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Volume 10 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 41

Opinions of Counsel index

Agricultural exemption (agricultural production requirement) (commercial horse boarding) - Agriculture and Markets Law, § 301; Real Property Tax Law, § 481:

Upon approval of a county legislative body, land used to support a commercial horse boarding operation may be eligible for an agricultural assessment. [3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 110 superseded in part]

We have been asked to reexamine 3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 110 in which we concluded that moneys derived from racing purses, farm stock dividends, or boarding fees could not be used to qualify land for an agricultural assessment pursuant to Agriculture and Markets Law, section 305. The opinion interpreted Article 25-AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law as it existed on June 11, 1974, the date the opinion was written. Subsequent revisions to the statute have effectively superseded a portion of the conclusion reached in that opinion.

Agriculture and Markets Law, section 305, provides that “land used in agricultural production” is eligible for an agricultural assessment. The term “land used in agricultural production” is defined in subdivision 4 of section 301 of the Agriculture and Markets Law. In 1994, the State Legislature amended the definition of “land used in agricultural production” to include land of not less than ten acres used in the preceding two years to support a commercial horse boarding operation with annual gross receipts of ten thousand dollars or more (L.1994, c.556).

Adding this category of land to the definition of “land used in agricultural production” means, of course, that such land is now eligible for an agricultural assessment. The expansion of the definition, however, is subject to the approval of the individual county legislative body. Unless a particular county legislative body affirmatively states its approval, land within the county used to support a commercial horse boarding operation will not be eligible for an agricultural assessment.

In addition to revising the definition of “land used in agricultural production” set forth in subdivision 4 of section 301, the 1994 legislation added a new subdivision 13 to section 301 to provide a definition for the term “commercial horse boarding operation.” That subdivision (after its further amendment by L.1995, c.495) now reads as follows:

“Commercial horse boarding operation” means an agricultural enterprise, consisting of at least ten acres and boarding at least ten horses, regardless of ownership, that receives ten thousand dollars or more in gross receipts annually from fees generated either through the boarding of horses or through the production for sale of crops, livestock, and livestock products, or through both such boarding and such production. Under no circumstances shall this subdivision be construed to include operations whose primary on site function is horse racing.

Where authorized, then, land used to support a commercial horse boarding operation is now eligible for an agricultural assessment. A commercial horse boarding operation is an enterprise whose income derives, at least in part, from fees for the boarding of horses. Consequently, if land used to support commercial horse boarding is determined to be eligible for an agricultural assessment, its eligibility may be based, in part, upon moneys received as boarding fees, notwithstanding the conclusion of 3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 110 that boarding fees are not eligible “products” for purposes of determining eligibility for an agricultural assessment. That conclusion is now superseded as a result of the statutory change.

January 29, 1996

NOTE:  Modified in part by Opinion 11-74.

Updated: