Farm Horizons, Aug. 2006

Urdahl plans to try again on dairy tax credit bill

By Roz Kohls

The dairy tax credit bill, authored by State Rep. Dean Urdahl, (R-Grove City,) that had widespread support by dairy farmers, dairy industry, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and other legislators lost by one vote this spring.

“If one senator voted the other way, it would be law today,” Urdahl said.

The one-time tax credit in the bill, up to $50,000 for expenditures made by dairy farmers, was designed to help modernize, improve or acquire equipment or buildings for dairy cattle. Qualifying expenditures included barns, fences, watering facilities, feed storage and handling equipment, scales, milking, robotic and milk-storage equipment, and manure management facilities, including digesters and energy production equipment.

Urdahl is not giving up on it though. He intends to bring the bill back. He also is looking at new measures. One of those is making the construction of new barns or expansions sales tax exempt. This measure would benefit all farmers, regardless whether they have small, medium or large operations, he said.

Urdahl supports all dairy farms, small, medium and large, he said. The trend will be toward bigger farms as the only ones to survive the struggling dairy industry, though, “unless we do something,” Urdahl added.

“We’re taking some steps, but we have a ways to go,” Urdahl added.

Urdahl met with dairy farmers from Meeker County in mid-June in Dassel. Urdahl wanted to hear from those with first-hand experience what measures would help, especially for young farmers. Revolving loan plans, and ways to address energy costs, such as gas tax relief now, are possible, he said.

Urdahl also is vice chair of the education committee at the legislature. Increased education for those entering the dairy industry is a step in the right direction. Making dairy farms eligible for business loans through economic development associations is another possibility.

Urdahl especially wants to study what other states, such as Wisconsin and the Dakotas, do to promote their dairy industries.

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