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Granby voters approve tax relief for farmers

Granby voters adopted the measure 2-to-1 during Tuesday’s voting, with 2,084 in favor and 1,047 against.

Voters at the May 14 annual Town Meeting agreed to put the measure on Tuesday’s ballot. It asked if the town should “cease assessing the excise ... on certain animals, machinery and equipment owned by individuals and non-corporate entities principally engaged in agriculture.”

Town officials have said that adopting the measure would have little impact on town coffers.

The state Department of Revenue issued a 2009 memorandum to Massachusetts municipalities announcing that it would allow them to make exempt from excise taxes farmers, nonprofit organizations principally engaged in agriculture, and youth agricultural programs such as 4-H and Future Farmers.

The tax is $5 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The DOR directive said municipalities could only remove the tax if the measure was approved by voters in a general election. The tax exemption is not extended to dairy farmers, the DOR ruled.

The Granby Agricultural Commission sponsored the article on the May warrant asking for Tuesday’s ballot measure.

According to the town’s official website, Granby was settled in 1727 as part of South Hadley, but lacked that town’s water ways, which had enabled industrial development there. Agriculture was Granby’s main occupation, primarily dairy farming.

But farming in Granby declined throughout the 20th century and it became a bedroom community. Today, there are still a few working farms, such as the Sapowsky Farm, 434 East State St., and Red Fire Farm, 7 Carver St., that grow produce.

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