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Requirements for Farmland Assessment

BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF FARMLAND ASSESSMENT

In the case where a taxpayer submits an application for farmland assessment that has not been filed previously to qualify for farmland preservation, the owner shall submit a map of land use classes and soil groups as described in the Report of the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee which is published annually each October 1 by the NJ Division of Taxation. A copy of this report can be obtained by calling the Division at 609-984-2503.

AREA OF LAND DEVOTED

In determining the area of devoted or qualified land, all the land under barns, sheds, seasonal farm markets selling predominantly agricultural products, seasonal agricultural labor housing, soils, cribs, greenhouses and like structures, lakes, dams, ponds, streams irrigation ditches and like facilities is included. Land under the farmhouse, and such additional land as may be actually used in connections with the farmhouse, including, but not limited to, land used for lawns, flower gardens, shrubs, recreation and for like purposes, is excluded in determining the total area.

Where individual parcels of land in agriculture or horticultural use under a single ownership are located in the same taxing district, compliance with the five-acre minimum area eligibility requirement is deemed to have been met if the individual parcels are contiguous and the aggregate eligible area thereof is at least five acres. For the purpose of this Section, land under single ownership, separated by a public right of way, is deemed to be contiguous.

Where contiguous land in agricultural or horticultural use in one ownership is located in more than one taxing district, compliance with the five-acre minimum requirement is determined on the basis of the total eligible area of such land and not the area which is located in the particular taxing district.

Where separate, noncontiguous parcels of land in agricultural or horticultural use, in a single ownership, are located in the same taxing district, a separate application for farmland assessment must be made with respect to each parcel. The area of the separate parcels may not be aggregated for the purpose of meeting the five acre eligibility requirement.

ASSESSMENT VALUE

The Farmland Assessment Act established the Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee made up of the Director of the Division of Taxation, the Dean of Cook College and the State Secretary of Agriculture. The Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee publishes ranges of fair value for utilization by assessors in assessing qualified farmland in accordance with its agricultural or horticultural use.

The productivity values established by the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee are reported by the use of the land, soil group for each county. Soil groups are from "A" being the most productive to "E" being the least productive farmland.

For the 2003 tax year, using soil group B, "good farmland", the values for cropland harvested was $660 per acre for Sussex County.

The imputed grazing value for soil group B was $100 per acre for Sussex County. This annual report also provides values for cropland pastured, permanent pasture, and appurtenant and non-appurtenant woodland.

DEFINITIONS

"Agriculture Use" is land devoted to the production for sale of plants and animals useful to man, including but not limited to forages and sod crops; grains and feed crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including beef, cattle, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules or goats, including the breeding, boarding, raising, rehabilitating, training or grazing of any or all such animals except "livestock" shall not include dogs; bees and apiary products; fur-animals; trees and forest products or when devoted to and meeting the new requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the Federal government.

"Horticultural Use" is land devoted to the production for sale of fruits of all kinds including grapes, nuts and berries; vegetables; nursery, floral, ornamental and greenhouse products; or when devoted to and meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the Federal Government.

"Beneficial to a Tract of Land" means land which enhances the use of other land devoted to agricultural or horticultural production by providing benefits such as, but not limited to, windbreaks, watershed, buffers, soil erosion control, or other recognizable enhancements of the viability of the qualifying land.

"Change in Use" means when land valued under the Farmland Assessment Act is applied to a use other than agriculture or horticulture, including being abandoned from farming.

"Fees Received for Grazing" means only those fees which are actually paid in consideration for grazing and which reasonably reflect the value of grazing provided. The income which would otherwise be imputed to land used for grazing as established and determined by the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee shall be prima facie evidence of those fees which reasonably reflect the value of the grazing provided.

"Income Imputed to Land Used For Grazing" means values for the pasturing of livestock as established by the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee.

"Raising Livestock" means the management, caring and feeding of livestock for the purpose of producing for sale as a farm product either the livestock themselves or produced therefrom.

"Seasonal Agricultural Labor Housing" means dwelling units designed solely for lodging laborers and their family members where laborers are employed to perform seasonal agricultural or horticultural labor on the contiguous land, five acres or more, qualifying for farmland assessment. Notwithstanding a claim as labor employed on the land, any housing which is either occupied by the landowner, the landowner's spouse, or their children, parents or siblings or is not vacant annually for a minimum period of 90 continuous days during any period of 12 continuous months shall not be deemed to be "seasonal agricultural labor housing".

"Seasonal Farm Market" means a facility utilized for the primary purpose of selling predominately agricultural or horticultural products, and which is annually closed to business during the off season for a period of not less than 90 continuous days.

LIVESTOCK – Including Criteria for Equine Operations

The breeding, boarding, raising, rehabilitating, training or grazing of livestock, which includes horses, is defined as an agricultural use. The boarding, raising, rehabilitating, training or grazing of livestock is also an agricultural use, but to be "actively devoted" boarding, rehabilitating or training facilities must be contiguous to land which otherwise qualifies for valuation, assessment and taxation under the Farmland Assessment Act.

It is to be noted that fees received for boarding, rehabilitating or training livestock are not counted when qualifying the initial five acres of land that is contiguous to a boarding, rehabilitating or training facility. However, fees received for breeding, raising or grazing any livestock and income imputed to land used for grazing can be counted.

The following examples are offered to assist in understanding the revisions made to the Farmland Assessment Act in 1995 that relate to boarding, rehabilitating or training livestock.

  1. On a 10 acre parcel of land, six acres are devoted to growing crops and generate annual gross sales of $650. The remaining four acres are used for boarding horses and generate annual boarding fees of $8,500. Since the land used for boarding horses is contiguous to land five acres or more otherwise qualifying for farmland assessment, the fees from boarding may be included to meet the minimum gross income requirement and qualify the entire 10 acre parcel.
  2. On a 10 acre parcel of land, 3.5 acres are devoted to growing crops and generate annual gross sales of $450. The remaining 6.5 acres are used for boarding horses and generate annual boarding fees of $10,500. The land contiguous to the land used for boarding horses does not otherwise qualify for farmland assessment, both because it is not at least five acres in area and because it doesn't meet the minimum $500 income requirement for the first five acres. Therefore, the fees from boarding may not be included to meet the minimum gross income requirements and the entire 10 acre parcel is ineligible for qualification.
  3. On an 8.5 acre parcel of land, .5 acres is used with the house, and the three acres are devoted to boarding and training horses which produces fees of $3,200. The remaining five acres are utilized for grazing the boarded horses. Income imputed to grazing is determined to be $375. Since the five acres used for grazing does not have an imputed value for such use of at least $500, it is not eligible for farmland assessment. The three acre portion used for boarding and training is also ineligible because it is not contiguous to land which otherwise qualifies for farmland assessment.
  4. Three horses and a pony are kept on their owners land for pleasure riding. The animals pasture on 14 acres which have an imputed grazing value of $725. Although the imputed grazing value exceeds the income requirement for qualification, the land nevertheless would be ineligible for farmland assessment since the livestock are not raised for sale, the livestock do not produce products for sale, and the grazing is not connected with breeding, raising, boarding, rehabilitating or training activities.

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