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Lawmakers must support Ohio farmers

DEAR EDITOR:

“Everyone says they support Ohio’s farmers, but as a state we must do a better job at putting our money and policy where our mouth is when it comes to property taxes for farmers.

In my county of Ashtabula, over 75% of our 108,000 acres in CAUV farmland are mandated by the state to increase in value over 300%. It is simply shocking and likely similar in Trumbull County. While value increase does not equal tax increase dollar for dollar, this mandate will kill some small farm operations, and I am devastated to be the boots on the ground witness unable to change it.

Every three years property values and CAUV values are updated to follow the real estate market. Homeowners generally understand that their property is worth much more since 2020 with inflation and a booming real estate market. Ashtabula County’s average increase is 32%.

I challenge someone to find a farm in Ohio which has seen a 300% increase in their income and business position. The CAUV formula for soil values is intended to mirror the income of an average Ohio crop farm with adjustments for bad to excellent soil. Simply put, it is failing the job and Columbus appears silent as we near the impending harm of 2024 tax bills.

CAUV does save farmers tax money, but the program misses the mark and harms farmers with large swings in taxation and the practice of unfair, substantial tax increases at the exact time farm costs are at historic highs and record acres of Ohio farm land are leaving production.

Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1972 establishing CAUV as a means to help farmers whose profit margins are always thin but importance to Ohio cannot be overstated. It now has been over 50 years, and it is time to change CAUV in a meaningful way.

As I hold town hall discussions and speak at many events in Ashtabula to prepare taxpayers, I am encouraging everyone to make sure Columbus knows our farmers need help before this tax crisis hits. The CAUV spike crosses county and regional lines across the State of Ohio with all areas impacted.

I have strong faith in the Ohio Farm Bureau’s efforts to capture Columbus’ attention and help farmers and know that a fix is possible. These are shallow assurances, though, to those facing a pending avalanche of tax changes. Farmers do so much for us, the least we as citizens can do is stand by them. State policy should agree with public statements — we support Ohio’s farmers.

DAVID THOMAS

Ashtabula County auditor

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