A small honey bee apiary

On farm status for beekeepers and tax assessments

There isn’t a day when I am talking to people about bees that they don’t say something like “is it true that honey bees are dying off, or that they are in trouble?” I usually take the time to explain the considerable problems facing beekeepers today: varroa mites, pesticides, monoculture crops and an agriculture industry underpinned by genetically-modified organisms.
But the following story actually shows another issue beekeepers face, particularly as pressure mounts from governments to get all the taxes they can from small-lot farmers.
This story in the Mail Tribune in southern Oregon about a fight a Rogue River beekeeper is having over land assessments shows how nearsighted governments can be when it comes to how they regard honey bees.
Don’t think this is a problem unique to the United States. In Canada small landholders also face constant pressure from taxing authorities over farm status and the lower tax rate it brings. I know of one Kelowna-area farmer who is constantly fending off assessors who want to reclassify his treed property across the road from his fields because they don’t think it is valid range for his cattle.
Here’s what the B.C. Assessment Authority’s farm classification section says about qualifying for farm status
Beekeepers  face an uphill battle. It may be easy to convince landowners of several acres of unused farmland that they can qualify for farm status by letting us establish apiaries and breeding yards. But convincing tax assessors that these activities are genuine farm activities is sometimes difficult. They often want to believe that small-lot beekeeping, like keeping a few horses,  is a hobby.
My retort to that is to think about the next time you put a spoonful of blueberries in your mouth, make a pumpkin pie, bite into an apple or put honey in your tea. These are all the byproducts of beekeeping.
I don’t know how the Rogue River beekeeper is going to make out. But taxing authorities have to recognize that it doesn’t matter how small the livestock is or how it moves; bees are a product of and a benefit to the agricultural community.

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