Cattle Application Process

How to apply for an Agricultural Classification a.k.a.”tax exemption” for cattle

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Application Directions

Name: The name section is the owner of the property’s name or a representative such as a manager of the business or a tax representative legally that is allowed to represent the interest of the fee simple owner. The tenant does not have the legal right only if they are responsible for the taxes on the lease.

Phone: Include the contact number of the owner or someone that has access to the property on behalf of the owner.

Parcel ID or legal description: I would include the parcel ID. Trying to locate a property by its legal description is incredibly difficult. You can find a 17 digit number a.k.a the PCN by looking your property up on the property appraiser’s website.

Land Used Primarily for Agricultural Purposes Section: If you do not see your specific use in this section, your use would be written in the other box. Circle or simply indicate which use you are applying for by writing in the box to the right the number of acres you’re applying for. The next box to the right is indicates how long you have been active in this particular agricultural use.

The Agricultural Income from this Property: Specify the year and what Ag use such as poultry or cattle. The gross income is how much money in total was made that year. Your expenses are what you had to pay to keep that use going. Your net income is the gross income minus the expenses.

Under the Agricultural Income Section is the Date Purchased and the Purchase Price. The purchase price isn’t as important as the date purchased but it may be helpful to the Appraiser’s Office to know this information.

A Tangible Account is a business account filed with the Property Appraiser. This is a good indication there is a business on the property. It is not a necessity, but you would know if you filed or not. Answer “no” if you do not have a business tax account with the Property Appraiser.

The next question: Is the property leased to others? If there is any lease on the property, including a residential lease or a pasture lease, the answer is “yes”.

Has the property been rezoned to a non-agricultural use at the request of the owner? In other words, if the property was zoned Agricultural/Residential (AR) or just Agricultural, and you as the owner put in a request to the Department of Building and Zoning to change the zoning code to say, commercial, it’s very possible that agricultural use could be an illegal use and disqualify you from acceptance. Again, you would know if you changed the zoning.

There is a small area to file out that indicates the year you are applying for so make sure this is completed.

Sign and date your application. Make a copy of it and when you send it or drop it off, get a receipt of some sort to prove when you applied should there be any issues down the road.

Application deadlines are March 1 in the year of which you are applying (FL Statute 193.461 (3.a). Again, the application can be found here.

Use

Once the application is submitted, you need to prove use is and was on the property on January 1. Try and take photographs of the use as close to January 1st as possible for documentation. Time and date stamp your photos if possible.

The property appraiser will typically give an Agricultural Classification on whatever lands are used. The more land used may result in more Agricultural Classified Lands. If the Ag Classification will save you money (check out the Ag Analysis Calculator) try and apply for all the acres on the property to see what you can get. Why limit your tax savings?

Also, part of using the property for cattle is knowing how many heads of cattle or animal units (AUM) your property will feed/sustain. The property appraiser will not grant an Agricultural Classification on 20+ acres for one cow. Let’s be real. This does not sound like a bona fide operation. The flip side of the coin is if you put too many heads of cattle on one acre, they will not flourish and that means a loss in profit. For a realistic stocking rate per acre, I particularly found this website by the Natural Resource Conservation Service useful.

Here is a simple automatic animal unit calculator to help you figure out how many livestock your pastures will support. You will need to know:

  • amount of acres of pasture,
  • amount of yield/forage per acre, (For techniques to estimate the yield or forage in a pasture go to https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag369)
  • average weight per animal, and
  • an estimate of how many days you plan on keeping the livestock on your property.

Animal Unit Calculator

You can also use this excel file to calculate the average yield/forage per acre, how many livestock your pastures will support, and the amount of forage/yield needed.

Business Proof

The next characteristic needed is that you need to have a bona fide agricultural business. Also, it needs to be stated that the development of business can be developed throughout the year. Example: you can start with a business lease in December and then maybe start an LLC in February. In April you’d file your company income taxes. Send this information as soon as possible, either with the application or as it’s available. If it’s unavailable, let the property appraiser know in writing.

Here are some more tips about the business aspect:

  1. Have a business plan. One can be found here.

2. Websites to help with cattle ranches:

3. To help with grading the cattle: https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/beef

4. Market reports for sale prices can be found below:

5. If you sell any of your livestock privately then at least have a receipt book. They are an inexpensive way to help satisfy the agricultural business aspect to the guidelines. A relatively inexpensive one can be found here.

If you would like to tag your livestock with numbered or blank ear tags then I would reccomend QC Supply. If electronic ear tags are your thing then try the link to the right.

6. Make sure to check out the General Section of the Agricultural Section of the Classified Use Real Property Guidelines of the Manual of Instructions. It has much information on what is considered an animal unit, typical percentages of saleable beef, different types of considered grazing lands and other pertinent information.

For legal documentation look at these websites:  

  • Law Depot (click this affiliate link to receive a 10% discount on online legal forms)
  • Legal Forms

To get several ideas of what to lease the property for read this article: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c2-23.html. The author gives several ideas on the how’s and why’s of pasture leases. I prefer the market approach (how much per acre others are leasing pastures for) if you can get your hands on that information.

Always make sure to claim any profits or losses on your yearly income taxes too. If you are running a business and making money, then you may want to keep track of the earning and spending. The accounting will be easier come tax season. Let’s face it, QuickBooks is the leader in accounting software. If you are starting your business and don’t want to part with a couple hundred dollars on Quickbooks software, I recommend MyInvoices & Estimates Deluxe. The software can create invoices, logos, and can calculate taxes.