As a third-generation family farmer who supports and defends farming at every turn, I’m stunned that a measure headed for the November statewide ballot could result in the further disappearance of farms and farmland.

Not only will the farming community directly suffer if the ballot initiative to raise property taxes by up to $12.5 billion annually passes, but the tax hike will also hurt all Californians by increasing the state’s already high cost of living.

While the proponents of the measure claim it will only raise property taxes for commercial and industrial properties, the reality is that the measure is an attack on farms, the fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products we produce and will ultimately translate to more expensive grocery bills for California families.

Like all Californians, farmers benefit from the predictability and certainty provided by Proposition 13, which calculates property taxes based on 1 percent of the property value at the time of purchase and caps increases at 2 percent a year, allowing property taxes to increase slowly and predictably. Prop 13 applies to commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential property.

The certainty provided by Prop 13 in keeping property taxes predictable is a relief to farmers who have so many other uncertain issues to deal with – from the weather and water to drought and foreign trade deals.

But this new state ballot measure will destroy Prop 13, raising property taxes on agricultural improvements and fixtures. That means higher property taxes for structures necessary to perform the tasks involved with bringing food from farm to fork, including processing facilities, dairies, wineries, and packaging and distribution centers.

The property taxes on these structures will dramatically skyrocket if the initiative passes. In addition, fruit and nut trees and grapevines will be taxed at full market value after they reach maturity. Even irrigation systems, fences, silos, storage sheds, feedlots and wind machines will face higher property taxes!

Without a doubt, the measure will be the largest property tax increase in California history. And farmers and consumers are the ones who will be paying it.

 Read the rest of the article here.

Originally published in the Visalia Times Delta