For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
Contact: Larry Bohlen, 202-783-7400 x25
Gawain Kripke, 202-783-7400 x212
States Lose $674 Million a Year to Sales Tax
Exemptions for Pesticides, Fertilizers
Farm, Consumer, and Environmental Groups Call on States
to Reform Tax System to Support Sustainable Agriculture
Today, Friends of the Earth and nine other consumer, farm and environmental groups called upon officials in 29 states to eliminate exemptions from their state sales taxes for agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. The groups said the $674 million in lost revenue should be used to support family farms, sustainable agriculture, and conservation education.
The groups released a report, "Fair Agricultural Chemical Taxes: Tax Reform for Sustainable Agriculture" that shows that 29 of 50 states exempt agricultural chemicals from state sales taxes, resulting in an annual loss of $674 million in revenue. The ten states losing the most revenue are Minnesota ($65 million); Texas ($62 million); Illinois ($59 million); California ($54 million); Florida ($50 million); Indiana ($45 million); Washington ($36 million); Kansas ($36 million); Ohio ($35 million); and Missouri ($27 million).
"State governments should not be subsidizing the use of poisons and pollution in agriculture," said Larry Bohlen, Director of Health and Environment Programs at Friends of the Earth. "If state officials want tax breaks for farmers, there are better ways than subsidizing pollution."
The report highlights health and environmental problems caused by over-reliance on pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture. For instance, in Dane County, Wisconsin, over 1/3 of rural well water is contaminated with nitrates making it unsafe for infants to drink. Nationwide, health and environmental costs as a consequence of pesticide use alone are estimated to be about $8 billion per year.
"More and more Americans are asking for food free from chemicals and genetic manipulation. Government should change with the times * not stand in the way of a healthier food supply," said Larry Bohlen.
The report suggests a wide range of options for state officials to tailor sales tax revenue to their state's needs. Funding could be used, for instance, to help farmers make the transition away from chemically-intensive practices, to clean up contaminated sites, or for tax relief promoting farming but not heavy use of chemicals.
The "Fair Agricultural Chemical Taxes" (FACT) report is available on the web at www.foe.org/fact. Copies of the report are available to the public for $10 each to cover postage and printing. Please call Friends of the Earth at 202-783-7400 and ask
for the Publications Office.
Fair Agri-Chemical tax Campaign
Friends of the Earth
1025 Vermont Ave., NW Third Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Ph: (202) 783-7400 ext 258
Fax: (202) 783-0444
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