BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — At a time when Kansas farmers are in an economic downturn, an increase in land prices is what farmers don’t want to see.
“If there’s more increases, it just is costing us more and more money with lower crop prices, said Richard Rugan, who farms in Barton County. “It’s a struggle for everyone.”
The agriculture values varied greatly county-by-county. Just in Barton County, farmers should expect an increase this year of about nine percent — this is on top of last year’s hike of 14 percent.
Rugan said that’s a high cost to pay.
“Our taxes are part of our expenses against our operations,” he said. “The ultimate effect is less income the less disposable income you have left at the end of the day.”
Statewide agriculture valuations are estimated to increase by $31 to $184 per acre of dry land, while Doniphan County in the northeast corner of Kansas increased by $128 to $1,018 per acre of dry land and Grant County decreased by $2 to $57 per acre of dry land.
Why are farmers seeing high farmland prices?
According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, this year’s average is based on data from 2008-2015, a time when many crops were selling at record levels. Kansas has used an eight-year average to calculate agriculture valuations since 1989. The process evens out fluctuations in commodity prices and creates a more stable and predictable valuation for the taxing jurisdictions and farmers.
“We need to at least allow for the opportunity to re-evaluate when crop prices and livestock prices are low, or at least re-average,” said KSN ag expert John Jenkinson. “So that this doesn’t put some farmers and ranchers completely out of business just because they have to pay property tax.”
Until then, farmers can dispute the numbers with the county appraisers.
“We can make mistakes, and so just come in and make sure that we have the right acreage, make sure we have it in the right soil type and the right use,” said Barton County appraiser Barbara Esfeld.
She said it’s common for farmers to come in, and she expects this year won’t be any different. However, in some cases, farmers will end up paying more taxes.