The South Dakota House Ag and Natural Resource Committee has advanced a bill giving ranchers an easier process to have their pastures taxed as rangeland. The 10-4 vote sends HB 1039 to the full House for consideration.
District 30 Representative Trish Ladner and State Senator Jessica Castleberry presented the measure to the committee, followed by a stream of witnesses – virtually all in favor of the bill.
The SD Dept of Revenue has worked with South Dakota State University on a new soil survey by Artificial Intelligence that identified ribbons and patches of land long used for grazing but with soil types that could be assessed as row cropland.
Ladner says much of the land can’t be used for row crops because of their location such as hilltops or creek beds, limited access, or limited water but the department’s proposed tax tables treated them as cropland with huge jumps in property taxes.
Strong opposition, especially from the Southern Hills, led the Revenue Department to put the change on hold and resulted in HB 1039, which county assessors say will simplify their work by solving 85% of the tax issues facing ranchers.
Ladner says it allows the designation of non-cropland on all land at more than 1,955 feet elevation, land seeded to perennial vegetation for at least 20 years and grazed but never harvested, and native grasslands.
Bill supporters in Fall River County and the rest of southwest South Dakota are currently gathering signatures on petitions urging the Legislature to pass HB 1039. Copies can be signed at all county auditor offices.