Harford officials propose land tax credit

Maryland

September 28, 2007

Harford County officials proposed an agricultural land tax credit yesterday intended to spur interest in saving farmland and help those who already have acreage in the preservation program.

The credit would increase from $35 to $50 per acre, saving the average landowner about $1,000 annually in property taxes. More than 550 Harford farms would qualify for the incentive.

"This is all about making Harford affordable for people who already live here," County Executive David R. Craig said yesterday, when he announced the proposal in Churchville.

County Council President Billy Boniface, a lifelong farmer, said the credit, which has not changed since Harford began its land preservation efforts in 1994, would help increase farm profit and attract other landowners to the program that permanently safeguards land from development.

"You can't have land preservation without ag profitability," Boniface said. "The investment in farms must continue. This is a huge benefit for those already in the program."

Harford, which set aside $14 million for farm preservation this year, has saved nearly 41,000 acres and will add nearly 1,715 acres this year, county officials said. The county has set a goal of 55,000 acres by 2012. More than 50 applications were submitted this year for the program, the most since the effort began.

The council will hold a public hearing Oct. 9 before voting on the proposal.

Mary Gail Hare

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