WHEREAS, to the New Jersey farmer, farmland assessment provides tax equity for land actively devoted to agricultural and horticultural uses; and
WHEREAS, to the New Jersey public, farmland assessment is a cornerstone public policy in keeping agriculture, and all its positive environmental, economic and aesthetic attributes, alive and well in this, the most densely populated state in the nation; and
WHEREAS, farmland assessment applies to the land used for agricultural production and farmers continue to pay the regular rate of property tax on their farmhouses and other structures; and
WHEREAS, if a property has a history of agricultural production and farmland assessment, but is sold, and where the new owners maintain the agricultural production and appropriate paperwork, the agricultural assessment will remain in effect; and
WHEREAS, maintaining privately managed farmland benefits municipal budgets because such farmland requires far less than a dollar’s worth of municipal and local school services for every dollar paid in property taxes while, conversely, residential development requires more than a dollar’s worth of those services for every dollar it generates in property taxes; and
WHEREAS, certain aspects of farmland assessment are the subject of debate concerning enforcement, education, and qualification criteria, and the agricultural community, whose continued farmland assessment tax equity relies in large part on maintaining the integrity of the program, looks forward to working with the Administration and Legislature to curb any identified abuses of the use of farmland assessment.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 97th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on January 18-19, 2012, reaffirm the paramount importance that farmland assessment has in providing equitable taxes on farmland and woodland actively devoted to an agricultural or horticultural use.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we direct the Department to be pro-active in its approach to ensuring that it makes available, both electronically and by other means, information to municipal tax assessors about the tax equity benefits of farmland assessment, along with any information regarding the FA-1 application form.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Department, in conjunction with the Division of Taxation, to continue working to educate municipal tax assessors on agricultural practices common throughout New Jersey, including biosecurity measures, and to provide additional information that will result in a more uniform interpretation of which lands qualify for farmland assessment and which lands don’t.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we believe hard-and-fast cropping intensity or livestock carrying capacity standards are not the best way to resolve issues regarding which lands qualify for farmland assessment, since such standards cannot adequately fit the broad scope of land forms, soil types and approved management practices suitable in New Jersey and could result in depletion of natural resources, and would increase the complexity of administering the program and unduly burden qualified land owners.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the agricultural industry in New Jersey supports reforms to the farmland assessment program that, while avoiding hard and fast mandates, remove properties that do not conform to the Division of Taxation guidelines for farmland assessment, and acknowledges the need to continually re-examine the criteria, including the amount of agricultural products sold, for qualifying for farmland assessment.