Northern New Mexico Seed Exchange
Last month the 10th annual Pueblos y Semillas Gathering and Seed Exchange took place in Peñasco. The event was hosted by the New Mexico Food & Seed Sovereignty Alliance, which is comprised of the New Mexico Acequia Association, Traditional Native American Farmers’ Association, Honor Our Pueblo Existence and Tewa Women United.
Agricultural Lands Tax Hikes Challenged
State tax law is critical to keeping agricultural lands in production and to protecting the traditional fabric and culture of communities with long ties to the land.
About 460 Santa Fe County residents and at least several thousand people around New Mexico are fighting to keep their agricultural-use tax rate, which is considerably less than annual property taxes at the residential rate. An assessment in 2014 by the County Assessor’s Office found that 1,539 of about 2,000 properties were verifiable as agricultural. The rest were questionable. Those landowners were sent letters requesting documentation to show that their property is still agricultural.
That resulted in a lot of angry people, many of whom are challenging those assessments. In recent months, the newly elected county assessor, Gus Martínez, and his staff have met with property owners at community meetings.
Understanding the importance of the ag valuation to agricultural communities across the state, the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) took the lead in advocating for and passing a bill (SB 112) during the 2015 legislative session by building a statewide and bipartisan coalition to expand the definition of agricultural use for property valuation to include the resting of land under certain conditions such as drought. Over time, some families have subdivided their properties and sold off parcels. Changes to the initial draft bill removed the minimum-acreage requirement and the inclusion of recreational horses. The final bill signed by Gov. Martínez provides an additional tool to help county assessors better meet the concerns of agricultural land users. The bill states that
“Agricultural use” includes the resting of land as the direct result of at least moderate drought conditions as designated by the USDA if the drought conditions occurred in the county within which the land is located for at least eight consecutive weeks during the previous tax year and provided that the land was used in the tax year immediately preceding the previous tax year primarily for the production of agricultural products.
Ag Lands Valuation Workshop – May 7
The NMAA is hosting a workshop on May 7 at Nambé Community Center to help Santa Fe County residents and anyone else interested in the valuation process understand this topic. For more information, call 505.995.9644.