(Information Courtesy of A Guide to Rural Living & Small-Scale Agriculture 2001 Edition)
An agricultural classification means the property value is based on the property being used for agricultural production instead of market value.
Parcels of all sizes can be classified as Agricultural in Routt County. To maintain that classification, the landowner must meet the criteria for being actively engaged in agriculture and be able to provide a clear evidence to the county assessor. Loss of the agricultural classification means a re-classification to residential or commercial. There are generally substantial differences in agricultural value and market value, thus higher property taxes for non-agricultural land. To regain the agricultural classification, one must show proof of agricultural activity for three consecutive years and then the property can be re-classified in the third year.
Agricultural classification is based on use of the land regardless of zoning. A zoning of Ag/Forestry does not equate with agricultural classification.
Criteria for agricultural classification
Primary intent of the land use is to obtain a monetary profit from the land from agricultural activities. A claim for agricultural classification can be made if there is truly an intent to produce agricultural products and agriculture is the primary use of the land. Agricultural use as defined by the State of Colorado means using the land as a farm or ranch. A farm is generally planting, harvesting and selling a crop such as wheat, oats barley or hay. A ranch is defined as a grazing operation of domestic animals for human or animal consumption. Horse operations may be considered agricultural if the horses are for breeding and selling, training and selling or another means of making a monetary profit. Pleasure horses and 4-H projects are not considered an agricultural operation. Horticultural operations are considered agriculture if the product is grown in the soil. Parcels of 40 acres or more can be classified agricultural if they are in a forestry program administered by the Colorado State Forest Service.
To maintain the agriculture tax classification, proof of agricultural activity is required by the assessor. Such items as the Schedule E or F or Form 4835 of your federal tax return, copy of leases with proof of payment, bills of sale for products bought or sold, brand inspection certificates etc. can be submitted. The assessor will periodically view each parcel for verification of agricultural activity.
Any questions regarding the current classification of land or possible agricultural uses of land should be directed to the Routt County Assessors office:
Routt County Assessor's Office
Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.
PO Box 773210
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477