Olseen on Green Acres

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 7:11 am

State Sen. Rick Olseen, DFL-Harris, Wednesday convened an informational meeting on the recent changes made to the Green Acres program. An Office of the Legislative Auditor review of agricultural land valuation and Green Acres found that there were several inconsistencies and inappropriate uses of the program throughout the state.

The Legislature, in turn, made changes to the program that were intended to clarify the application process, increase uniform implementation across the state, and ensure that only actively productive agricultural land was eligible for the Green Acres tax benefits. However, it has become clear that this change in law has created unintended negative consequences as well.

“In my district alone, thousands of landowners have been
contacted due to changes in their properties under the new Green Acres
law,” explained Sen. Olseen. “I believe it was prudent to gather
the interested parties together, discuss the impact of these changes,
and explore options to fix this new law.”
At the meeting, senators, Department of Revenue and Agriculture
officials, local government and agricultural advocacy groups, and
concerned citizens began a dialogue on what revisions to the law need to
be considered to ensure that the program fulfills its intended purpose:
preserving farmland.

Confusion about the law changes have primarily centered on the classification of productive and non-productive land and the change in payback provisions if a person chooses to withdraw from the program. Local government and agricultural groups were also concerned that the preservation of open space could be hampered if a large number of landowners withdraw from the Green Acres program.

Authorities implementing the law also expressed that the relatively
short timeline for decisions to be made about the future of the land and
the inability for inter-generational property transfers have caused
difficulties for taxpayers enrolled in the program.

“We started some good work today,” said Sen. Olseen. “Hearing about the concerns and issues facing those charged with overseeing the program and those most affected by its changes will be valuable when determining how to move forward in the 2009 session.”

For more information, contact Sen. Olseen’s office at 651-296-5419 or
sen.rick.olseen@senate.mn.

(From Office of Sen Rick Olseen)

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