Farm coalition to oppose ‘split-roll’ tax initiative

Issue Date: July 22, 2020

The California Farm Bureau Federation has launched a new coalition of agricultural groups and a multi-million-dollar campaign to oppose Proposition 15, the measure to raise property taxes on the November statewide ballot.

The initiative would create a "split-roll" tax, with commercial and industrial properties to be reassessed at current market value at least every three years, while residential properties would retain the full benefit of the 1978 Proposition 13 property tax measure, being reassessed only when sold or when improvements are made.

Proposition 15 proponents say the measure exempts agriculture, but the initiative includes what opponents describe as a fatal drafting flaw that would expose agricultural "fixtures and improvements" to higher taxes.

The independent, nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's Office and the California Assessors' Association have each separately confirmed the measure would lead to higher taxes on a range of farm property, including fruit and nut trees, vineyards, fences, barns, processing plants, dairies, irrigation systems, silos and tanks, storage sheds, feedlots, dams, paved roads, wind machines and more.

"Prop 15 does not exempt agriculture—it hikes taxes on fruit trees, nut trees, grapevines, dairies, irrigation equipment, barns and much more," CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. "California family farmers and ranchers have already been hit hard by the current COVID-19 crisis. Prop 15's tax hike is the last thing we need."

Opponents say the measure would also raise property taxes on agricultural support industries such as farm equipment dealers, transportation companies and warehouses.

In announcing the coalition—Family Farmers Against Prop 15—CFBF said it has teamed with leading agricultural organizations throughout the state, including county Farm Bureaus, Western Growers, the Agricultural Council of California and a growing list of individual farmers, ranchers and other agricultural associations.

"Prop 15 is bad for California farmers and bad for California consumers," Johansson said. "It would drive up the price of food produced and grown in California, making our farmers less competitive and increasing food prices on shoppers, many of whom already struggle with the high cost of living in California."

The coalition said it has fundraising commitments for a multi-million-dollar campaign informing voters throughout the state about Proposition 15's impact on farmers and consumer food prices.

"We think it's critical that the state's farmers and voters hear from us about this flawed, costly measure," Johansson said, "and we plan on making our voice heard loud and clear."

Family Farmers Against Prop 15 has established a website at cafarmersagainstprop15.com.

CFBF policy advocate Robert Spiegel said the coalition has invested "significant resources" to oppose the measure.

"We encourage farmers and ranchers to visit the campaign website, see what's at stake and donate to the coalition to defeat Prop 15 this fall," Spiegel said.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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