Buffalo County’s new agricultural/natural resources zoning district, ANR-40, has been approved and certified by the state of Wisconsin as a farmland preservation zoning district, the Buffalo County Zoning Department and Land Conservation Department announced Jan. 3.

Under the certified zoning program, income tax credits at $7.50 per acre are provided to landowners in exchange for keeping the land in agricultural use and complying with the state’s agricultural soil and water conservation standards.

In the course of the recent comprehensive revision of the Buffalo County Zoning Ordinance, nine towns — Alma, Belvidere, Cross, Dover, Glencoe, Modena, Mondovi, Naples, and Nelson — opted to select the ANR-40 zoning district as their primary district and are now eligible to participate in the Farmland Preservation Program.

The Farmland Preservation program offers state income tax credits to landowners who practice conservation farming. This is a voluntary program and there is no long-term agreement necessary for enrollment. Landowners receive a $7.50 per acre tax credit for keeping the land in agricultural use and meeting state conservation standards. There is no cap on the amount of credit that an individual can claim or on the amount of acreage eligible for a credit. Land that is under the Managed Forest Law is eligible for the tax credit.

To be eligible, you must be a Wisconsin resident for the entire taxable year, your land must be located in the ANR-40 zoning district, your land must have produced at least $6,000 in gross farm revenue during the previous year (or $18,000 within three years), all property taxes for the previous year must have been paid, and a certificate of compliance must be received from the Land Conservation Department showing your farm meets the state soil and water conservation standards.

An initial onsite visit will start the process. A farm will be inventoried by land conservation field staff to determine if land is in compliance with applicable cropland, pasture, and livestock conservation standards. Conservation compliance standards include requirements for nutrient management planning, soil sampling, and for controlling sources of soil erosion and other agricultural sources of nonpoint pollution. A certificate of compliance will be issued by the Land Conservation Department to every landowner that is meeting the agricultural standards which is used to claim the farmland preservation tax credit. Farm reviews are conducted at least every four years on all land owned to remain eligible for the program.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for status review, contact Carrie Olson, Buffalo County conservationist, at 608-685-6264.