SACRAMENTO, CA – Putting to rest any notion that Prop 15 protects farmers and ranchers, representatives from multiple steps along the food distribution process – literally from farm to fork – held a socially-distanced event today at a Sacramento farm, highlighting how Californians’ favorite food products will cost more unless Prop 15, the state’s largest ever property tax increase, is defeated. Participants gathered in person to explain to California voters how Prop 15’s proponents are knowingly providing false information about agricultural products. Ultimately, Prop 15’s agricultural flaw will lead hard-working Californians, most of whom are struggling from the worst economic crisis in a generation, to incur higher costs for food and other essentials.
“It’s clear that Prop 15’s authors went out of their way to deceive voters about the tax hike’s impact on farmers and ranchers,” said Shannon Douglass, a Glenn County farmer and First Vice President of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “While agricultural land isn’t taxed, every structure on that land is – barns, processing plants, mature fruit and nut trees and grape vines. Everything from farm to table will cost more money if Prop 15 passes, ultimately driving up the costs we pay to buy California-grown products.”
“Prop 15 will destroy Prop 13 and hurt our state’s farmers at a time when the nation relies on California – grown food now more than ever,” stated Greg Van Dyke, owner of VA Farms Trucking, a distributor of rice, stone fruit, and other commodities in Northern California, and founding president of Cultivating Change Foundation, the largest LGBT-agriculture organization in the United States. “As a fifth-generation farmer deeply committed to sustainability and feeding our state, I urge all Californians to say no to the flawed property increase ballot measure this November.”
While Prop 15 exempts agricultural land, it fails to protect the fixtures and improvements on that land that make farming possible. This flaw will impact families in a major way because Prop 15’s higher property taxes will hit a product multiple times as it moves from the field to the processing center to the distributor and finally to the grocery store or restaurant.
“As the assessor for the largest farming county in the United States, I know a thing or two about how property taxes are applied. Prop 15 will lead to family farms paying higher property taxes that customers will ultimately pay. There is no controversy about the fact that Prop 15 will significantly raise taxes on farmers and ranchers’ property,” added Paul Dictos, assessor for Fresno County.
According to research from USC, more than 1 in 4 Los Angeles County households experienced food insecurity this spring with women, low-income families and Latinos most impacted. Prop 15’s negative impact on the cost of living and higher costs for food will exacerbate an already bad situation for millions of families struggling to make ends meet.
“There could not be a worse time to raise property taxes on farmers and make food more expensive to deliver to communities across the state. Prop 15’s devastating cost of living increases will harm vulnerable communities the most,” concluded Michael Kelley, an almond huller and processor who also serves as President/CEO of the Central California Almond Growers Association. “California’s farming community is proud to be part of the food desert solution, but Prop 15 will threaten access to fresh and healthy California-grown products for communities and families already struggling to make ends meet.”
“At today’s press conference, we heard from the farmer who grows the food, the processor who gets it ready to go to market, the person who transports it and now me who serves it to you – the consumer,” added Patrick Mulvaney, chef/owner of Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento. “Prop 15’s taxes don’t start with me – it starts with the farmer or the rancher – and it will ultimately work its way down to my restaurant and your kitchen table.”