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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 65

Opinions of Counsel index

Farm exemption (raising of cattle for slaughter) (storage of hay and grain) - Real Property Tax Law, § 483:

The raising of cattle for slaughter and the storage of hay and grain are agricultural uses within the meaning of section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law and buildings erected for such purposes would qualify for exemption under such section.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether the raising of cattle for slaughter and the storage of hay and grain are agricultural uses within the meaning of section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law.

In order to qualify for an exemption pursuant to section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law, the following requirements must be satisfied:

(a) The land on which the structure is built must be at least five acres in area;
(b) Such land must be actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use for profit;
(c) Such land must have been actively devoted to such use for two consecutive years prior to the date of application for exemption;
(d) The structure must be essential to the operation of land devoted to such use;
(e) The structure must have been constructed or reconstructed subsequent to
January 1, 1969;
(f) Only that portion of the structure used directly and exclusively for the raising and production for sale of agricultural or horticultural commodities or necessary for the storage thereof is eligible for exemption;
(g) Any portion used for the processing or retail merchandising of such commodities is not eligible for exemption.

Since this is an exemption statute, the statute and the terms therein must be strictly construed. Therefore, it has been our opinion that the word “agricultural” is used in the statute in its narrow sense and means the art or science of cultivating the ground, the raising and harvesting of crops and the feed, breeding and management of livestock or poultry. Thus, agricultural uses obviously include not only the raising of crops such as wheat, corn, etc., but also the operation of a dairy or poultry farm and other traditional farm activities such as the raising of cattle, sheep, etc., for slaughter.

Therefore, the raising of cattle for slaughter and the storage of hay and grain are agricultural uses within the meaning of section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law.

If only a portion of a building meets the requirements of the statute, then that portion is entitled to the exemption unless the activities are so commingled that the portions devoted to agricultural uses and nonagricultural uses cannot be separated, in which case no exemption would be authorized.

April 20, 1972

Updated: