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Carroll cuts farm tax in half

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Supervisors are considering completely phasing out the tax levy on farm equipment.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Planting the seeds of tax cuts for farmers, the Carroll supervisors talked Jan. 13 about doing away with a levy on agricultural equipment in its next budget year.
Supervisor Andy Jackson brought up the idea for discussion near the end of an eventful January meeting, and his fellow board members felt they could phase the idea in.
Farming has outlasted other industries that have come and gone, Jackson said. Farming has a continuing, and increasingly diversified, presence in Carroll.
"They've been the backbone of the county," Jackson said of farmers. "We've got to a time now, also, where it's great to have safe, homegrown food to consume."
Cabbage has been traditionally an important crop, and farmers have added produce like broccoli, collard greens, corn and more to their fields.
Local farms have also found strong allies in stores like Super Dollar and Food City to sell their produce, Jackson added. He hoped that more superstores would follow in this practice.
"But our farmers need more help than that," he said.
Many counties have taken steps to help farmers by doing away with taxes on farm equipment. Jackson wondered if Carroll's supervisors would consider that, too.
If Carroll did away with the tax entirely, it would cost about $210,000, according to figures he's gotten from the commissioner of the revenue office. "It's not a whole lot, in a way, and it'd be some help to them," Jackson said.
This request has come up several times in the last few years.
Given the chance to discuss it, Supervisor Sam Dickson suggested phasing the idea in. County officials need to start working on the budget soon, anyway.
"What if we considered doing half and see if we ... can work it into the budget?" he asked.
Farming's hit or miss, and Supervisor David Hutchins believes that this could provide farmers with some relief. Maybe they could invest those dollars back into their farms.
Carroll has supported tourism efforts, Dickson noted. Carroll continues trying to get industry — but then again, so is everybody else.
Farming is a mainstay. Dickson knows about young farmers trying to grow crops of blueberries — they don't need a big tractor for that, but they do have to build fences to keep deer out.
He believed providing farmers some help would bear fruit. "You know, I think it's an investment that will come back to us."
Supervisor Wes Hurst figured the idea would cost the county roughly the equivalent of half a cent in real estate taxes. So, he made a motion that the supervisors should try to cut in half the farm equipment tax in the coming budget.
"To give them half is a good place to start," Jackson said.
He hoped this would give farmers some relief and help them stay in business in hard times.
All the supervisors voted yes.