Land Use Program Is Vital

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Editor, The Herald:

In his April 1 letter to the editor, Mr. Larry Skweres attempted to paint a picture of Cumberland County’s Land Use program as basically a tax relief program for the rich, wealthy out-of-county residents and huge corporations.

In reality, it is anything but that.

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Land Use taxation is vitally important to easing a tax burden on small farmers and landowners who take livestock and agricultural products to market and make modest profits from their daily expense of sweat and physical back-busting labor. Anyone who actually farms knows how much work it takes to eke out profits, protect, nourish and enhance the land that our forefathers entrusted to us. You must actually sell agricultural or forestry products to qualify for the program. And since the Land Use program requires only a modest yearly amount of agricultural products to be publically sold to qualify, it is extremely affordable and valuable for small farmers who, frankly, shouldn’t be punished and given no relief for having (as an automatic necessity to raise products for public consumption) a few extra acres of land. I, for one, have no desire to entrust our food supply to a bunch of corporations.

Small farmers are usually self-sufficient people who often aren’t receiving that many County benefits, like sewer and water connections. They’re not getting a ton of handouts and they’re not asking for much. They also don’t need the comforts of city life when they move out to the country, because many of them are multi-generational caretakers who already lived their entire lives here.

Taxes can go up for a multitude of reasons. Money can also be raised in other ways besides taxation. See the landfill saga and Cobbs Creek Reservoir for more information. Everyone needs to have vibrant emergency services, because they benefit all the citizens. But don’t extract more revenue from the people who make their living from working the land. They can’t afford it.

Dirk Warner