Bumper tax crop for farms

The good times of high crop prices and low interest rates come with a price for owners of farm ground.

This summer those owning agricultural land were informed by a letter from Wood County Auditor Michael
Sibbersen that the value of that ground has more than doubled since the last time it was assessed,
jumping to $3,930 from $1,770 an acre for Hoytville clay, which is typical of the county. That means the
taxes assessed on that property will also increase, though not at the same rate as the increase in land
values.
The increase in value, explained Sibbersen, is part of the triennial updating of Current Agricultural Use
Values for tax purposes. The higher taxes will be paid next year.
The letter was a way of giving farmers and landowners some warning about what was coming, he said.
Agricultural land — 9,653 parcels totaling 321,340 acres — represents 81 percent of the acreage in the
county.
The Current Agricultural Use Values are calculated based on crop yield, crop prices, production costs for
different soil types and interest rates. Not included are any government payments.
The calculations use a seven-year rolling average, according to a report by Larry Gearhardt, an Ohio
State University field specialist in taxation. Farmland values, the report explained, started going down
in 2000, and hit bottom in 2005 and started to rebound with the pace quickening in recent years. Those
low years dropping out of the calculations for 2013 values help account for the spike in prices. But,
Gearhardt reported, “the biggest reason for the increase … is the increase in crop prices.” Those
prices have more than doubled in the past decade.
The report notes that the price of corn rose to $6.40 a bushel in 2013 up from $1.85 a bushel in 2005.
Soybeans were up to $11.90 a bushel from $5.15, and wheat was up to $6.60 from $3.15 a bushel.
Jeff Meyer, the vice president of the county Farm Bureau, said he was not shocked that land values
increased, though he was a little surprised they increased by so much.
Those who don’t track the process as closely, he said, may have been taken aback. “It’s hard to
forecast.”
“There’s no way to plan for it,” he said. “It’s hard to forecast. Probably means I’ll be spending less on
other parts of the operation, such as equipment.
“As a land owner that’s just part of owning land.”
Given the factors leading to the increase are out of the control of landowners and farmers, Meyer said,
“there’s no use getting mad about it.”
Crop prices, he said, have started to decline. Gearhardt’s report from February reported then current
prices of were $3.91 a bushel for corn, $8.98 for beans, and $4.54 for wheat.
Declining crop prices will eventually have an effect on land values.
In his report Gearhardt wrote: “Contrary to the economy as a whole, the net return from farming has
increased since 2006. Therefore, CAUV values have increased, since CAUV values are based on net return
from farming.”