Democratic legislator Jim Peterson tried for years to pass a plan to improve water quality with agricultural property tax incentives for grassy buffer strips along our streams. Republicans kept shooting his plan down until Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed his own watered-down version of the buffer strips plan.
Not surprisingly, a watered-down plan produces watered-down results. Bob Mercer reports that, three years after enactment, the state isn’t seeing much interest in backing our tractors and fertilizer away from the water’s edge:
According to the state Department of Revenue, 35 applications from rural landowners in nine of South Dakota’s 66 counties were accepted in 2019.
The deadline to file an application for 2020 is October 15.
…In 2018, 31 applicants were approved, totaling 318.24 acres that were accepted statewide for a property tax reduction, according to Stacey Anderson, the department’s communications specialist. She said the 2019 total was 423.56 acres [Bob Mercer, “Few Use S.D. Tax Break for Ag Land Along Water,” KELO-TV, 2020.10.03].
Evidently leaving environmental protection up to individual responsibility works about as well as leaving pandemic control up to individual responsibility. Ecology and public health both take a back seat to the immediate profits everyone desperately needs to stay afloat in South Dakota’s challenging economy.