Application for agricultural classification must be made every year by March 1st. The initial application is made on Form DR-482.
All applications are field checked to verify the usage and to ensure correct assessments. Additional information will be requested from the property owner to determine the continuance of eligibility. This information is usually in the form of income and expense documents (such as Form 1040F or 1040C from the most recent year's federal tax return, or an Operating Statement with detailed income and expenses) and will be requested on a regular basis. All financial documents will be kept confidential in this office. If this is a startup year, a Business Plan is required.
If the landowner is leasing the land to another party, then a lease is required and must be in effect as of January 1st.
A copy of this lease must be provided to this office and must state the effective length, terms and conditions. It is the responsibility of the landowner to make sure the lessee complies with all the laws that govern agricultural classification.
A lease alone is not sufficient evidence that a parcel is in commercial agricultural use. Approved income and expense documents should also be submitted.
If the application is denied, you will receive a letter on or before July 1st. This letter will explain the appeal process.
If the agricultural classification is approved, you will receive an agricultural classification renewal card or "green card" no later than January 31st of each year. Please read this receipt carefully, as it is in effect your application for that year. Even though the classification has been automatically renewed, the application can still be denied if the operation does not meet the proper criteria.
When the property is sold, or when the name of the owner is changed in any way, the agricultural classification is automatically removed and a new application must be made on Form DR-482. It is the responsibility of the property owner to notify this office of any change in the status or use of the property with an agricultural classification.
Agricultural classification is not an across-the-board exemption. The agriculturally classified value is determined through a formula that uses the potential income produced by the agricultural operation as a principal factor. This value per acre is different for each agricultural use and will usually result in a lower assessed value per acre than the market land value. The land must be used for a bona fide commercial agricultural operation or the agricultural classification will be denied. Only the acreage that is actually used for the agricultural operation can be classified. Intent to use is not considered.
Any residence on the property causes a portion of the property (generally one acre) to be removed from the agricultural classification. This area is assessed at the current market value and is referred to as a home site.
Requirements for Agricultural Use of Lands
Pursuant to Florida Statute 193.461 (3)(b), "Only lands that are used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes shall be classified agricultural. The term "bona fide agricultural purposes" means good faith commercial agricultural use of the land."
January 1st is the statutory assessment date. Therefore, the property must be in bona fide commercial agricultural use, or reasonable effort must have been made and continues to be made, on this date.
Agricultural Use Guidelines
- Property must be properly fenced if used for livestock. Hay or pasture sod (i.e. Bahia) operations need not be fenced to qualify.
- Proper care and management of the land must be evident and records must be provided upon request.
- Production of livestock for personal use does not qualify.
- If the landowner is using the land for horse boarding, there should be a written agreement/lease between the parties involved. Further, the landowner must obtain a county occupational license for horse boarding. Agricultural classification is not normally granted for horses boarded in a stable only. There must be some agricultural land use involved.
- For horse breeding, requirements include a breeding plan, as well as approved income and expense documents showing that the horses are in fact being bred and sold.
- Pleasure horses do not qualify.
- Trees must be planted prior to January 1st, or at the very least, the land must be prepared for citrus planting.
- Agricultural values for citrus are based on type of fruit and effective age of grove. A citrus questionnaire must be submitted with the application.
- Proper care and management of the grove must be evident and records must be provided upon request.
- Nurseries (both above and in ground) require a Florida state certificate of registration. This certificate can be obtained by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Division of Plant Industry.
- Only land areas actually used for the nursery and service areas shall be classified.
- Types of Nurseries:
- In Ground (ornamentals and woody ornamentals)
- Above Ground (in containers)
- Flower Farm (flowers only)
- The beekeeper must be registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and provide this office with a copy of their registration.
- The beekeeper must have all hives inspected annually and provide this office with a copy of the inspection certificate.
- The beekeeper must have their own, or access to, honey extracting equipment and hive building and repair equipment.
- The beekeeper must provide this office with approved income and expense documents showing business activity in beekeeping.
- Land classified as agricultural for bee yards would be land area that is used to house bees and produce plants that produce nectar or forage for the bees. Adjacent land areas used by the bees but not owned by the applicant cannot be considered as part of the application. Currently, the requirement for bee yards is 25 hives per acre. A hive being a receptacle that houses a colony of bees or localized population of bees.
- A certificate from the Florida Department of Agriculture is also required showing the bees are disease free.
- This category is in reference to those agricultural products referred to as vegetables (oriental vegetables, lychee/longans, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, etc.)
- Production of crops for personal use does not qualify.
- A Forest Management Plan, prepared by a professional forester, must be submitted with the initial application. This can be obtained through a private professional forester or the Florida Department of Agriculture, Florida Forest Service.
- Ongoing activities such as cutting of fire lanes, thinning of trees, under brushing, reforesting and any other activity recommended by the Management Plan should be readily apparent.
- Sugar cane, sod, swine, poultry, ratite, fish farms, aquaculture, and fruit other than citrus will be handled on a case by case basis. The Agriculture Appraiser with this office will make the final determination.
While specific, these are only guidelines. The granting of all or part of a specific application for agricultural classification is a decision made after analyzing the entirety of the relevant facts and circumstances of each parcel. Under no circumstances shall an agricultural classification be promised to a taxpayer prior to completion of a final analysis of these facts and circumstances, and no taxpayer should rely on any representation that their property will be granted agricultural classification until such time as the final decision has been made by this office.