Land And Water U.S.A.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


For all my farmer/irrigated Nebraska friends or those who rely on farm related business; Call and email your state Senator to shut down LB 1022 introduced by Sen. Schumacher of Columbus; a disaster for irrigation.  By Jeremy Cohen 

Dear Sen. Schumacher,

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to LB1022. This Bill if, enacted, would completely shut down irrigation in Western Nebraska and devastate its economy. You wouldn’t need tax revenue for rural schools in many counties whose economies are dependent upon irrigated crops, feedlots and ethanol plants, as the gross and net income would decline precipitously and people would all have to move to the city. You would be indirectly killing many jobs at elevators, farms, fertilizer plants, rural cooperative electric organizations and agricultural implement dealers.

Do the math.

1. There is hereby imposed a tax upon the use of water to irrigate agricultural land and horticultural land. The tax shall be equal to one cent for every ten gallons of water pumped from a covered water well and shall be paid by the owner of the agricultural land and horticultural land being irrigated.

One center pivot irrigating 130 acres in Western Nebraska might average 12 inches of water per acre per year, or 130 acre feet of water. There are 325,851 gallons in an acre foot, so 130 x 325,851 would equal approximately 42.36 million gallons used on an average irrigated pivot quarter section of ground. So, your bill proposes to tax 1/10th of that, or 4.23 million gallons at 1 cent. So 4,236,0000 x $0.01 tax =$42,360. That’s more than 70% of the average gross production of corn at 200 bu per acre at $3 per bu. (An acre foot is the amount of water to cover one acre with one foot of water (that’s 12 inches)).

The property taxes currently on that same quarter of ground are about $5000 plus about $1300 in Occupation tax. There is nothing in your bill about cutting the Occupation Tax, so even if the land tax went down to $700 an acre as dryland, your bill would increase taxes on an irrigated quarter by $42,360 - $4,300= $38,060. That’s 63 cents per bushel of corn. Farming at $3 corn is already a losing proposition. No feedlot or ethanol plant is going to buy corn at 63 cents above market. I would have no choice but to shut down irrigation entirely and my farm tenant and all of his employees would be out of work and likely facing bankruptcy. The local school district would lose much of its tax revenue as I’d predict almost all irrigation would shut down and be taxed instead at dryland rates.

Perhaps it would make sense if the tax rate were 1 cent per 100 gallons of water as that would result in a small tax cut for the average farmer. Do you really intend for this result or is your math off by one decimal point? If the above is your intended result, you are clearly out of touch with reality. So, if this shuts down irrigation as we know it, what is it you intend to do with the underground water which the State claims it owns? How is the State going to support all the new folks added to the welfare roles in Western Nebraska as the result of your devastation of the economy.

Maybe my math is wrong? If so, please prove it and send me your math that led you to propose this Bill. If I am right and you and your staff made a math error at that level, or don’t understand how much water is used, maybe it’s time to step down from being a representative of this state. There are many other problems with your Bill. I hope that the other Senators will have the good sense to shut it down quickly.

Jeremy Cohen 

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