Following Pheasants Forever’s lead, OCF joins the case for lowering taxes on acreage enrolled in conservation programs. Read the letter to Tax Commissioner Joe Testa below.
February 29, 2016
Dear Commissioner Testa,
I am writing to you on behalf of the membership of the Ohio Conservation Federation. We represent tens of thousands of sportsmen and women across Ohio. Our membership includes Buckeye Big Buck Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Ohio State Trappers Association, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society.
Ohio landowners — including hunters, anglers, trappers, farmers, and ranchers — are concerned about tax evaluation under the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) for lands enrolled in habitat conservation practices.
State, Federal and local conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Agricultural Lands Easement Program, and the Clean Ohio Program benefit all Ohioans through reduced soil erosion, flood control, improved water quality, and increased wildlife habitat. In return, fixed payments are made to compensate owners for the cost of planting trees and grasses, establishing riparian buffers, and restoring wetlands. When land is enrolled in these programs, owners forfeit the ability to generate income from crop production on those acres for minimum periods of 10 years, 15 years, or in some cases perpetuity.
Excluding conservation acreage from CAUV while assessing it at anything higher than minimum value, not only burdens current landowners, but also threatens future participation in these vital conservation programs. We are encouraged that some county auditors recognize that these conservation practices contribute to a healthy environment, populace, and economy and therefor assess them at their current minimum value.
Rather than penalizing landowners for their commitment to conservation;
We ask the Department of Taxation consider new guidelines on evaluating lands enrolled in long term State, Federal and local conservation programs, that provide a fair property tax assessment to those acres that in many cases provide invaluable ecological services to Ohio, but very limited or no income to their owners.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with your staff to discuss these issues in more detail.
Thank you for your consideration.
Ohio Conservation Federation