Agricultural land values to increase

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 1999

Adams County residents checking on their agricultural land taxes will find another increase in land value and therefore another increase in their tax bill for next year.

&uot;Land value is going way up all over the country,&uot; said Reynolds Atkins, Adams County Tax Assessor.

The State Tax Commission contracts with Mississippi State University’s Agricultural Economics Department and the State Forestry Commission to survey farmers each year, said Bob Megginson, director of the Office of Property Tax at the state Tax Commission.

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According to records furnished by the state Tax Commission, Class III land in the Lower Delta area (which includes the Natchez-Adams County area), has seen a 9 percent increase in agricultural land values each of the last two years.

The formula used by MSU and the Forestry Commission includes a 10-year average of farm income to factor land values, Megginson said.

The agricultural land value does have a 10 percent annual cap, he said. State law dictates that &uot;the variation, up or down, from a previous year shall not exceed 10 percent.&uot;

&uot;At one time, we had a five year moving average,&uot; Megginson said. &uot;Then the legislature adopted a 10-year moving average.&uot; This method of formulating land value dilutes the effect a particularly good or bad farm year might have on the next year’s land value.

It also means that 10 years of farm data goes into the formula to compute agricultural land values, and that farm incomes from 1989 are still influencing land values in 1999, he said.

The state Tax Commission judges property by class of property and soil region to determine that land’s ability to produce crops, and therefore its relative value.

&uot;They correlate all this information in a formula to achieve the land value,&uot; he said.

Megginson said this year’s negative influences on the farm economy – low crop prices, low crop yields, higher supply costs, higher interest rates on equipment loans – will have an increasing impact on agricultural land values as the 10-year average rotates &uot;good&uot; farm years off and &uot;poor&uot; farm years onto its scale. &uot;Increasing timber prices are reflected in those values,&uot; Megginson said.

Megginson and Atkins said the per acre value assigned for agricultural use property is still well below fair market value, and therefore a tremendous benefit to farmers and timber producers.

&uot;Fair market value on land in the county goes for $1,100 or $1,200 an acre,&uot; Atkins said. &uot;Paying on $200 or $300 an acre land value is a very good deal.&uot;