Questions and Answers

My neighbor said I can get an agricultural exemption to lower my property taxes on my land that’s zoned for agriculture. How many cows do I need to put on the property to qualify?

There is no agricultural exemption. However, there is an agricultural classification for land used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes. “Bona fide agricultural purposes” means good faith commercial agricultural use of the land. (Florida Statute 193.461)

The number of cows required for agricultural classification depends on the condition of your land and how many cows your land can support, together with your business plan. Please see the Agricultural Use Guidelines.

Can you “pre-approve” my proposed commercial agricultural use?

The Property Appraiser does not pre-approve agricultural use classifications. The granting of all or part of an application for agricultural classification is made only after all relevant information on the parcel has been analyzed by the Property Appraiser. A determination by the Property Appraiser on whether or not agricultural classification is approved will be made on or before July 1st.

How do I apply for agricultural classification?

Application must be made on pdfForm DR-482

  • 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.
  • The application must be signed and returned by March 1st
  • Provide supporting documentation with application

1) If the landowner is leasing the land to another party, then a written lease is required. A copy of this lease must be provided to this office. Bona fide leases shall include:

  • A start date and an end date. The lease must be in effect on January 1st.
  • Names of the land owner and tenant (lessor and lessee)
  • Number of acres leased
  • Address or legal description of parcel leased
  • Rental rate per unit (acre, etc.)
  • Use of the leased land
  • Terms of the lease
  • Must be arm’s length (unrelated parties).

A lease alone is not sufficient evidence that a parcel is in commercial agricultural use. A copy of the tenant’s IRS Form 1040F or equivalent from the most recent year’s federal tax return must be submitted with the application. If you lease your property to a tax-exempt organization, a copy of their 501(c)(3) status must be submitted with the application.

  • All information submitted will be held in strict confidence, as mandated by Florida Statute 195.027.
  • All applications are field checked to verify the usage and to ensure correct assessments.
  • If the agricultural classification is approved, you will receive an agricultural classification renewal receipt no later than January 31st of each year. Please read this receipt carefully, as it is effectively your application for that year. Agricultural classification is not automatically renewed. The application can still be denied if the operation does not continue to meet the proper criteria.
  • Additional information will be requested on a regular basis from the property owner to determine the continuance of eligibility. This information is usually in the form of IRS Form 1040F or equivalent from the most recent year’s federal tax return.
  • If equipment or machinery is being used for the commercial agricultural use, a Tangible Personal Property Tax Return ( pdfForm DR-405) must be submitted with the application.
What if my application is approved?

Only the acreage that is actually used for the agricultural operation can be classified. The classification does not blanket your entire property. A residence on the property causes a portion of the property (generally one acre) to be excluded from the agricultural classification. This area is assessed at the current market value and is referred to as a home site. Agricultural classification applies to land only. It does not apply to improvements on the land, such as barns and stables. Improvements are assessed at market value.

What if my application is denied?

You will receive a denial letter on or before July 1st. The letter will explain the appeal process.

What happens to the agricultural classification when the property is sold or ownership is changed?

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 pdfForm 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. Failure to provide this information could result in incorrect assessment of your property or the loss of agricultural classification. Please note that it is unlawful to give false information for the purpose of continuing the agricultural classification of lands.

What happens when I stop using my land for commercial agriculture?

Warning! The agricultural classification is removed and the land value, which has been assessed at a low agricultural use value, will be reset to the current market value. This reset of value will cause a significant increase in property taxes because agriculturally classified land is not protected by the homestead exemption assessment limitation. You should carefully consider the long term consequences of losing the agricultural classification, especially if the property is part of your homestead.

 

Agricultural Use Guidelines

BEES
  1. Beekeeper must be registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and provide the Martin County Property Appraiser a copy of their registration.
  2. Beekeeper must have all hives inspected annually and provide Martin County Property Appraiser with a copy of inspection certificate.
  3. Beekeeper must have their own, or access to, honey extracting equipment and hive building and repair equipment.
  4. Beekeeper must provide the Martin County Property Appraiser with a copy of their federal IRS form 1040F or 1040C or other approved document showing business activity in beekeeping.
  5. Land classified as agricultural for beeyards 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. Beeyards would have 25 hives or colonies per acre. A hive being a receptacle that houses a colony of bees or localized population of bees.
  6. Leased land can be granted when the following conditions are met. (a) The applicant provides the Martin County Property Appraiser a copy of a bona fide lease, (b) a copy of the beekeepers registration, (c) a copy of the current year's inspection certificate from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for all hives located on the property of the applicant, (d) location of the beekeepers extraction and hive repair facilities.
CITRUS
  • Trees must be planted prior to January 1st, or at minimum, the land must be prepared for citrus planting.
  • Agricultural values for citrus are based on type of fruit and effective age of grove.
  • Proper care and management of the grove must be evident (i.e. fertilizing, herbiciding, mowing, and tree maintenance), and records must be provided upon request. This data will be compared to typical operations.
  • If trees are mature, an attempt to make a profit must be evident on an annual basis.
NURSERIES
  • Types of Nurseries:
    • In Ground (ornamentals and woody ornamentals)
    • Above Ground (in pots)
    • Flower Farm (flowers only)
  • 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.
  • Proper care and management of the nursery must be evident (i.e. fertilizing, herbiciding, mowing, and tree maintenance), and records must be provided upon request. This data will be compared to typical operations.
  • If in ground plants are mature, an attempt to make a profit must be evident on an annual basis.
  • Land used for landscape service business is not an agricultural use.
PASTURE
  • Proper care and management of the land must be evident (i.e. fencing, fertilizing, liming, clearing and burning), and records must be provided upon request.
  • Production and sale of livestock must be present.
  • The presence of livestock alone is not sufficient evidence that a parcel is in commercial agricultural use. We will consider the terms of the lease, the bona fide commercial nature of the owner and/or the tenant, and the relationship of the business plan to a specific parcel. This data will be compared to typical operations.
  • Production or ownership of livestock for personal use does not qualify.
ROW CROPS AND SUGARCANE
  • Proper care and management of the farm must be evident (i.e. crop rotation, leveling and proper drainage), and records must be provided upon request. This data will be compared to typical operations.
  • Production of crops for personal use does not qualify.
STABLES
  • 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 a Local Business Tax Receipt from the Martin County Tax Collector (formerly known as occupational license) for horse boarding. About local business tax.
  • The presence of horses alone is not sufficient evidence that a parcel is in commercial agricultural use. We will consider the terms of the boarding agreements, the bona fide commercial nature of the owner and/or the tenant, and the relationship of the business plan to a specific parcel. This data will be compared to typical operations.
  • For horse breeding, requirements include a breeding plan, as well as IRS Form 1040F or equivalent showing that the horses are in fact being bred and sold.
  • Pleasure horses do not qualify.
MISCELLANEOUS AGRICULTURE
  • Other uses such as specialty crops, timber, hay, swine, poultry and aquaculture will be handled on a case by case basis.

 

While specific, these are only guidelines. The granting of all or part of an application for agricultural classification is made only after all relevant information on the parcel has been analyzed by the Property Appraiser.

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