield differences within soil types than between soil types. While that might not be surprising to some, it was too others. It signaled that yield variability can’t be explained by just understanding the variability that Mother Nature created. What we’ve done through human activity over time can be, and frequently is, just as important as nature

    Naturally, the Troll don’t know everything. His whole life is dedicated to be a burr under Cory’s saddle.

  9. mike from iowa 2018-12-17

    In a related item, Drumpf and Putin announced the administration is sending out the last half of the 12 billion in aid to farmers. It was postponed because Drumpf thought China would buy soy beans. China did buy some soybeans so drumpf released the money anyway.

  10. grudgenutz 2018-12-17

    Evan, most folks in politics have no “qualifications” for their jobs.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-17

    Francis that’s a really interesting point. I think I get what you’re saying—NRCS says its measurements are not to be used for large-scale generalizations, right?—but can you give us a practical example and explain that 1/20,000-scale idea?

  12. Jason 2018-12-17

    Hail and drought wipe out the all of the crops in a school district.

    Under Cory’s tax system the teachers will not get paid.

  13. Nick Nemec 2018-12-18

    Good grief Jason, under Cory’s system of an income tax the school money would be run through the state aid for schools formula. You are really grasping at thinner and thinner straws with that argument.

  14. Jason 2018-12-18


    Re-read the what Cory said above. He’s talking about property taxes not a State income tax.

  15. Caroline 2018-12-18

    Francis Schaffer brings up excellent points. One that I find interesting is that not all counties are using up to date soil survey information. Does that seem like fair taxation? Shouldn’t any tax increases or changes be stopped until all counties are brought up to date with survey information if that is one of the important determining factors? Also, in my county it took about seven years to completely re-evaluate all property in the county. Some were paying on new valuations 5 and 6 years while others were still paying taxes on outdated valuations. Fair taxation?? It seems Cory’s idea makes more sense. Let’s just toss out property taxes all together and do a state income tax. It seems that our low cost of living and no income taxes aren’t really attracting masses of people moving here anyway.

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