A great step towards encouraging farming and addressing food security.

On June 22, 2023, Assemblywoman Savannah Fletcher sponsored an Ordinance that would ask Fairbanks North Star Borough voters to vote on property tax exemption for agricultural building. The ballot will have this ordinance for voters on October 3, 2023.

This ballot measure will grant property tax exemption on structures that are used for farming activity. Farming activity includes growing crops. Livestock, processing, and storage of farm animals like pigs, chicken, cattle as well as storage of produce and grain grown for consumption.

There are some requirements such as, structure or building must be owned by the person pursuing the agricultural activity and directly related to the agricultural focus of the entity.

Apparently, a state statue allows for this exemption, which had not been discovered up until now. Local farmers brought that to Ms. Fetchers attention. Due to the ever increasing food insecurity issue in our community, this ballot measure is long overdue and makes so much sense. This will go a long way towards encouraging farming activity and bring new farming endeavors to interior Alaska.

There are many guidelines on permissible activities. This will exclude home based residential operations, and Marijuana and ornamental farming operations. There will be more details that might emerge, but the bottom line is this measure supports the hard-working farmers that bring food to our table.

Farmers are backing this ballot measure. It supports the existing farmers, but also encourages new farmers to grow, manage and store. This will directly affect those that are growing food. Agricultural activity is costly, high shipping costs, feed, fertilizer, not to mention long arduous hours getting food to grow and feed consumers. It is a labor of love. Perhaps this exemption will help farmers grow more food for our consumption.

We live in a geographically challenging area. It is cold. The season is short. And changing weather patterns can lay ruins to crops overnight. Let us support these farmers, and help them as well as ourselves in achieving self-sufficiency, food security and promoting farming and other agricultural activities that will have a positive effect overall for us all.