An environmental group met last night in Klemme to talk about what they say are unfair tax breaks for big livestock producers. The Humane Society’s Chris Bedford says mega-sized hog lots get an exemption from a part of their farm’s property tax. He calls it a tax “subsidy” and says they don’t pay what he calls county, school or community-college taxes on the part of the farm where manure is stored. Just like scrubbers in the chimney of a factory, the manure pits that prevent runoff into water supplies are sheltered from a percentage of the farm’s property tax as an environmental exemption, according to Bedford. He says bigger farms that pay bigger taxes get a bigger exemption which isn’t fair. The group met with “Concerned Neighbors of Hancock County” to call for a $100 cap on property tax exemptions for animal farm waste pits. He says it’s a pollution-control device and says in 2002, about $171 Million in taxes “were taken off the books” for the waste-pit exemption. He cites a $20 Million facility being built in Kossuth County that he says will “probably try to hide” up to $9 Million of its value in the waste-pit exemption. The Humane Society of the U-S says local advocates agree the manure-pit property-tax exemption should be capped at $100.
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