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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

Nebraska Farm Bureau has selected the discussion over tax reform in Nebraska as the state's top agriculture story of 2013.

The story began last January with a state legislative proposal to put new sales taxes on the purchase of ag inputs, machinery and equipment. It later evolved into a broader discussion about providing property tax relief to Nebraska farm and ranch families, which Nebraska Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson says is sorely needed.

"What we've learned as we've studied the issue is we're significantly out of balance-about 45 percent of the total taxes collected comes from property tax," Nelson says. "We really believe in the three-legged stool concept that talks about having about a third come from each-property tax, sales tax and income tax."

Farm Bureau has proposed a three-year plan for tax reform. Nelson says the first year would bring additional monies into the state's property tax credit program. "And also changing the percentage valuation on farmland from 75 to 65 percent. Obviously some of that would come from the general fund-there's significant reserves now that can be used'" he says. "So that's really how we address the first year-and we also do continue to look at restrained spending and other spending cuts as we move forward as ways to address the issue."

In the long run, Nelson says, Farm Bureau is willing to look at broadening the base on sales taxes.

"I know that's very difficult to do, but we're really open to looking at lots and lots of things in order to bring into balance the entire tax system, so that we have something that's more fair and equitable for everyone in the state of Nebraska."

Other top ag stories for 2013, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau, are the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on farm and ranch families and the failure to pass a farm bill.

Farm Bureau also identified what it believes will be key ag stories for 2014. Among those story prediction are a cooling of the broader ag economy and continued growth in precision technology.

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