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Updated Nebraska Property Valuation Protest

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Well-known member
Feb 11, 2005
Reaction score
northern Nebraska Sandhills
There was a hearing for Property Tax Protests at the Cherry County court house in Valentine last Friday, July 23, 2010.
This was my presentation, even though I knew it would be like spitting in the wind. I was the only participant to show up
at the commissioners' meeting, but thought I should at least voice my opinion. :wink:


Spearhead Ranch
July 22, 2010

Property Valuation Protest

I am a fourth generation Sandhills cattle rancher from Cherry County, Nebraska. In 1885, my great-grandfather
and three of his brothers came by train to Valentine, which was then the end of the railroad. They walked out to the
Merriman area to file on homesteads, and our family has lived and ranched here ever since. We strive to raise
high quality cattle, with the end result being to help feed a hungry nation with great tasting beef. My wife and I have
three children who are also involved in our ranching operation. They are hard-working motivated young people who are
a credit to the local area. Young people are the greatest natural resource in any community. For the benefit of our county,
state, and nation as a whole, it is necessary to make local agriculture attractive as a lifestyle and profitable as an occupation.
With taxes and other necessary expenses continually on the rise, and cattle prices staying relatively stagnant, our very
livelihoods are at stake.

My father is 87 years old and has seen a multitude of changes in his lifetime. Back in 1997 he came upon a chart showing
the average selling price for a 450 pound calf from 1987 to 1996. At that time, he went through the ranch tax receipts and figured
the number of calves that it took to pay the real estate tax for each of those years. This was figured on the 10,475 acres
that we own in Nebraska, based on average calf prices. I tried to find pertinent information to complete his chart, with the help
of sale reports from Valentine Livestock which are archived on their webpage.

Our family ranch straddles the Nebraska/South Dakota state-line northeast of Merriman. The tax chart is based only
on our deeded property in Nebraska. This 10,475 acres is good cattle country, and if run as a complete unit on a year-round
basis would handle 500 cows plus bulls and replacements. Even though cattle have gotten bigger and calves that are sold have
increased in weight, bigger cattle require more acres. To keep comparisons standard, the chart is based on a 450 pound
selling calf all through the years. It is noteworthy that the least amount of calves to pay the real estate tax was 23 in 1989,
compared to last year when the value of more than 76 calves was needed to pay the tax, a more than 300 percent increase.
This is bad enough, but the powers that be have recently increased the valuation of our ranch by an average of 6.62% on all land
parcels. This will ultimately and significantly increase our taxes once again. Where does it end? The chart is on the following page.
Some information was not available, but had it been, I am sure the results would have fallen within the parameters of what was available.

Land prices have stabilized, or even gone down. Regardless, unless a rancher intends to sell out, rising land prices do no good
for those of us who intend to stay in the business. The outcome of higher land value serves only to make our taxes go up,
which soon could prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for those trying to make a living in agriculture.

When agriculture prospers, Main Street prospers. If ranchers and farmers are showing a bit of profit, they spend freely.
Whole communities benefit greatly when agriculture is in the black. Conversely, if agriculture is in the dumps it doesn’t
take long before every business on Main Street is directly or indirectly affected. If our leaders could keep taxes at a minimum,
everyone would benefit and many jobs would be created.

Thank you for your consideration,


Year----Nebraska tax----CWT price---Dollars per Head---Calves required
-----------------------------------------------------------------to pay the taxes
1987------- $10,961--- $ 84.74--- $381.83--- 28.7
1988------- $10,771--- $ 96.47--- $434.11--- 24.8
1989------- $10,250--- $ 98.76--- $444.94--- 23.0
1990------- $13,727--- $103.22--- $464.49--- 29.6
1991------- $12,086--- $105.69--- $475.61--- 25.3
1992------- $13,377--- $ 96.77--- $435.47--- 39.5
1993------- $16,026--- $103.15--- $464.18--- 37.3
1994------- $20,436--- $ 93.42--- $420.39--- 48.3
1995------- $20,277--- $ 80.00--- $360.00--- 56.3
1996------- $19,653--- $ 64.00--- $288.00--- 68.2
1997------- $22,850
1998------- $21,265
1999------- $20,837
2000------- $23,200
2001------- Not Available
2002------- $24,376
2003------- Not Available
2004------- $28,822--- $144.00--- $648.00--- 42.2
2005------- $31,186--- $152.00--- $684.00--- 45.6
2006------- $30,698--- $142.00--- $639.00--- 48.0
2007------- $33,638--- $134.00--- $603.00--- 55.8
2008------- $38,032--- $118.00--- $531.00--- 71.6
2009------- $39,432--- $115.00--- $518.00--- 76.2

William Jennings Bryan was a notable Nebraskan from a century ago. He summed it all up very succinctly when he stated,
“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms
and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”


Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
Reaction score
Southeastern Colorado
Mien Gott im Himmel, Soapweed! (OMG)

Our ranch in Eastern Colorado was some 24,000 acres, certainly not as good as Sandhills country, but taxes were about $7500 the year we sold out. And that included some plus or minus 4000 acres of farm ground that gets taxed higher.

There is some oil production in the county which helped.



Well-known member
Dec 14, 2009
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east of KC MO
Good presentation. I noticed how your tax burden had quadrupled while your calf price didn't even double yet over all those years.


Well-known member
Sep 25, 2006
Reaction score
Eastern Colorado
Cowpuncher said:
Mien Gott im Himmel, Soapweed! (OMG)

Our ranch in Eastern Colorado was some 24,000 acres, certainly not as good as Sandhills country, but taxes were about $7500 the year we sold out. And that included some plus or minus 4000 acres of farm ground that gets taxed higher.

There is some oil production in the county which helped.


Colorado farms are taxed on production value instead of land sale value. Thanks Nate Patton and other Cattlemen that gave years of their lives to see this happen.

Good presentation Soap, you are to be commended for showing up. You needed every rancher in Cherry County to have been there, and something would have happened.

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