Wisconsin surveys interest in farmland preservation

March 31, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin department is surveying 3,000 landowners in 15 counties to gauge their thoughts on the state’s Farmland Preservation Program as enrollment declines.

The program gives farmers a range of tax break options for preserving land for future agricultural use and protecting it from development.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the number of claims has dropped by nearly 25 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to Alison Volk, the land management section chief for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Landowners are claiming tax breaks on less than half of the approximately 5.5 million acres that are eligible, she said.

About 13,000 people claimed about $18 million in tax credits through the program in 2015. But less than 12,000 received $16.6 million in tax credits in 2016.

“We’re trying to get a better sense of what’s happening, how landowners view the program,” Volk said.

The survey is the first widespread assessment of the program since 2009, she said.

Some landowners may have stopped claiming the tax credit after the state instituted a nutrient management plan requirement, said Barron County Conservation Planner Justin Everson. The plans mean more work and costs for some farmers, he said.

“When you’re looking at a tax credit, they weigh that all toward the price of compliance,” he said. “It’s worth it for some. It’s not worth it for others.”

Nutrient management plans determine the amount, timing and application of nutrients on land. Starting in 2010, landowners were required to have a plan and were given a five-year window to comply with the changes.

Landowners now must also obtain a certificate of compliance from counties to prove that they’re eligible to receive the tax credit, Everson said.


Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

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