North Carolina General Assembly Review

With the General Assembly adjourned until May 14, 2014, below are a few bills from this session pertaining to Agriculture:

The Tax Simplification and Reduction Act, HB 998. The bill reduces personal income tax to a flat rate of 5.8 percent in 2014 and 5.75 percent in 2015. The standard deduction is $15,000 for married couples filing jointly, $12,000 for those filing as head of household and $7,500 for those filing single. The bill sets a $20,000 cap on deductions for home mortgage interest and taxes paid on real property. It does not cap deductions on charitable contributions. The corporate income tax drops to 6 percent in 2014 and 5 percent in 2015. Of particular importance to agriculture, HB 998 eliminates the North Carolina estate tax. In addition, farmers with an annual gross income in excess of $10,000 continue to receive agricultural sales tax exemptions for items such as feed, seed, chemicals, equipment, vaccines, fertilizer, fuel and electricity. However, the bill eliminates certain tax credits for conservation tillage equipment, gleaned crop, construction of poultry composting facilities, and property taxes paid on farm machinery.

NC Farm Act of 2013 (SB 638) contains several important revisions to agricultural law. It enhances legal protections for fruit and vegetable producers who have Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certifications. The bill also limits liability for farm animal operations and agritourism activities. In addition it exempts farmers who use farm buildings for public and private events, such as weddings, from certain State Building Code requirements. Further, SB 638 exempts farmers who own one-story migrant housing facilities that satisfy state and federal regulations from the Building Code’s sprinkler system requirements. Finally, the bill makes clear that landowners may withdraw water that is located on their property for agricultural uses during water shortages.

NC Agriculture and Forestry Act, (HB 614) made several revisions to North Carolina’s right-to-farm law, which protects farmers from nuisance law suits under certain circumstances.

Tobacco Growers Assessment Act, (HB 816) authorizes tobacco growers to assess themselves to promote the interests of North Carolina tobacco growers.

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