Greenbelt Agricultural Notification

Greenbelt Agricultural Classification filing period:   January 1 – March 1

If you are the owner of Agricultural Property which did not receive a Greenbelt Agricultural Classification under your ownership in 2013, and you wish to apply for this Classification for the privileged lower property tax assessment in 2014, you must file an application between January 1 and March 1 with the Property Appraiser in the county where the property is located.  The form number is DR-482,  Application and Return for Agricultural Classification of Lands, and is available from the County Property Appraiser or online either from the Department of Revenue or the County Property Appraiser’s Office.  Note: some property appraisers may use a substitute form.

If you already receive a Greenbelt Agricultural Classification on your property and wish to continue the Classification in 2014, you will receive one of two forms from the County Property Appraiser.  If the County requires annual renewal of the Classification, you will receive a green card, DR-499, Agricultural Classification of Lands Renewal.  You must sign and return the DR-499 card between January 1 and March 1.  If your County does not require an annual renewal of the Classification, you will receive a different green card, DR-499AR, Removal of Agricultural Classification.  Regardless of the form name, this is your automatic renewal card; you do nothing with it unless your property is no longer qualified for the Classification.



Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

Don’t make these common mistakes:  they could cost you plenty!

If you are under the impression, or were told, a Greenbelt Agricultural Classification held by the previous owner transfers with an exchange of ownership, it does not!  You must file a new application.

The absolute filing deadline is March 1.  The law does allow for extenuating circumstances; however, failure to make timely application, unawareness of the need to apply, and “lost in the mail” are usually not acceptable as extenuating circumstances.

Get a receipt copy (stamped received) of your DR-482 application.  Get a receipt for the DR-499 card; it is another green card:  DR-499R.

A Greenbelt Agricultural Classification is an extremely valuable document to place in the mail:  File the DR-482 and 499 in person, if possible, or, at least make sure you receive a receipt from the Property Appraiser prior to the filing deadline. 

Do not sign and return the DR-499AR card unless your property is no longer qualified for the Greenbelt Agricultural Classification.  You will be removing the Classification if you sign and return the card.

Notice of Denial

Notice of Denial…!  Application disapproved…!

Agricultural Classification/Greenbelt application disapproved

It’s that time again.

We can help!

All denials of Agricultural Classification/Greenbelt applications and renewals must be mailed by the county property appraiser no later than July 1.  The denial of all or part of the acreage in an original application (form DR-482) will be recorded on the bottom of the form, action 2 or 3.  DR-490, Notice of Disapproval of Application for Property Tax Exemption or Classification by the County Property Appraiser, will be used as the denial notice for Greenbelt renewals.

What do you do now?  You must make an action decision no later than 30 days from the postmark date on the denial notice.  Some property appraisers mail out denial notices prior to July 1; i.e., your timeframe for action may be prior to the end of July or may have already expired.  If after receiving the denial notice, you are unable to convince the property appraiser your property is qualified for Greenbelt, and want to appeal the denial, you must file a petition (DR-486) to the Value Adjustment Board by the 30th day following the postmark date.  The Value Adjustment Board will determine hearing dates later; and, you will be notified.  If you are unsure you want to appeal to the Board, you must file the petition in order to reserve your right to appeal.

You have several options for addressing the denial.

The property must be used primarily for commercial agricultural purposes to qualify for Greenbelt.  If the property is not qualified and no changes in current use are planned, you may simply accept the denial.

You may accept the denial for the current year and file again next year when your actions, activities, and use increase and the property will more likely comply with the requirements.  We can assist you with qualifying your property for Greenbeltclassification.

You may appeal the current denial to the Value Adjustment Board.  Contact us for assistance with your appeal.

Forest Management Plans and Federal Cost Share

Forest Management Plans and Federal Cost-Share/Stimulus Programs (12/14/09)

If you have not obtained a forest management plan for your timberland, here’s one more reason to get one.  Cost-share programs use a prioritization formula; and, a management plan will provide a landowner more points in the formula and a greater likelihood of receiving the funds.

Cost-share funds are available for many forestry practices such as fireline establishment, burning, planting, site preparation, vegetation control, and others.  Cost-share funds, potentially, could more than offset the cost of the management plan.

Timber Harvesting Restrictions

Timber Harvesting Restrictions: Small Tracts w/o Agricultural Classification (12/14/09)

Do you have a small tract of timberland, i.e., 5-20 acres, not under Agricultural Classification?  Are you planning to harvest timber at some time?  Have you declined filing for an Agricultural Classification because you were under the impression it would not qualify or because you did not have a management plan or want to invest in one?  If you plan to harvest timber at some time for income, pay taxes, etc, we strongly recommend you apply for the Agricultural Classification, get a management plan, and get the property qualified for the Agricultural Classification if it is not currently qualified.

Some Florida counties have implemented local environmental rules, regulations, or restrictions on harvesting timber on properties which do not have an Agricultural Classification.  Properties with Agricultural Classification are usually exempt from the restrictions, at least to a large degree.  We expect to see more counties adopting this course, although the County Property Appraisers have nothing to do with the regulations.  If you do not have an Agricultural Classification, especially on small parcels, you may not be allowed to harvest timber or may have to jump through several expensive hoops:  get permits, hire an attorney, hire consultants, deal with stonewalling, etc.

We recently had a client with less than 20 acres of unmanaged timberland with a very marginal stand.  The property is located near an urban area, but not inside city limits.  The property once had an Agricultural Classification, but lost it fifteen years ago through failure to renew following inheritance.  The owners wanted to harvest some of the timber to pay property taxes.  After going through six county employees, three county agencies, and spending three hours on the phone, we finally got an e-mail response from the county’s environmental regulations division.  First, we would need an Environmental Management Permit (exemption permit—that part we knew.)  We were also advised a Low Impact Environmental Management Permit might be required.  Additionally, an unaltered natural state perimeter buffer is required.  The property is rolling uplands, contained no wet areas, wetlands vegetation, sinkholes, or ponds, but did contain a lower area at the bottom of a hill with a house nearby.  We were told this was a possible sinkhole, according to their GIS.  If it is a sinkhole, a vegetative management plan is required for protection.  If it is not a sinkhole, a geotechnical study (engineer) is required to make the determination it is not a sinkhole.  We advised the landowner the cost of the permits, the study or plan, possibly an attorney, and the consulting fees would likely be greater than the income from a harvest.  We advised the landowner to implement some management recommendations and apply for an Agricultural Classification.


Landowners and Investors: Forest Management…Timely Advice

Landowners and Investors:  Forest Management Plans—Some Timely Advice (10/11/09)

Do you own timberland in a county which requires a forest management plan?  Do you need a forest management plan to acquire Greenbelt/Agricultural Classification on your timberland in 2010?  You should be aware of the following:

1. Some County Property Appraisers may require a forest management plan written prior to January 1.

2. Some County Property Appraisers may require a forest management plan be submitted no later than the March 1 deadline for filing an application for Agricultural Classification.

Now is a good time to schedule management plan preparation.  If you delay until near the end of the year or mid-winter/early spring, finding an available forester to prepare the management plan may be difficult, since we typically are very busy at that time of the year with burning and planting.  If you miss the deadline for submission of your management plan, you may miss your opportunity to acquire an agricultural classification and the resulting lower tax liability until 2011.  Contact us now to schedule a field inspection and preparation of a management plan.  Many counties will accept the Agricultural Classification application prior to January 1.

Investing in a Management Plan

Investing in a Management Plan (10/11/09)

We are frequently asked “What is a management plan?”  And “What does it cost?”

Many are prepared, obviously, as a requirement for an approval of an Agricultural Classification application.  A management plan, however, is also prepared as a tool for a landowner to reach his/her ownership objectives, setting priorities for management options and short- and/or long-term activities.  Management plans are flexible, should be reviewed every two to five years, and modified, if necessary, for changes in owner objectives, timber markets, property conditions, etc.

Management plan components should include most, if not all, of the following:

1.              The owner’s objectives

2.              Tax identification data, property location, and acquisition information

3.              General property description and access data

4.              Soils information and soil maps, including technical information

5.              Previous and current owners’ forest management activities

6.              Detailed description by stand and utilization

7.              Management recommendations and schedule of forest practice activities

8.              Aerial photos, maps, stand maps, etc.

The plan may also include a variety of additional information, such as productivity, yield, and timber volume and value data, depending on whether a cruise (inventory) was requested or required.

A management plan is a sound investment for your timberland.  It is also a smart investment in relation to your savings on ad valorem taxes.  An approved application for Agricultural Classification may result in as much as a 90% decrease in the tax bill on your land.  When a forester quotes you a fee for preparation of a management plan, consider the fee in comparison to the savings on the tax bill for about the next five years…it’s a good investment indeed!  Aforester will need several hours of both field and office time to prepare a full professional narrative plan, depending on tract size, number of timber stands, condition, etc.

We prepare professional narrative forest management plans; contact us now to schedule a field inspection and preparation of your management plan.

A Note for County Property Appraisers

A Note for County Property Appraisers (10/11/09)

We can assist you with gathering/discovery of agricultural appraisal data for determination of agricultural land values:  capitalization rates, rents, stumpage rates, forest management costs, site preparation and pine plantation establishment costs, and other cost, price, and yield components of the appraisal process.

We do not, however, gather specific data from or for your county unless we have been engaged to do so.  If you are interested in assistance with your agricultural rates, please contact us prior to January 1, if possible, in order for us to have sufficient time to obtain the raw data, prepare and mail surveys, and analyze the results.

We can assist with appraisal methodology, fieldwork, review, recommendations, etc. at any time.