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Report: Grain handlers’ discount drains state resources

• Apr 4, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Ohio’s rural landscape is dotted with big, silvery grain storage facilities. In some places, concrete silos tower over railroad tracks.

These are where some of the nation’s largest grain handling companies store grain produced by Ohio farmers before moving it to market.

And for that, the state of Ohio gives them a tax break of about $8 million a year while more pressing needs go underfunded, according to Policy Matters report.

Five of the United States’ top 20 grain handlers operate in Ohio, according to a new “Tax Break Take” by Senior Project Director Wendy Patton.

Arthur Daniels Midland (ADM), one of the beneficiaries, operates in 171 countries and reports 2016 net sales of $62.3 billion. As the new Tax Expenditure Review Committee continues its work to review Ohio’s $9 billion in annual tax breaks, Patton says they should evaluate the grain handler discount against other, more urgent, needs in the state.

“In 2000, Ohio spent $16 million a year on making sure home-bound elderly people get help with meals, transportation and more,” Patton said. “Legislators cut funding for those programs to just $7 million. The grain handlers’ discount goes to some of the biggest agricultural companies in the nation. Our seniors need the help more than those companies need the extra dollars.”

State lawmakers passed the tax break in 2013 to exempt commercial grain handlers from the Commercial Activity Tax, Ohio’s main business tax, to better compete with regional grain handing co-ops that were already exempt.

“We should actually be including co-ops in the base of the Commercial Activity Tax as well,” Patton said. “All businesses should be paying their fair share of Ohio’s primary business tax.”

According to its “who we are” statement on its website, Policy Matters is “a non-profit policy research institute. We create a more vibrant, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio through research, strategic communications, coalition building and policy advocacy.”

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