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 are 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 or the purpose of meeting the five acre eligibility requirement.
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 1998 tax year, using soil group B, "good farmland", the values for cropland harvested ranged from $520 to $720 per acre by county.
The imputed grazing values for soil group B ranged from $73 to $79 per acre by county. This annual report also provides values for cropland pastured, permanent pasture, and appurtenant and non-appurtenant woodland.
"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 an meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under and 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 there from.
"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 then 90 continuous days.
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:
- 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.
- On a 10 acre parcel of land , 3.5 acres are devoted to growing crops and generate annual gross ale 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 is does not 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.
- On an 8.5 acre parcel of land, .5 acres is sued with the house, and 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 inputted to grazing is determined to be $375. Since the five a res 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.
- 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 requirements 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.
It is the owner's responsibility to annually complete an application for Farmland Assessment. For rented land, the name Social Security number of the farmer and the current year's farming activity must be provided. The municipal assessor may require clear evidence of sales, especially where farming activities are not readily apparent.
Rent received from a farmer is not considered the sale of an agricultural or horticultural commodity, and can not be used to meet the sales requirement for farmland assessment. Instead the value of production sold from the land by the lessee is used.
There are three types of woodland to be considered in tax assessment.
- Self-qualifying woodland or acreage composed of woodland which clearly qualifies for farmland assessment, meeting all statutory requirements in respect to income, acreage, years actively devoted to agricultural use, and compliance with an approved wood lot management plan. Self qualifying woodland is deemed to be none appurtenant woodland, and is entered as such on the farmland assessment application form FA-1.
To qualify this type of woodland the following additional requirements must be met and submitted annually:
- A wood lot management plan certified by an approved forester (first year only, until plan is renewed or changed).
- A woodland data form (WD-1).
- A scaled map indicating location of woodland activity and soil classes; and
- An exact copy of the information submitted to the assessor is to be submitted at the same time, to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protect.
- A wood lot management plan certified by an approved forester (first year only, until plan is renewed or changed).
- Supportive woodland is woodland acreage, which is part of a crop or livestock farm, and which does not contribute income to the farm, but does contribute benefits to the farm, such as lumber or fencing for on farm use, protection from wind, erosion, water conservation, or buffer areas for the farm from neighbors. This woodland is deemed to be appurtenant woodland and is entered under this category on the Form FA-1.
A wooded piece of property is presumed to be supportive and subordinate woodland when its area is less than the area of cropland and pasture land qualifying for farmland assessment. an owner claiming farmland assessment for a wooded piece of property exceeding the acreage in cropland or pasture land shall submit an explanation and additional profits the assessor, may require to support the claim that such woodland is supportive and subordinate.
- Un-managed woodland, which represents land in trees standing alone, or woodland which is not supportive and subordinate to otherwise qualifying farmland. There is no qualifying agricultural activity whereby the acreage might be considered "actively devoted" to an agricultural use.
Un-managed woodland is not eligible for qualification under the Farmland Assessment Act.
For additional information on woodland management and farmland assessment, the Bureau of Forest Management, NJ Department of Environmental Protection may be contacted at 609-292-2531.
The liability for rollback taxes attaches to the land at the time a change in use of the land occurs, but not when a change in ownership takes place, if the new owner continues to devote the land to agricultural or horticultural use in conformity with the requirements of the Act. any land which changes from an eligible agricultural or horticultural use under the Farmland assessment Act to some other non-farm use is subject to rollback taxes for the year in which the change takes place and for such of the two tax years immediately preceding, in which the land was valued, assessed and taxed under the Act.
Form FA-1 and Form WD-1 if required, must be filed annually with the tax assessor on or before August 1 of the year preceding the year for which Farmland Assessment is being applied for. An extension of time for filing is extended to December 1 of the pre-tax year if the taxing district completes a revaluation or reassessment of all real property in time to be reflected in the assessments for the next succeeding tax year.
The assessor may grant an extension of time for filing the application for farmland assessment which extension shall terminate no later than September 1 of the pre-tax year, in any event where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the assessor that failure to file by August 1 was due to:
- The illness of the owner certified by a physician stating a physical incapacity; or
- The death of the owner or immediate member of the owner's family and a certified copy of the death certificate is filed with the application by the individual legally responsible for the estate of the owner, or the owner, as the case may be.
An assessor shall not approve an extension of time to file an application for farmland assessment in cases where the death of the owner or a member of the owner's immediate family occurred prior to January 1 of the pre-tax year.
By law, an on-site inspection of the land will be made by the tax assessor at least once every three years. However, on-site inspections may be made as many times as reasonably necessary to establish the eligibility status of the land for the purpose of approving or disapproving the application.
Section 1 - Identification Information
The name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, land location and block(s) and lot(s) are to be filled in.
The land may be farmed solely by the owner, rented to a farmer, or farmed by the owner and tenant. If the farmland is farmed by someone other than the owner, information on the farm operator including a Social Security number needs to be provided.
Section II - Breakdown of Land Use Classes
Acreage in a tract of land is either actively devoted or not actively devoted. Land not actively devoted is assessed at its true value. Refer to the definition of land use classes in order to correctly place the acreage by its use in the current (pre-tax) year.
- "Cropland Harvested" is land from which a crop is harvested during the current year, land under farm buildings, in nurseries, Christmas trees or land in government programs.
- "Cropland Pastured" is land that can be and often is used to produce crops but its maximum income may not be realized in a particular year. an example of "cropland pasture" is on which cover crops are grown as part of a regular crop rotation.
- "Permanent Pasture" is land that is not cultivated because its maximum economic potential is realized from grazing or as part of erosion control programs. Animals may or may not be part of the farm operation for land to be qualified in this category.
- "Non-appurtenant Woodland" is forest land devoted to the production for sale of trees and forest products (except for Christmas tress which should be entered in the cropland harvested classification). Also woodland which is not "supportive and subordinate" to cropland harvested, cropland pastured or permanent pasture land should be entered under this classification. When acreage is entered as "non-appurtenant woodland" additional documentation must be submitted to the assessor and to the Department of Environmental Protection.
- "Appurtenant Woodland" is woodland which is not devoted tot he production for sale of trees and forest products, but nevertheless can be eligible for farmland assessment on the basis of being beneficial to a tract of land which is 5 acres or more and is otherwise actively devoted and qualified farmland. Generally, only woodland acreage in cropland harvested, cropland pastured, or permanent pasture will be considered as "appurtenant woodland". Woodland acreage exceeding the otherwise actively devoted farmland should only be entered as "appurtenant woodland" when proof of its benefit to the otherwise actively devoted farmland can e explained and substantiated to the assessor.
- "Acreage Used for Boarding, Rehabilitating or Training Livestock" - For this acreage to be deemed actively devoted to an agricultural use it must be contiguous to land which otherwise qualifies for farmland assessment. Note: This acreage does not include acreage that is pastured.
- "Land Under and Used in Connection with the Farmhouse" - This lad on which the farmhouse is located together with such land area as may be devoted to lawns, flower gardens, shrubs, etc. and like purposes related to the use and enjoyment of the farmhouse. only the land actually used with the residence should be assessed at the residential rate.
SECTION III - Current Year Farming Activity
In filling out the number of acres in Section III, it is possible to exceed the total acreage of all land reported in Section II in that tow plantings in the same year (double cropping) is to be reported as the acreage for each crop. For example two plantings on 25 acres should be reported as 50 acres.
- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will answer questions on agriculture and horticultural production related to farmland assessment requirements. 609-984-2503
- The New Jersey Division of Taxation will answer questions on tax procedures, tax laws, regulations, and court cases. 609-292-7874
- The Bureau of Forestry Management will answer questions concerning woodland. 609-292-2531
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Hunterdon County can provide information on crop and livestock production, farm management and marketing and other related topics.
- Mercer County Division of Planning