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Napa County Farm Bureau Opposes Split Roll Tax Initiative

Napa, CA—The Napa County Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted on June 17 to oppose the upcoming split roll tax initiative which will be placed on California’s November ballot and to lead a professional opposition effort in Napa County to defeat it.

The split roll tax initiative (Schools and Communities First Funding Act) would mean massive tax hikes on farms, vineyards, orchards, wineries and food processing plants. Split roll would eliminate significant Proposition 13 protections for farmers, small businesses and commercial and industrial properties.

Although agricultural land would be protected from re-assessment, fixtures or improvements would not be. The current tax law defines “real property” as land, improvements, and fixtures, meaning that real agricultural property is defined as not only the land, but also fixtures such as irrigation systems, and improvements — such as barns, processing facilities, fruit trees and vineyards once they reach maturity.

That means higher property taxes for structures which are necessary to perform the tasks involved with maintaining a viable agricultural economy in Napa County. Unless the measure is defeated by voters, farmers, vineyards, wineries and others in the agricultural industry will face massively higher annual reassessments for agriculture-related fixtures and improvements.

As an example in Napa Valley, for wineries and vineyards, the split-roll measure would be a devastating property tax hike  at multiple parts of the supply chain. Vineyards growing the wine grapes would be subject to higher property taxes, including the trellising and irrigation. The facility where the wine is produced and sold would face higher property taxes. Livestock producers would face higher property taxes on their barns and improvements. Olive trees used for producing olive oil would be taxed at a higher rate, as well as the olive mill. In response to this threat, the Napa County Farm Bureau has partnered with the California Farm Bureau and joined the statewide coalition designed to defeat this initiative.

“This particular initiative would be devastating to all of Napa County agriculture,” said Johnnie White, President of the Napa County Farm Bureau. “Napa County is an ag economy and this measure would cause massive tax hikes to businesses. This tax initiative would be most devastating to longtime farmers and ranchers and jeopardize their ability to remain in business because of extreme tax hikes. It’s a measure which makes absolutely no sense for Napa County and would cause devastation to our local economy.”

“This is a misleading initiative which tells voters they’re raising needed tax revenue for education,” said Ryan Klobas, Chief Executive Officer of the Napa County Farm Bureau. “It’s a compelling argument when you overlook the facts. K-12 funding has been increasing to all-time highs. Data from the Legislative Analyst’s Office shows total K-12 revenues grew from $10,780 per Average Daily Attendance in 2011-12 to $17,423 in the recently signed budget. That’s 80% more per student than at the low end following the recession eleven years ago. Moreover, this initiative has zero requirements that the tax actually be used in the classroom on school performance. Instead, the new money can be spent on administrative staff and outside consultants. Voters should label this what it is—an attack on agriculture and the agricultural products we produce.”

The Napa County Farm Bureau will direct a professional opposition effort in Napa County to defeat the split roll tax initiative and further educate voters about the devastating effect this measure would have in Napa Valley. To participate or contribute to the opposition, you may contact the Farm Bureau offices at (707) 224-5403 or info@napafarmbureau.org


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