By Bob Katzen

The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would expand current law and make more farmers eligible for a favorable valuation of property process that results in a tax break. Under current law, to be eligible for the favorable valuation and the resulting tax break, a farmer must own and be farming a minimum of five contiguous acres of land. The bill would reduce the required number to two and not require the acres to be contiguous. The bill also reduces the required acres to two in cities or towns with a population of more than 50,000.

Supporters said that farming practices have been modernized and farmers no longer need vast contiguous acreage to grow crops and manage their livestock. They noted that in Eastern Massachusetts, contiguous land is getting harder to acquire.

“Farming is changing and it is growing exceedingly difficult for new farmers to find land and for existing farmers to keep the land they have,” said the measure’s sponsor Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport). “This bill would extend the benefits of a favorable valuation to small plots effectively preserving far land in Massachusetts.”

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