“Engage” is the theme of Indiana Farm Bureau’s 2012 convention, and IFB President Don Villwock used his annual address to remind members how much can be accomplished when they are engaged with their elected officials. Speaking before several hundred farmers at the convention’s general session, held Dec. 7 in Indianapolis, Villwock mentioned three specific examples, all from the 2012 General Assembly: repealing Indiana’s inheritance tax, overturning an Indiana Supreme Court decision that would have allowed cities and towns broad jurisdiction over water rights, and delaying implementation of a new soil productivity factor that was to be used in calculating property taxes.
The proposed soil productivity factor was announced by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance in February with the expectation that assessors would use for the March 1, 2012, reassessment of farmland. The previous soil productivity adjustments had been in place since 1979, and the introduction of the new factors, which would have significantly increased the assessed value of farmland and the taxes farmers would pay, came as a complete surprise to assessors, to legislators and to Farm Bureau. “Your engagement with and outreach to legislators delayed the unjust implementation of a new farmland productivity factor,” Villwock said. “This effort saved Indiana landowners about $57.4 million in taxes over the next year alone.”
Villwock also highlighted significant achievements of some of Indiana’s county Farm Bureaus, including the educational trip for 10-year 4-H members sponsored by Tippecanoe County Farm Bureau and the campaign spearheaded by Vanderburgh County Farm Bureau to defeat a city-consolidation effort in Evansville.“But we have much more to do, and we must stay engaged every day,” he said. “We are less than 2 percent of the population, and many of the remaining 98 percent do not understand agriculture. And some would even like us to go away. We have an ever-growing population that will soon reach 9 billion mouths to feed. It will take all of us being engaged to make that happen.”