One of our goals for the first year of our farm included obtaining an agricultural exemption through the county in which our farm resides. This is supposed to be a fairly easy task. You fill out a nifty little application, submit it quickly within the proper time frame and wait. And wait. And wait...
The following factors listed below are taken directly from our county’s property appraiser website and are the encompassing factors that you need to share with them in order to receive the exemption, hopefully.
Furthermore, the application asks about your specific agricultural pursuit, and there is a place to list animals or specific plantings. It’s simple and pretty straightforward. We filled out our application in December of last year, making sure it was received early and within the window for acceptance; January – March.
I touched base with the county employee and sadly learned that he had until July to approve or deny our application. He also stated that he may have to drop by one day to take a tour of our farm to be sure that everything on our application was correct and that we were a bona fide farm. This was kind of a letdown, but understandable. On several occasions at the farm, Mark noticed county vehicles driving by. We anxiously awaited the phone call to set up the farm tour for the county. That phone call never came.
By the second week in June we were anxious and stressed over the possibility of not getting this exemption. Why you ask? Having the county agricultural exemptions first and foremost decreases our annual taxes. Having that burden tempered, gives us the opportunity to invest that money into farm pursuits. The exemption also allows us to build small buildings and barns, cut down trees without having to purchase another permit (cost $200), and make other amendments that would need additional, costly permitting. The exemption also provides further protections to us a as a bona fide farm under the Right to Farm Act.
So, with the calendar closing in on July without any information or communication from the county, Mark took time out of one of his busy mornings on the farm to call the county office and get an update on our farm's status. In a nutshell he was told that we would know one way or another via a letter the first week of July. Back into the holding pattern we went and waited some more.
On the morning of June 29th I heard the email ding on my phone from deep inside my desk drawer. I figured it was another ad from one of the many online stores that flood my email inbox each morning, but still checked to be sure. It was an email from the county contact with an attachment, a letter...
We received our exemption!!! With our one year anniversary just around the corner, getting this exemption when we did was the cherry on top!!
While we know we are a bona fide farm, it’s now official. In the eyes of the Federal government we have our USDA farm number. In the eyes of the State of Florida, our mandated herd number. And finally, with our county tax assessor, our agricultural exemption.
Not too shabby for one year in!
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.