Current Use Tax Program
All states have programs, typically administered by departments of taxation, that offer reduced property taxes for land managed for agricultural or forestry use. Contact local assessors or the relevant department in your state to learn more about eligibility requirements and enrollment. This is important because a change in tenure or farm/forestry management can often affect enrollment status. Also, if a property had not been enrolled previously, certain types of leases or management scenarios can enable the property to become eligible for substantial property tax savings.
Conservation Easement or Restriction
If development rights on the property are removed or restricted, farm seekers will want to understand the details and implications. This legally binding agreement is typically called a conservation easement or conservation restriction. Sometimes it is more specifically an agricultural easement or restriction. Easements/restrictions vary in what they allow or restrict. Certain terms might affect the suitability of the property for a farming operation or at least certain farming activities. Many agricultural easements are written to help preserve and foster future farming. The land trust (or other entity) that holds the easement will monitor to make sure that the landowner is in compliance with the easement terms. Local land trusts or state agencies (registry of deeds) can provide copies of the easements if needed.
Forest Management Plan
A forest management plan is usually developed by a consulting forester in order to provide the woodland manager information about the commercial and ecological characteristics of a given woodland. They are also used to make recommendations for the management of the forest based on these characteristics and the goals of the property owner. Forest management plans are sometimes linked to the “Land Use” property tax programs, but property owners not enrolled in these programs can still benefit from having a forest management plan. Potential farm buyers may be interested in the commercial potential for woodland portions of the farm and a forest management plan can provide that information. A seeker may want to know if there is active or potential sugar bush, or other forest products.
The USDA provides for a legal definition of land which can be considered “organic” under federal organic regulations. Land that is not certified organic should not be represented as such. However, land that will be eligible for organic certification under the restrictions of these regulations can be advertised as “eligible for organic certification.” Visit MOFGA Certification for more information about organic certification requirements. If you know that no prohibited substances have been applied to the land in the previous 3 years, that may give the seeker enough initial information.