Montgomery County Farm Bureau member Carolyn “Sunny” Hickey has watched her own pocket of paradise become an island unto itself since she and her late husband, Don, bought their 15-plus acres 44 years ago.
“More and more we’re becoming more urban and pushing the farm element out,” she said. “People can’t afford to farm with the taxes.”
The Dayton Mall and a new interchange off Interstate 75 have surrounded her tranquil property in the county, but she said she isn’t going anywhere despite the development surrounding her. Recent reforms to the Current Agricultural Use Value program have made it easier for her to stay put and continue to live on the farmland she’s enjoyed for decades.
“The taxes where I live have gone up because the sleepy country road has become a major thoroughfare,” she said. “I was delighted when the tax bill arrived, because of Farm Bureau’s efforts, the taxes had dropped $1,100 for the year.”
The reforms not only benefited her at home. Hickey also owns 237 acres in Greene County that produce grain on just under 200 acres and includes 40 acres of woodlands.
“The grain farm tax bill arrived, and that has dropped $4,400 for the year,” she said. “This tax savings is a tremendous help in the face of the dropping grain prices.”
Hickey was one of thousands of Farm Bureau members across the state who wrote to state legislators asking for reforms to CAUV. It was that effort from members that made the reforms that were passed in last year’s state budget possible.
Hickey wasn’t always a Farm Bureau member. She became a member after a friend suggested she join the organization.
“Marty Beam and I farm on shares,” Hickey said, “He told me ‘I can advise you on (crop rotation and storage), but I encourage you to join Farm Bureau,’” she said. “I have him to thank for introducing me to the organization.”
From left, top row: Kevin and Luke Dull, Mary Smallsreed, Matt Aultman
Bottom row: Gene Daniel, Roger Baker and David Bright share their 2017 CAUV savings in a series of videos shot at Ag Day at the Capital in February.