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WFBF: Farmland Assessment Values to Fall in 2010
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/12/2010

Farmland owners will notice declines in their assessed values between 1.5 and 2 percent during the coming year. That's according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, which released the numbers in a report this week. It's welcomed news to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, which is a supporter of the way farmland is taxed in the state.

"Given the depressed farm economy and housing market, this decrease in assessed value was actually expected," said WFBF President Bill Bruins. "This is good news because at a time when our state's farm economy is facing some tough sledding, it's vital that property taxes remain in check."

However, given that mill rates are expected to go up in many municipalities, Bruins says decreased assessed values will not automatically result in lower tax bills.

"What remains very clear is the importance of our state's use value assessment of farmland law," he noted. "This law, which has resulted in annual savings of over $400 million in property taxes to farmers, was threatened during last year's state budget deliberations. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau remains vigilant that farmers must not take for granted that we now have fairness in the way farmland assessments are determined."

Use-value is a decade-old program that taxes farmland based on its agricultural use, rather than it's development value. Farm groups have always claimed that the policy is also a good way to keep farmland in production rather than being sold off to recreational or developmental pressure.

The Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service says 23,969 acres of farmland were diverted to other uses in 2006. In 1993, that number was nearly 91,000 acres.

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