S.D. Senate wants to redefine ag land

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The current definition can be difficult to understand, so state lawmakers are trying to come up with a different meaning of agricultural use for property in South Dakota.

State senators voted 28-7 Monday for their chamber’s latest wording that says land is agricultural if that’s the primary use.

HB 1085 returns to the House for representatives to decide if they agree or want to send it to a conference committee for negotiation.

The House had wanted to prohibit agricultural classification for any subdivision that has been platted to three or more lots.

The two sides appear to agree on keeping $2,500 as the minimum gross income that land must produce from agricultural use in three of five years, and on getting rid of other current wording that requires ag income otherwise has to be at least 10% of the land’s assessed value.

Gary Cammack told other senators Monday the law is confusing. “You would think it would be fairly black and white,” he said, but there are “a lot of loopholes” that can be exploited. “It goes a long way toward making the property tax fair on the ag producers.”

Al Novstrup called it a good bill “because it tells the truth.” He said buying three head of cattle on Monday and selling three head on Tuesday could qualify a million-dollar home in the Black Hills as agricultural use.

Troy Heinert opposed the proposed changes, saying they dodge “the big conversation” about actual use. “This will be a tax increase on some families,” Heinert said.

John Wiik defended the bill, saying it “starts to take a bite at actual use.”

Julie Frye-Mueller said she had introduced a bill this year that would have classified horses as an agricultural use. She said a Custer County business has 32 horses but isn’t considered ag property.

“I have no clue why his business was discriminated against, but I’m pretty sure South Dakota loves horses,” she said.

David Johnson opposed it because it doesn’t cover forested lands and called it a “tax revenue bill.” He accurately said it has been through multiple amendments and said it would “significantly negatively impact” South Dakotans who live on forested property.

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