US: Colorado bill aims to lower tax rate for hydroponic facilities

A bill introduced into the Colorado Legislature this week is designed to help hydroponic facilities lower their operating costs. The measure, House Bill 1301, would define such operations as “controlled environment agricultural facilities,” meaning their property taxes would be based on the lower agricultural assessment rate of 13%, instead of the higher 29% rate assessed on commercial operations. The bill was introduced by Reps. Matt Soper, R-Delta, and Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle.

Soper said he introduced the bill to help farms and ranches that want to turn to hydroponics because they don’t have enough water to grow food for their livestock. He got the idea from Andrew and Mandy Massey, who operate a ranch in Gateway.

“They have found a new technology to deal with drought, climate change and over appropriation of the river,” Soper said. “They wanted to be able to stay on their family ranch in Gateway, but there was not enough water to grow the alfalfa and hay to sustain a herd of cattle. The young couple invested in hydroponics, which they had seen on ranches in eastern Utah.”

The problem is, however, that Colorado tax law defines such facilities as commercial, and not agriculture, dramatically increasing their tax burden. Roberts floated a similar idea near the end of last year’s legislative session, but because it was too late in the session, he never introduced a bill.

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