Budget-cutters eye measure that protects ag industry
updated 6:56 p.m. MT, Sun., Dec. 28, 2008
California's ongoing budget battle could put both the agricultural industry and Butte County's coffers in the cross-hairs.
The actual target of the possible budget attack is a program referred to as the "Williamson Act."
Passed on the state level in 1965 and adopted by Butte County in 1968, the act is designed to encourage agricultural activities throughout California by offering farmers and ranchers property tax cuts.
In order to qualify for the tax break, growers and ranchers must sign a 10-year contract that guarantees the land will remain in agricultural production. Unless something happens, the contract is automatically renewed.
In essence, the Williamson Act does for the agricultural industry what the homeowners' property tax exemption does for households.
However, with the Legislature and the governor are scrambling to find ways to close a budget deficit that has grown to $42 billion, the Williamson Act subventions are on the block. Read More
Whether it’s on the county, state or federal level, it seems that when money gets tight, politicians start looking for a place to steal money from. Normally, money devoted to agriculture gets the first look. It’s partly because agriculture is a victim of it’s own success. In spite of government interference, the American Farmer and Rancher continues to feed this growing world and very few people can appreciate that fact.