To the Editor:
If you are like many residents of Western North Carolina, you probably cut hay, raise a few head of livestock, grow a good-sized garden, or keep bees. Mountain people grew up doing these things. These wholesome, enjoyable activities are our birthright and rural heritage.
These farming enterprises also supplement incomes in a region where quality of life is outstanding but good-paying jobs can be scarce.
If you’re one of these hardworking people who sells a few calves, honey, or fresh produce, you’ve probably noticed that you are paying a lot more taxes on your farm supplies.
A few years ago, farm-related expenses such as fertilizer, feed, seeds, beekeeping supplies, and even tractors were exempt from sales taxes. Then, in 2013, the legislature passed House Bill 998, eliminating the exemption for farmers with a gross farm income under $10,000. That’s right — larger producers still have the exemption, while lower income farmers got a tax hike. Effective July 1, 2014, the legislature levied a 6.75 percent surcharge on every farm purchase you make to help pay for a 40-percent tax cut for huge corporations like Duke Energy.
And where did our local state senator, Jim Davis, R-Franklin, stand? He chose to stand with Raleigh and against his constituents. He voted to increase taxes on family farmers. Perhaps Davis agrees with Raleigh politicians who consider our small mountain farms insignificant. Well, maybe a couple thousand dollars in supplemental income doesn’t sound like much to an orthodontist, but for mountain families that income can mean a nice Christmas for our kids. It can mean paying off the truck, or even the house, a few years early.
This November, we have an alternative to Jim Davis. Jane Hipps is running to be our next state senator. Jane is a retired public school teacher, tends a flock of sheep on her farm in Haywood County, and won awards for gardening and food preservation as a girl in 4-H. Let’s elect someone who supports our mountain values. On November 8, I’m voting for Jane Hipps to represent us in the North Carolina Senate. I hope you will, too.
Former North Carolina State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency