Murphy’s Law 2019 #11

February 6, 2019

One of the biggest bills moneywise this session is connected with Agriculture. It is #2297 and has a nearly $152 million total. It includes NDSU’s #1 priority on its capital improvements list (Dunbar Hall) for $51 million as well as a communications and arts building ($32 million) in Valley City State which is on the wrong side of the dike. The big item for Agriculture is the NDSU Agricultural Products Development Center currently linked with a Northern Crop Institute project for $64 million. It would hopefully replace Harris Hall and the butcher shop/meats lab both built – as I was- in the 1950s. The plan is to site the complex west of Harris across the road and south of the new greenhouses in full view of 19th avenue. It would hopefully serve as a flagship building for Agriculture at NDSU. The bill is rounded out with a $4.5 million project at Dickinson State. The Ag Products Development Center is looking for $6 million in private donations and I have heard that the ND Wheat Commission, contingent upon Legislative support, is donating up to $1.5 million with some other commodity groups pledging as well as the NDSU Foundation looking at it. The farm home exemption issue is still moving along in Senate Finance and Tax committee with the killing of 2351 after it was amended into 2278 making 2351 useless. Now, 2278 makes producer records brought into the county confidential as well as saying that all counties must (rather than may) require farmers to fill out the county form for the exemption, which some 20 counties of our 53 had not been using. The other and last one that the committee has not acted on is 2360 which gets rid of the $40,000 threshold and uses 66% of gross income to determine eligibility for the exemption. The Tax department testified that it would make things simpler for producers and the counties. We think it is likely to make most farmers eligible. We support it as is, but there are some amendments that may be proposed. I know that the chairman feels it would make nearly all producers eligible and as he bravely stood up and explained at an earlier Ag Coalition breakfast, he is dead set against expansion. It will probably be acted on next week.