Wisconsin’s Use Value Law Preserves Farmland

The amount of farmland converted to other uses continues to stay relatively low thanks to the state’s use value assessment law. The law is responsible for allowing Wisconsin farmers to save millions on the property taxes they pay on farmland.

The number of acres of farmland diverted to other uses is a fraction of what it was in the 1990s according to the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service.

In 2012, just 4,277 acres of farmland (with and without buildings and improvements) were diverted to other uses. This stands in stark contrast to 1993 when 90,971 acres of farmland (with and without buildings and improvements) were sold and diverted to other uses.

That statistic remained over 60,000 acres per year throughout the rest of the 1990s. With full implementation of Wisconsin’s use value assessment law in 2000, the loss of farmland has slowed considerably:

* 44,403 acres in 2004

* 33,808 acres in 2005

* 23,969 acres in 2006

* 15,228 acres in 2007

* 8,666 acres in 2008

* 6,702 acres in 2009

* 4,899 acres in 2010

* 3,764 acres in 2011

* 4,277 acres in 2012

Corn and hay strips“The use value law remains the best tool we have to keep farmland in production rather than being sold off to recreational or developmental pressure,” said Jim Holte, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President. “Wisconsin farm families have seen savings of over $400 million annually and $4 billion in total since the use value assessment law was enacted in 2000.”

“Farmers must not take for granted that we now have fairness in the way farmland assessments are determined,” said Holte, a corn and soybean grower from Dunn County. “For decades farm families suffered as property taxes were shifted to farmland under an antiquated market value system that based assessed values on speculative development. Farm Bureau always maintained that farmers needed assessments based on the realities of farming. Use value’s equitable tax structure helps the viability of Wisconsin’s $59 billion agricultural economy, which is good news for the job market and our state’s overall economy.”

“From a global perspective, the world’s growing population coupled with a limited supply of good farmland underlines the importance of keeping Wisconsin’s rich soils in production agriculture,” Holte said


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