By Trisha Penabade
We have all heard the term “Greenbelt” but what does that mean?
It is an agriculture classification for property’s primarily used for “Bona Fide” agricultural purposes. The greenbelt classification is a benefit that provides a lower assessment to farmers in order that they may continue to commercial farm their land.
There are many properties uses that qualify, here are a few:
- Pastureland must be used for commercial cattle operations. There is no minimum requirement; however, the parcel must be a commercial operation or part of a larger commercial agricultural operation.
- Horse Farms there are two types of commercial horse farm operations qualify for greenbelt classification in Hillsborough County; they are breeding operation or boarding operations. Breeding operations requires record of sales, purchases, stud fees, registration papers, etc. Boarding operations requires boarding contracts, income, and expense records. Pleasure horses do not qualify.
- Cropland is used in reference to those agricultural products referred to as vegetables. Management practices which are typical for the industry are expected to be followed. Hillsborough County does not have a minimum size guideline but there must be a viable commercial operation on the property with the expectation of a profit.
- Nurseries should have a certificate of inspection issued by the Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry.
- Citrus trees must be set or in process by January 1st to qualify. Proper care and management must be evident. A producing grove must be harvested and have an expectation of a profit.
- Strawberries and Blueberry farms are to follow management practices which are typical for the industry are expected to be followed. Most blueberry farms in this area range from one to five acres in size.
- Sod and hay fields should be managed and cared for in a manner that maximize production and profits,
- Timber requires a forestry management plan for the parcel should be obtained from a qualified forester. Proper timber management should include proper setting, periodic thinning, weed control and fire line perimeters, etc.
Applications must be submitted to the Property Appraisers Office no later than March 1st for the year being applied for, but the operation needs to be in effect as of January 1st for that year.
Any type of ownership change will require a new greenbelt application for the following year. Leased property can qualify but the lessee must be willing and able to provide verification of commercial operation. For more information or to apply for greenbelt in Hillsborough County please visit the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s website www.hcpafl.org.