We support the creation and effective implementation of both temporary and permanent farmland protection tools to stabilize the land base, help maintain the agricultural industry's competitive position, and aggressively increase its economic value to producers and the state. A successful approach to farmland protection will require a combination of strong state leadership and local community support.
We believe an investment in farmland protection is an investment in the future of agriculture and the next generation of Michigan farmers and citizens.
A Strategic Approach
Farmland protection initiatives should strengthen the agricultural industry and maintain producer flexibility and control.
- A voluntary, coordinated, and incentive-driven approach at the state and local levels that protects large blocks of farmland and increases the opportunity for economically viable agriculture.
- Reviewing the local revenue-sharing formula and investigating the merits of linking revenue-sharing to effective farmland preservation and urban redevelopment.
Funding Farmland Protection
We support Michigan Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureaus to continue working with partners to develop innovative farmland protection funding approaches at the state and local level, including tax relief based on parcel size and duration of ownership and the linking of urban development tax credits with greenfield preservation, in addition to established concepts including conversion fees, millage proposals, tax credits, and recapture penalties.
- The Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (commonly known as PA 116) as an effective voluntary method of protecting farmland while giving farmers needed tax relief.
- Refraining from future changes to existing contracts that risk eroding the integrity of the program.
- Local units of government zoning land under PA 116 contracts as agriculture and identifying it as agriculture in their master plan.
- All PA 116 tax credit recapture revenue being deposited into the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Agricultural Preservation Fund.
- Continued and aggressive use of PA 116 by creating additional incentives to maintain and increase participation.
- Additional funding and staffing of MDARD and the Michigan Department of Treasury to administer PA 116 and process refunds in a timely manner.
- MDARD and the Michigan Department of Treasury developing better communication to resolve issues with PA 116 tax returns.
- Requiring the State to pay penalties for late issuance of PA 116 refunds to landowners.
- Protection and exemption from special assessments excluding agricultural drainage.
Agricultural Preservation Fund
- Aggressive funding of the Agricultural Preservation Fund. Funding opportunities can include but should not be limited to bond issues, conversion fees, property transfer fees, the lease of mineral rights from state-owned land, and general appropriations.
- Clarification of the “conflict of interest” policy for grants, including language such as “If an applicant has a conflict of interest, they shall abstain from participating if and when their application comes before the public body upon which they serve.”
- The landowner option of spreading the Development Rights payments over a period of years.
Agricultural Security Areas
- Legislation establishing voluntary Agricultural Security Areas to place temporary, long-term agricultural conservation easements on farmland.
- The improvement of cities, greater utilization of current infrastructure, and redevelopment of existing brownfields to reduce pressure to develop farmland.
Transfer of Development Rights
- Transfer of development rights to facilitate the voluntary preservation of farmland where needed while allowing land development in appropriate areas without using public funds.