JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri farmers who own the best land for growing crops could pay higher taxes on their property under a tax commission decision approved Tuesday, and those with less desirable plots might get a tax cut.
The Missouri State Tax Commission set new "productive values" for agricultural land, which are determined by evaluating the potential earnings on the land through agriculture and are used for calculating property taxes.
Missouri's farms are divided into eight groups based on land quality, with the best farms in Grade 1 and the worst in Grade 8. The tax commission increased the value for farms in the four best categories which generally is cropland, lowered values for three lesser categories that include pastures and kept the worst category the same.
Changes in the land values are to take effect Jan. 1, 2011, unless lawmakers reject them. If the new values are rejected by the Legislature, then the existing values would remain in place.
The Missouri Farm Bureau, which urged the tax commission not to increase the value of agricultural land, said Tuesday that it would ask lawmakers to block the increases.
"Missouri farmers are carrying some of the highest debt load in the nation, and clearly they cannot be expected to shoulder a tax increase," said Farm Bureau President Charles Kruse.