Split-Roll Initiative

Split-Roll Initiative: Farm Bureau Says Split-Roll Measure Would Increase Food Costs

farm barn feature

The split-roll property tax initiative would increase taxes on agricultural property, leading to higher food costs for Californians, the California Farm Bureau Federation said February 18 in a statement announcing its opposition to the measure.

The split-roll measure (Initiative 19-0008) would repeal Proposition 13 protections for business property owners, and would require market-value reassessment of commercial and industrial properties every three years. It is being circulated for signatures to replace an earlier version (Initiative 17-0055) that qualified for the November ballot more than a year ago but has flaws acknowledged by its supporters.

“Land that is used for producing commercial agricultural commodities” would be exempt from the reassessment requirement, but improvements on that land would be subject to reassessment at least every three years. Split-roll proponents admit in their own materials that “a dairy barn, food processing facilities, and wineries would be reassessed.”

Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the result would be higher food costs for consumers, and higher economic hurdles for farmers.

“It’s unusual for the Farm Bureau to oppose a measure at this early stage, but our Board of Directors is very concerned about the impact this initiative would have on rural California,” Johansson said. “Although its backers claim agricultural land would not be affected, the initiative would trigger annual tax reassessments at market value for agricultural improvements such as barns, dairies, wineries, processing plants, vineyards and orchards. The split-roll measure would increase the tax burden on California farmers at a time when family farms and ranches already face threats to their water supplies and rising costs to comply with the state’s employment and environmental regulations.”

The federation represents nearly 34,000 farmers and ranchers.

CalTax co-chairs Californians to Save Prop 13 and Stop Higher Property Taxes, the campaign opposing the split-roll initiative.

“This attack on Proposition 13 would increase the cost of food, housing and everything else Californians buy,” CalTax President Robert Gutierrez said. “With many families already struggling to pay their bills, and many California businesses fleeing the state, it’s hard to think of a worse idea.”

California ranked the highest for taxing family farms in 2017, with an average of $17,299 paid per farm, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To place the tax initiative on the ballot, proponents must submit at least 997,139 valid signatures of registered voters by April 14.