senate Bill S6778

Relates to viable agricultural land and renewal of agricultural assessments

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 21 / Mar / 2012
    • REFERRED TO AGRICULTURE
  • 05 / Jun / 2012
    • 1ST REPORT CAL.1024
  • 06 / Jun / 2012
    • 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • 11 / Jun / 2012
    • ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • 20 / Jun / 2012
    • SUBSTITUTED BY A9960

Summary

Relates to viable agricultural land and renewal of agricultural assessments.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A9960
Versions:
S6778
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Law Section:
Agriculture and Markets Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §§301 & 305, Ag & Mkts L

Votes

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10
Aye
0
Nay
0
aye with reservations
0
absent
0
excused
0
abstained
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Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S6778

TITLE OF BILL:

An act
to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to viable
agricultural land and renewal of agricultural assessments

PURPOSE OF THE BILL:

The bill would improve the administration of the Agricultural
Districts Law (Article 25-AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law).

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 of the bill would amend Agricultural and Markets Law
("AML") § 301 (7) to revise the definition of "viable agricultural
land" for purposes of the Agricultural Districts Law by defining the
term as land highly suitable for "a farm operation", a term already
defined in law.

Section 2 of the bill would amend AML § 305(1)(a) to streamline the
process of renewing agricultural assessments, provided there are no
changes in farmland eligibility or acreage.

Section 3 of the bill provides for an immediate effective date.

EXISTING LAW:

AML § 301(7) defines "viable agricultural land" as "... land highly
suitable for agricultural production and which will continue to be
economically feasible for such use if real property taxes, farm use
restrictions, and speculative activities are limited to levels
approximating those in commercial agricultural areas not influenced
by the proximity of nonagricultural development." AML § 305(1)(a)
provides that any owner of land used in agricultural production
meeting minimum acreage and sales thresholds shall be eligible for an
agricultural assessment upon an annual application to the assessor.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

This is a new proposal.

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT:

The bill would amend the definition of "viable agricultural land,"
which is used both as a standard for adding land to an agricultural
district and as the benchmark used by the
Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to certify an agricultural
district under AML §§303 and 303-a. Localities have had difficulty in
interpreting and applying the current definition.

Additionally, many county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Boards
-- which are responsible pursuant to AML §303-b for recommending
whether or not land should be added to an agricultural district --
have requested that the definition be clarified. In particular, many
have had difficulty interpreting the terms "land highly suitable for
agricultural production" or determining whether, as required under
the definition, such land would "continue to be economically feasible
for such use if real property taxes, farm use restrictions, and
speculative activities are limited to levels approximating those in
commercial agricultural areas not influenced by the proximity of
non-agricultural development."

To address this issue, the bill would conform AML § 301(7) to the
definition of "farm operation," which is defined in AML §305-a by
tying the applicable land, buildings, and equipment to specific farm
practices, eg, practices which contribute to the production,
preparation and marketing of crops, livestock and livestock products,
timber operation, commercial horse boarding operation, and manure
processing and handling facilities. The new definition would provide
a more workable standard for examining parcels for inclusion in an
agricultural district.

The bill would also streamline the process to recertify agricultural
assessments.
Agricultural assessment was established as part of the Agricultural
Districts Law to allow land used for farming to be assessed for real
property tax purposes based on its agricultural value as opposed to
its development value. By helping to relieve the property tax burden
on farmers, agricultural assessment is a key tool in meeting the
purposes of the law to protect and enhance the State's agricultural
land as a viable segment of the local and State economies and as an
economic and environmental resource of major importance.

This bill would permit farm landowners to file a simpler, more
streamlined application to receive an agricultural assessment after
the first year's application has been filed and accepted, provided
that the property continues to meet all eligibility requirements and
no changes have been made to the property as listed in the
original application. The bill would thus relieve a burden on both
landowners and assessors, who are otherwise required to file and
review more complex applications for land which has, in many cases,
been farmed for decades. Appropriate safeguards are included by
requiring landowners to retain eligibility records for submission
upon request by the local assessor. If there are any changes in
acreage or ownership of the parcel receiving the assessment, a new
application must be made which reflects those changes.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS AND LOCAL IMPACT:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

The bill would take effect immediately.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  6778

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             March 21, 2012
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. RITCHIE -- (at request of the Department of Agricul-
  ture and Markets) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when  printed
  to be committed to the Committee on Agriculture

AN  ACT  to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to viable
  agricultural land and renewal of agricultural assessments

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Subdivision 7 of section 301 of the agriculture and markets
law,  as  amended by chapter 797 of the laws of 1992, is amended to read
as follows:
  7. "Viable agricultural land" means land highly suitable for [agricul-
tural production and which will continue to be economically feasible for
such use if real property taxes, farm use restrictions, and  speculative
activities are limited to levels approximating those in commercial agri-
cultural  areas  not  influenced  by  the  proximity of non-agricultural
development] A FARM OPERATION AS DEFINED IN THIS SECTION.
  S 2. Paragraph a of subdivision 1 of section 305  of  the  agriculture
and  markets  law,  as amended by chapter 514 of the laws of 2007 and as
further amended by subdivision (d) of section 1 of part W of chapter  56
of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:
  a.  Any  owner of land used in agricultural production within an agri-
cultural district shall  be  eligible  for  an  agricultural  assessment
pursuant  to  this  section. If an applicant rents land from another for
use in conjunction with the applicant's land for the production for sale
of crops, livestock or livestock products, the gross sales value of such
products produced on such rented land shall be added to the gross  sales
value  of  such  products  produced  on  the  land  of the applicant for
purposes of determining eligibility for an  agricultural  assessment  on
the land of the applicant. Such assessment shall be granted only upon an
annual application by the owner of such land on a form prescribed by the
commissioner  of taxation and finance; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT AFTER THE
INITIAL GRANT OF AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT THE ANNUAL APPLICATION SHALL BE
ON A FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF  TAXATION  AND  FINANCE  AND
SHALL CONSIST OF ONLY A CERTIFICATION BY THE LANDOWNER THAT THE LANDOWN-

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD14249-01-2

S. 6778                             2

ER CONTINUES TO MEET THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR RECEIVING AN AGRI-
CULTURAL  ASSESSMENT  AND  SEEKS AN AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT FOR THE SAME
ACREAGE THAT INITIALLY RECEIVED AN AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT. THE LANDOWN-
ER  SHALL  MAINTAIN  RECORDS DOCUMENTING SUCH ELIGIBILITY WHICH SHALL BE
PROVIDED TO THE ASSESSOR UPON REQUEST.  THE  LANDOWNER  MUST  APPLY  FOR
AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT FOR ANY CHANGE IN ACREAGE, WHETHER LAND IS ADDED
OR  REMOVED, AFTER THE INITIAL GRANT OF AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT. ANY NEW
OWNER OF THE LAND WHO WISHES TO RECEIVE AN AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT SHALL
MAKE AN INITIAL APPLICATION FOR SUCH ASSESSMENT. SUCH APPLICATIONS SHALL
BE ON A FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF TAXATION AND FINANCE. The
applicant shall furnish to the assessor such information as the  commis-
sioner  of  taxation and finance shall require, including classification
information prepared for the applicant's land or water  bodies  used  in
agricultural  production  by  the  soil  and water conservation district
office within the county, and information demonstrating the  eligibility
for  agricultural assessment of any land used in conjunction with rented
land as specified in paragraph b of subdivision four  of  section  three
hundred  one  of  this article. Such application shall be filed with the
assessor of the assessing unit on  or  before  the  appropriate  taxable
status date; provided, however, that (i) in the year of a revaluation or
update of assessments, as those terms are defined in section one hundred
two  of the real property tax law, the application may be filed with the
assessor no later than the thirtieth day prior to the day by  which  the
tentative  assessment  roll  is  required to be filed by law; or (ii) an
application for such an assessment may be filed with the assessor of the
assessing unit after the appropriate taxable status date but  not  later
than  the  last  date  on which a petition with respect to complaints of
assessment may be filed, where failure  to  file  a  timely  application
resulted  from:  (a)  a  death of the applicant's spouse, child, parent,
brother or sister, (b) an illness of the applicant or of the applicant's
spouse, child, parent, brother or sister, which  actually  prevents  the
applicant  from  filing  on  a  timely basis, as certified by a licensed
physician, or (c) the occurrence of a natural disaster,  including,  but
not  limited  to,  a flood, or the destruction of such applicant's resi-
dence, barn or other farm building by wind, fire or flood. If the asses-
sor is satisfied that the  applicant  is  entitled  to  an  agricultural
assessment,  the  assessor  shall  approve  the application and the land
shall be assessed pursuant to this section. Not less than ten days prior
to the date for hearing  complaints  in  relation  to  assessments,  the
assessor  shall mail to each applicant, who has included with the appli-
cation at least one self-addressed, pre-paid envelope, a notice  of  the
approval  or  denial  of the application. Such notice shall be on a form
prescribed by the commissioner of taxation and finance which shall indi-
cate the manner in which the total assessed value is  apportioned  among
the  various portions of the property subject to agricultural assessment
and those other portions of the property not eligible  for  agricultural
assessment  as  determined  for  the  tentative  assessment roll and the
latest final assessment roll. Failure to mail any such notice or failure
of the owner to receive the same shall not prevent the levy,  collection
and enforcement of the payment of the taxes on such real property.
  S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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