Horse legislation corralled by House committee

Rep. Bruce Anderson’s bill would provide property tax breaks to horse breeders, trainers
T.W. Budig

ECM Capitol Reporter

Legislation that could provide property tax breaks to horse breeders, trainers or boarders, became mired in the House Agriculture and Rural Development and Policy Committee on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Rep. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township, brought horse agriculture legislation before a House committee on Feb. 9. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

Rep. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township, is carrying legislation that describes horse-related agriculture as an intensive agricultural use that can be accomplished on limited acreage.

But it was a focus on acreage and intentions that helped waylay Anderson’s bill.
Anderson indicated as his bill was written — the use of the of the “intensive agricultural” provision — could allow landowners to apply for agricultural-related property tax breaks on land parcels under 10 acres.
Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, voiced concerns the legislation could be an invitation to hoodwink the state.
“There is a phenomenon of putting a pony in the backyard to get a property tax break,” he said. If one pony didn’t pass muster, maybe two ponies in the backyard would, Hansen theorized.
Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, picked up the cudgel, arguing that people might start throwing chickens into the backyard and seek a property tax break under the bill’s logic. “I’m just worried about opening the barn door,” Morrow said.
Bill supporters argued the horse industry in Minnesota was anything but backyard.
Horse industry advocate David Dayon, of Wind N Wood Farm in St. Michael, said 50 percent of the horses raced at Canterbury Park in Shakopee are Minnesota horses. The horse industry is big business in Minnesota, he argued.
It’s not some minuscule situation involving a few riding horses, he argued.
There are some 13,000 horse ranchers in Minnesota, and some 50 different breeds were recently shown at the Minnesota Horse Show, said a horse advocate. The average size of the horse ranch in the state is about 20 acres, they said.
But committee members expressed concerns over the problem Anderson’s legislation could present local tax assessors in trying to determine what exactly constituted a legitimate horse agricultural business.
Anderson expressed willingness to amend his bill, offering a possible amendment.
Another proposed amendment would have restricted the “intensive agricultural” language to land at least 10 acres in size.
But the committee ultimately decided to table Anderson’s bill, with the idea the kinks would be worked out.
Anderson joked about beating a dead horse when first presenting his bill — a quip concerning the years bills concerning the status of horses in agriculture have come before committees at the State Capitol.
The Senate version of the bill is carried by Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton.