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Farmland Preservation Program

Wisconsin’s Farmland Preservation Act was signed into law on June 29, 1977, for the purpose of helping local governments preserve farmland, and to provide tax relief to farmers who participate in local farmland preservation plans. In Shawano County, the program is a combination of state tax credits, county planning and zoning, and local town planning. It is a complicated approach to farmland preservation that retains the tradition of local control over land use and zoning, while providing financial incentives to farmers, and planning assistance to local governments.

The farmland preservation program gives farmers who participate in the farmland preservation program a state income tax credit, based on household income, to off-set local property taxes. The law provides two ways that farmers can qualify for the tax credit: 1) the land is in a town that has exclusive agricultural zoning, or 2) the land is covered by a farmland preservation agreement signed by the owner. In either case the county must have adopted an agricultural preservation plan.

In addition to being in an exclusive agricultural zone, the land must be at least 35 acres in size, the owner must be a Wisconsin resident, and the land must have produced at least $6,000 in gross farm profits in the last year, or $18,000 in the last three years. Farming operations must also comply with county soil and water conservation standards. The income requirement is waived if at least 35 acres of the land is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

The amount of tax credit a farmer receives varies, depending on the household income and the amount of real estate taxes paid on the farmland. Household income includes net farm income, and income from other sources. Farm partnerships or corporations are treated the same as any other household. The actual tax credit allowed is calculated by a very detailed formula. Property taxes up to $6,000 are eligible for the credit, with the maximum credit $4,200. The higher the property tax, and the lower the income, the higher the tax credit. Because Shawano County has both a farmland preservation plan and exclusive agricultural zoning, eligible farmers in towns that also have exclusive agricultural zoning can receive 100 percent of the potential tax credit. Farmers in an exclusive agricultural zone are guaranteed a minimum tax credit of ten percent on property taxes up to $6,000, regardless of their household income.

The Shawano County Land Conservation Division assists farmers in developing soil conservation plans for land enrolled in the program and checks for compliance with the Soil Conservation Standard. The UW Extension office has information on program rules, benefits and enrollment.

Contact:  Scott Frank - County Conservationist
Phone: 715-526-6766
Fax: 715-526-6273
Click here to email
Address:  311 N. Main St
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311 N. Main St., Shawano, WI 54166-8724 • (715) 526-9135
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