Montgomery County farmland values to jump 78%, challenging beginning farmers
According to the County Auditor’s Office, the value of farmland in Montgomery County enrolled in a state tax savings program is set to increase an average of 78%, though taxes will not rise nearly as much as values.
Montgomery County has more than 104,000 acres of farmland enrolled in Ohio’s Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program, a legally complex property value adjustment for Ohio farmland.
Through it, farmland is taxed at a rate that reflects its value for agricultural use rather than as a development property to encourage farmers to keep their land for the purpose of commercial agriculture.
This year's increase is largely driven by the jump in corn and soybean prices and yields compared to 2020, Karl Keith, Montgomery County Auditor said.
“It reflects the state of the industry and how much it has improved in the last three years,” Keith said. “This program is one of those things that is there and available to farmers so that they can continue to be successful and continue to provide commercial agriculture in the state.”
Corn prices at the end of 2020 were at $3.97 per bushel compared to $6.22 in July of 2023. Soybean prices were at $10.60 per bushel in 2020, in July they were at $14.70, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The value reduction offered by the program results in lower tax bills. With an average CAUV increase from $1,570 to about $2,800 an acre, the higher values will lead to lower tax savings for farm owners, according to Keith.
However, while the increase in values might benefit some farmers, it also creates a barrier for beginning farmers trying to enter the market, especially as older farmers age out of the industry, Nicole Wolcott, a policy program organizer at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), said.
“Ultimately it all boils down to that money. Even if you have the people, even if you have those connections and those personal relationships of someone that you're transitioning to, money is a big issue.” Wolcott said.
Accessing farmland and capital are among the major hurdles for beginning farmers in Ohio. It’s one of the reasons the Ohio legislature passed the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program in 2022. It encourages retiring farmers to sell or rent their livestock, land or equipment to beginning farmers with the promise of a 3% income tax credit.
Still, Wolcott said there needs to be better state and federal policy that reflects the needs of beginning farmers.
“Our Midwest state is a booming and thriving agriculture field and we need to do better. We need to be better at access and support and resources for all of our beginning farmers,” Wolcott said.
Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.