Ag tax information meet draws landowners

By Cathy Nelson Fall River County Herald-Star

On Wednesday, June 9, Fall River County director of equalization Susie Hayes and her staff hosted an informational meeting at the Mueller Center on the topics of agricultural land assessment and taxes.
Two guest speakers from the S.D. Department of Revenue (DOR) appeared on screen via video equipment. They were Wendy Semmler, property tax director, and David Weiss, DOR secretary. Other speakers were Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller and Rep. Trish Ladner, who both appeared in person. Also present were county commissioners Joe Falkenburg, Deb Russell, Joe Allen, Les Cope and Heath Greenough, other county personnel and about 100 landowners.
County GIS coordinator Stacey Martin thanked the crowd for coming.
“We want you to be informed,” she said. “We have a plan of action and we’re going to create a solution.”
She invited the crowd to write down questions on a sheet of paper that was handed to them as they came in the door. The questions were answered later in the meeting by Hayes and Martin.
“We will publish answers to your questions on the website if there is not enough time in the meeting,” Martin said.
Semmler and Weiss explained how cropland and noncropland are assessed. Weiss said cropland data is obtained from S.D. State University working with USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
There are ratings for each soil type. The most prevalent soils carry the highest rating. The NRCS tests soils to get new classifications. Weiss said the new soil table is needed to come up with better data and more precision with soils in Fall River County. He encouraged anyone with questions about the soils data to contact the NRCS office in Hot Springs.
Hayes said the current assessment is based on a soil survey from the 1970s and ’80s. The NRCS has been updating its data, which needs to be figured into a new soil table to create a better system, she explained.
“The project is pretty intense,” she said. “We’re not rolling out the soil table until we’re sure it’s right.” She said the new table will not be applied until 2023-24. “It will be an uphill battle before this new table comes out,” Hayes said. “The county is not trying to get more tax dollars.”
She explained that to qualify for ag property taxes, a property’s principal use must be for agriculture.
Hayes stressed the need to revive Senate Bill No. 4 from 2016. The bill says, in part, “any agricultural land ... seeded to perennial vegetation for at least 30 years and used for animal grazing or left unharvested, or is a native grassland, shall be categorized as noncropland for the purposes of determining the agricultural income value of the land.”
New ag laws were passed last year, Hayes said. Current legislative changes will take effect July 1. The deadline for soil adjustment applications is Aug. 31. The deadline for ag status applications is Nov. 1. Hayes said the office is willing to help landowners with the forms.
“Please let us help you,” Hayes said, “but don’t wait until the last minute. Please call and make appointments.”
 Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, who serves on the state’s ag committee, asked the landowners to come to Pierre and testify.
“We have to be organized,” she said.
Rep. Trish Ladner, also an ag committee member, said, “We have to be a team and stand together.”


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