Two bills that modify chapter 61A that would provide short term tax relief to farmers when repairing or constructing a broad array of structures and buildings on farmland are being considered by the Joint Committee on Revenue.
Chapter 61A involves a yearly application process to reduce property taxes of active farmland in exchange for giving a town the right of first refusal to buy the farmland if it is sold for nonagricultural purposes.
One bill, S1786, sponsored by Senator Tarr, would exempt structures and buildings essential to the operation of lands from property taxes for five years following construction or renovation. S1792, sponsored by Senator Tran, would do the same but for ten years.
Both bills require the farmer to apply for the exemption and for the municipality’s assessors to approve the application, as with 61A land.
These bills are in line with the Plan’s Land action item 1.1.1: “Enact legislation that provides a tax credit for agricultural buildings, exempting new or reconstructed agricultural buildings essential to a farm operation from local property taxes for a period of ten years, provided the building remains in agricultural use.”
The Collaborative has submitted testimony supporting both bills, with preference for S1792’s allowance for tax relief for ten years, as recommended by the Plan.
We urge farmers and support organizations to express their support for these bills to the Committee chairs, Hinds and Cusack. Explain how the change will help farmers invest in staying in farming, increase local economic activity, and increase the local tax base for years to come. Senator Adam Hinds: 617-722-1625, and Representative Mark Cusack: 617-722-2320.
3rd Annual MA Food System Forum