A change in state tax laws supported by the Alabama Farmers Federation would put Alabama farmers on a level playing field with peers in surrounding states. When the 2014 legislative session starts Jan. 14, lawmakers will consider a measure to exempt farm equipment purchases from sales tax.

Currently, farmers pay 1.5 percent sales tax on farm equipment in Alabama, while farmers in the nearby states of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are exempt from such taxes. “Buying a new piece of farm equipment is often an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Brian Hardin, the federation’s governmental and agricultural programs director.

“Alabama’s sales tax rate amounts to thousands more our farmers must pay when buying equipment. Removing this state sales tax will help Alabama farmers stay competitive by allowing them to update and replace equipment at the same cost farmers in other states are paying.”

Another federation farm legislative priority seeks to remove the limitation on F-4 registered tags for farm tractor-trailers used to transport commodities or equipment. By law, farmers may only register one F-4 tag. Any additional trailers must be registered with the more expensive X license tag.

“Farmers use these tractor-trailers for about three months of the year to transport their harvest and large equipment,” said David Cole, the federation’s state legislative programs director for the Alabama House of Representatives. “Farmers shouldn’t have to pay the premium price for an X tag. Our goal is to allow farmers to purchase unlimited F-4 tags.”

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, an F-4 tag costs $250 and is used for tractor-trailers weighing more than 42,001 pounds.

During the upcoming session, the federation will seek to protect landowners’ investments.

“We’ll be monitoring eminent domain legislation and will support bills that give landowners greater security,” said Matthew Durdin, the federation’s state legislative programs director for the Alabama Senate.

Revising eminent domain law would require a constitutional amendment.

The federation will support legislation to amend the state cotton checkoff program. Farmers pay the checkoff at the selling point; however growers currently may request a reimbursement. Cotton checkoff funds are used for research, promotion and education about the crop.

Another measure supported by the federation would prohibit construction of public buildings using certification standards that discourage the use of Alabama lumber. The change would benefit Alabama’s forestry industry, which generates $21.4 billion annually for the state and employs 122,020 people.

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