Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program
A Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program (VMFSP) enables a municipality to lower property taxes (beyond “current use”) on participating farms in exchange for a temporary easement on farmland. The intention is to provide a mechanism for municipalities to voluntarily protect and support local farms, preserve farmland and reduce the potential tax burdens from new development by allowing them to enter into farm support arrangements with the owners of qualified farmland.
Before establishing a VMFSP, the municipality must establish eligibility requirements for farmland and farm buildings to qualify for its Program, establish a model agricultural conservation term easement, and determine the mechanism for making farm support arrangements and farm support payments.
A farm support application must be approved by majority vote of the municipality’s legislative body. Unless approved by a 2/3 vote of the municipality’s legislative body, the municipality may not enter into farm support arrangements:
- Affecting more than 3% of the total annual valuation of taxable land in the municipality; and
- In any calendar year, affecting more than 1% of the total annual valuation of taxable land in the municipality
Once the program is set up, farmland owners who are formally accepted by a town’s legislative body, may then grant a 20-year agricultural conservation easement to the town in exchange for full or partial reimbursement of property taxes on their farmland and farm buildings during that 20 year period, provided these payments do not exceed the total fair market value of the easement.