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Is the “Fake Farmer” Reform Bill a Fraud?

real farm, Rocktown (Ringoes) NJ

real farm, Rocktown (Ringoes) NJ

On Thursday, the Senate Environment Committee heard a bill intended to close loopholes and prevent “Fake Farmer” abuses of NJ’s “Farmland Assessment Act of 1964″ (see: last year’s Asbury Park Press investigation:  Fake Farmers cost NJ taxpayers millions”).

The bipartisan bill,  S744 is sponsored by Senator Beck – R Monmouth; and Senate President Sweeney D- Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester.

Here is the beginning of the bill’s statement:

STATEMENT

This bill would make various revisions to the “Farmland Assessment Act of 1964″ that would help ensure that its provisions benefit true farmers and thereby help preserve and promote agriculture as an industry and way of life in the Garden State to the benefit of all citizens.

This bill would raise from $500 to $1,000 the minimum gross sales and payments qualifying standard for farmland assessment on the first five acres of land.

I generally don’t get involved in these farmland issues, but because of the apparent lack of understanding of basic math involved in the proposed new $1,000 minimum, I thought I should reach out and advise the sponsors that the bill is actually FAR WEAKER than the original 1964 law.

Additionally, there is a glaring loophole because the bill does NOT include the severe abuse by corporate “Fake Farmers”, who  enjoy farmland assessment tax breaks at scores of NJ corporate office parks.

It seems that unless these two issues are addressed, the “Fake Farmer” bill itself may be a fraud.

Here’s my note to the sponsors requesting that those flaws be fixed:

Dear Senator Beck:

Just a brief note on your bill’s revision of the current $500 minimum to $1,000.

That actually is 3.6 TIMES weaker than the original 1964 law.

Specifically, using US Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index (CPI)adjustment methods, $500 in 1964 has the same buying power now (year 2011) as $3,651.95

Accordingly, I suggest you amend the bill to AT LEAST account for inflation.

An even more relevant index than the CPI, would be the actual rate of increase in land values or local property taxes – both far surpass the CPI.

Of course, any real reform bill would capture the numerous corporate “Fake Farmers” out there as well.

Sincerely,

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  1. jean public
    March 5th, 2013 at 08:16 | #1

    BECK DOES THIS. OF COURSE, ITS A FAKE BILL. BUT THEN THE LGISLATURE IS DOING THAT ON SEVERAL OTHER BILLS I HAVE NOTICED. HE HEADLINE WRITES AS IF IT REALLY FIXES THE PROBLEM, BUT WHEN YOU READ THE BILL MUCH OF GHE PROBLEM IS STILL THERE. THEY AE FAKE SHILL BILLS.

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