Randy Kron, President of Indiana Farm Bureau, is elated. And why shouldn’t he be? The Indiana General Assembly just passed real tax reform for farmers - perhaps for the first time in a long time. This time the legislation passed just doesn’t stop the bleeding by preventing further increases. It will result in a significant decrease in property taxes due on average farmland over the next six years.
Kron’s team, led by Katrina Hall, director of legislative services, deserves plenty of credit for keeping the issue in front of the legislators and for being there whenever someone needed a fact to support a case, or refute a claim by someone else.
But Hall isn’t comfortable taking the credit. This lifelong goal of Indiana Farm Bureau members, part of the official policy of the organization since it began - reducing property taxes - was a victory by the members, she insists. IFB staff helped coordinate visits and urged members to contact legislators, especially in the last days when it appeared farmers might not get the most important reforms they sought, and farmers responded.
Hall believes it was a victory for farmers, and one they should be proud of. If there was ever any doubt that legislators listen when people contact them, this should have erased it. When constituent after constituent contacts a legislator, telling a similar story, it’s hard for a legislator to ignore it, even if farmers aren’t in the majority. They’re a tiny minority, but they are the hub of an agricultural machine that powers economic development in the state.
To their credit, legislators were astute enough to see that connection, and to listen to farmers who told them that while their city cousins were enjoying 30% decreases in homeowner taxes since 2007, their taxes actually rose 60%. Once farmers got to legislators with the facts, legislators made the right decision.
An old adage about America says that if Americans are given all the information and the correct information, more times than not they will make the right decision. It may not always work in this convoluted age, but it worked this time.
Give yourself a pat on the back. Indiana Farm Bureau was there to assist, but in the end it was farmers who legislators listened to, and who get the credit for one of the landmark pieces of property tax reform for agriculture in modern Indiana history.