Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 31
Agricultural exemption (qualified lands requirements) (woodland) - Agriculture and Markets Law, § 301:
Certain contiguous acreage, used in conjunction with an ongoing commercial agricultural venture, actively utilized for the production of woodland products or as agricultural support land for the prior two years immediately preceding the filing of an application, may be eligible for an agricultural value assessment.
We have been requested for an opinion as to whether four acres of adjacent wooded land, recently acquired by an owner of agricultural land eligible for an agricultural value assessment in its own right (see, Agriculture and Markets Law, Article 25AA), may also be eligible for such assessment. The owner has indicated that he believes the category of “Other Farmland” used in previous years by the State Board in determining agricultural values per acre would be applicable.
The former category of “Other Farmland” was applicable to lands devoted to the support of productive agricultural lands where those land were completely integrated with the productive lands. Woodlands as such were not eligible (see, 4 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 80).
The “Other Farmland” category had been subject to varying interpretations by some assessors. Further, a recent amendment to Article 25AA (L.1978, c.241) made a review of this matter imperative. Pursuant to the aforementioned amendment, certain lands used to produce “woodland products” may now be eligible for agricultural value assessments. The amendment includes “woodland products” within the definition of agricultural production and provides that up to $2,000 in sales of such products may apply in satisfying the $10,000 gross sales requirement for real property tax exemption eligibility (Agriculture and Markets Law, §301). Woodland products are now defined by statute to include logs, lumber, posts, firewood and maple syrup.
To implement the provisions of the amendment, it is necessary to provide separate agricultural values per acre for a new farmland type known as “woodland” (see, 9 NYCRR 194.1(1) and 194.2(a)(5)). The definition of “woodland” is land actively used for the production of woodland products where such land is part of and contiguous with land used in agricultural production, exclusive of the production of woodland products. A further qualification is that woodland which may be eligible for an agricultural value ceiling may not I exceed the total acreage of the qualified farmland. In determining agricultural values per acre, the woodland type is subdivided into forest types, which are to be further subdivided by productivity classification.
The “Other Farmland” category has been eliminated. A new category, “Agricultural Support Land,” has been added and defined (9 NYCRR 194.2(b)(l)) as land which is not being used to actually produce an agricultural product, but which is being used in direct support of productive agricultural land (examples being ponds used for irrigation, swamps used for drainage, land use for erosion control, hedgerows, access roads and land under farm buildings). Idle or vacant land which is not in direct support of productive agricultural land is not included within farmland types for which agricultural values per care are determined.
An owner of recently acquired land may seek an agricultural value assessment in the year following acquisition, whether the new land is to be used as a separate agricultural venture or in conjunction with his ongoing venture, provided that the newly acquired land has been used in commercial agricultural production for the preceding two years. Whether newly acquired wooded acreage may be considered eligible for an agricultural value assessment depends on whether the acreage may be categorized as either woodland or agricultural support land pursuant to the foregoing criteria. In addition, of course, there must be an initial affirmative determination that the acreage has been actively used for the production of woodland products or as agricultural support land for the prior two years immediately preceding the filing of an application.
February 23, 1979