Title Page
 Profile of Levy County
 Florida statutes regarding the...
 Small-scale farming systems

Title: Agriculturally classified small farm land use systems in Levy County, Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080613/00001
 Material Information
Title: Agriculturally classified small farm land use systems in Levy County, Florida
Series Title: Agriculturally classified small farm land use systems in Levy County, Florida.
Physical Description: 1 v. (various pagings) : maps ; 28 cm. +
Language: English
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E
Giesy, Russell G
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1994
Subject: Agricultural extension work -- Florida -- Levy County   ( lcsh )
Farms, Small -- Florida -- Levy County   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "March 1994."
General Note: Research was conducted by research teams from the University of Florida course "Farming Systems Research and Extension".
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080613
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 162192379

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Profile of Levy County
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Florida statutes regarding the classification of agricultural land
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Small-scale farming systems
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
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        Page 28
        Page 29
Full Text
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Farming Systems Research and Extension

March 1994



A. Background

This report is based on the findings of a sondeo conducted in Levy County, Florida in

February, 1994. During this sondeo, research teams from the University of Florida

interviewed thirty farm families in the areas of Williston, Chiefland, Inglis and Cedar Key

(see Appendix A). The sondeo was carried out in collaboration with Mr. Anthony Drew, the

Levy County Agricultural Agent, and Mr. Francis Akins, Levy County Property Appraiser, in

partial fulfillment of the course "Farming Systems Research and Extension" (AGG 5813) at

the University of Florida.

B. Methodology

A "sondeo" is a research methodology that stresses a farmer-participatory approach to

problem identification and problem solving, using informal interviews by multi-disciplinary

teams. The sondeo emphasizes the unique contributions made by all disciplines (i.e.

anthropologists, agronomists, economists, etc.) to farm evaluation. The objective of the

sondeo approach is to place the researcher in the role of student and the farmer in the role of

teacher. In this manner, the actual needs, goals and constraints as perceived by farmers

themselves may be identified more accurately. Moreover, farmers can also effectively evaluate

the appropriateness of recommended policies or technologies and establish evaluation criteria.

For the purposes of this sondeo, Levy county was divided into four separate regions

and a three-person team was assigned to each region. The research sample was selected from

lists provided by the Levy County Property Appraiser of property owners with land-holdings

of 20 acres or less, either applying for or already granted an agricultural tax assessment

classification. Teams conducted interviews on nine farms in the Chiefland area, seven farms

in the Cedar Key and southern Chiefland area, nine farms in the Williston area, and five

farms around Inglis and Gulf Hammock. Other farms were observed but not interviewed. In

addition, telephone interviews were conducted with the U.S. Forest Service nursery in

Chiefland, the Levy County Forester, and four area feed stores.

C. Objectives

The objectives of this sondeo were to:

Describe small farming systems in Levy County and identify general trends

Identify the needs, wants, goals and objectives of the farmers

Assess the general level of knowledge and experience of the farmers

Assess general trends in land acquisition (i.e. inherited, purchased, etc.)

Identify constraints to farming in the area

Identify ways in which the Extension Service could best meet the needs of
small farmers

Evaluate the nature of land use in Levy County in reference to the Florida
Statutes on agricultural classification


A. Location and History of Levy County

Levy County is located on the west coast of North Central Florida. Formed in 1845

from the counties of Alachua and Marion, Levy county includes over 486,000 acres, most of

which is rural farmland. Levy is bounded on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, west by Dixie

County, north by Gilchrist and Alachua, and on the east by Marion County. The county was

named for David Levy Yulee, one of the first United States Senators from Florida and a sugar

cane plantation owner.

Bronson is the county seat of Levy County. Named after an early settler, Bronson

grew from a small depot on the railroad line which served Cedar Key's pencil mills and

Tallahassee's cattle yards. Bronson became the county seast after the Civil War, when the old

courthouse at Levyville burned to the ground. Other important towns in Levy County include

Cedar Key, a small fishing village which was once a thriving port city and cedar pencil

manufacturing town, and Chiefland, which is one of the largest watermelon producing areas

in North Florida.

B. Climate.

Levy County is characterized by long, warm summers and mild winters. The average

temperature is 270 C in the summer and 15 C in the winter, with an average annual rainfall of

1270 mm (Puckett 1990). Most of the rainfall occurs during afternoon thunderstorms from June

through October. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Levy County is subject to occasional tropical

storms and hurricanes. During these events, extensive flooding may occur.

C. Soils.

Levy County is divided into two geomorphic subzones: the Terraced Coastal Lowlands

and the River Valley Lowlands (see Appendix B). The soils are characterized by sandy to clayey

unconsolidated marine and alluvial sediments with the presence of soluble limestone (Puckett

1990). Elevations range from 0 to 12 meters above mean sea level in a SW to NE trend across

the plane.

D. Topography

The landscape of the county is the result of a warm, humid climate; high annual rainfall;

bedrock composed of soluble carbonates; low surface elevations; porous rock covered by sand

and phosphatic beds; high concentrations of phosphoric, humic, and carbonic acid waters; and

fracturing along the Ocala Uplift (Puckett 1990). Groundwater, winds, and sea-level fluctuations

have also influenced the landscape. As a result, Levy County is characterized by a "closed karst"

topography, where limestone is covered by thin soils causing closed depressions and sink holes.

E. Social, Demographic and Economic Characteristics

According to the Gainesville Sun Almanac (1994), the population of Levy County is

26,682 and is mainly in rural areas (70.6%). Over one third of the population is under the age

of 25; 26% is between the ages of 25-44; 23% is between the ages of 45-64; and 20% is 65 and

older. The population of incorporated areas has dropped or grown at a slow rate. Between 1991

and 1992, Otter Creek had a 10% decline in population, Yankeetown had no growth, Williston

a minuscule 0.04% and Chiefland 0.1% growth in this period. In contrast, the unincorporated

areas of Levy County had a 4% increase in this same period. Ninety-eight percent of the increase

in population is due to immigration from other counties or states (The Gainesville Sun, 1994).

The large rural population would seem to indicate that Levy County has an agricultural

based economy. However, agriculture is not the economic driving force of the county. Most of

the employment opportunities come from the service and retail sectors of the economy. These

jobs are found in companies such as Wal-Mart, Winn Dixie, and Hardee's. Government jobs are

a vital source of income in Levy County, and include working for the Levy County School

Board, and the State and Federal Government. Agriculture is ranked fifth in terms of jobs for

the county. Per capital personal income for Levy County is very low, averaging only $12,286 in

1991 (The Gainesville Sun, 1994).

According to the Florida Statistical Abstract (1993), there are 540 farms in Levy county,

covering 179,608 acres. The average farm size is 333 acres, down from 406 acres in 1982. The

number of farms in the area is increasing, although the total agricultural land area is decreasing.

Six percent of the farms are less than 10 acres, 29% are 10-49 acres, 28% are 50-179 acres, and

37% are more than 180 acres. The county ranks 44th, out of 61 counties in Florida, in terms of

agricultural cash receipts.

In 1987, over $16 million dollars worth of agricultural products were sold in Levy

County. Of that $16 million, approximately $9 million was from poultry and livestock, whereas

$7 million was from crops. The average farm earned $30,194. Over 100,000 cords of softwood

pulp were harvested in 1991. Significant quantities of softwood saw logs, veneer logs and

hardwood pulp were also harvested.

Peanuts and corn are two of the most important crops in the county. Levy ranks fourth

in peanut production in the state, with a total of 4,100 acres planted. It is also the fourth largest

producer of watermelons in the state with 2,700 harvested acres. Levy ranks 17th in terms of

beef cattle inventory, with 31,700 beef cows (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer

services, 1993). The dairy industry is growing in importance.

Of the 540 farm families in Levy County, 223 consider farming their principal occupation.

The average age of the farmers is 54.8 years. There are 57 female, 22 African American/other

and 9 Hispanic farm operators (1987 figures from Fla Statistical Abstract, 1993).


A. The Law

Every state in the U.S. has legislatively approved some form of differential assessment

for land taxation. The common element among all states is that agricultural lands are taxed

according to income earning potential in agriculture, not the market or "just value" of the land

(Clouser 1983). Florida Statutes specify that all real property must be assessed at 100% of its

value. Estimates of use value assessment are derived by discounting the value of all future

income in agricultural production back to the present time period.

Use value assessment has been looked upon as one solution for protecting open areas

that lie in the path of suburban growth. Use value limits the tax value of a parcel of land to

the stream of earnings that could be generated from agriculture. This value differs from the

land's market value. Since the full value of a parcel will depend on several factors, the use

value assessment will generally be below market value (Milon, 1979). Florida landowners are

not penalized or charged a rollback if land is later converted to a non-agricultural use

(Clouser, 1983).

The Florida Statues regarding agricultural classification is known as the "Greenbelt

Law." The Florida Legislature passed the Greenbelt Law to protect and preserve agricultural

lands, to discourage unplanned urban expansion, and to provide open spaces (Colette 1978).

The classification and assessment of agricultural land is provided for in Chapter 193.461 of

the Florida Statutes. The statutes specify that all land in a county must be classified for

assessment purposes on an annual basis as either agricultural or nonagricultural. Further, the

statutes provide that only lands which are used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes

shall be classified agricultural. "Bona fide agricultural purposes" was further defined to mean

good faith commercial agricultural use of the land.

A number of factors were suggested for determining whether the use of the land for

agricultural purposes was bona fide, including "good faith commercial agricultural use of the

land". The Florida statutes delineate a number of factors that may be taken into consideration

to determine agricultural land use classification including the size of the holding, the length of

time the land has been cultivated, whether the use has been continuous, the purchase price

paid, whether an effort has been made to care for the land in accordance with accepted

commercial agricultural practices, whether such land is under lease, and any other factors

that may become applicable.

However, since the statutes were passed and the rules of the Department of Revenue

were approved, court decisions have limited the application of many of these factors for

determining agricultural classification. They have eliminated size, profit, purchase price,

accepted agricultural practices, primary use, zoning, platting and bona fide commercial

agricultural use as criteria for establishing agricultural classification. The prevailing criterion

being applied appears to be current physical use of the land (Colette, 1983).

B. The Impact of the Law

The impact of urbanization on agriculture is indicated by the fact that, as far back as

1983, agricultural land value has represented less than 10% of the total taxable value in 32 of

the 67 counties in Florida (Colette 1983). The Greenbelt Provision lowers the tax liability for

lands maintained in bona fide agricultural use, compared to those held for speculation or land

development. This law removes some of the pressure to sell land at high market values and

offers incentives to keep land in agricultural or forestry production.

The agricultural classification and use value assessment laws have had a major impact

on the tax liability of Florida farmers. Colette (1983) estimated that, in 1978, without these

provisions, the tax burden on farm and ranch land would increase two to five times. As a

result, more and more people have been applying for agricultural classified use assessment

(Colette 1983). Property appraisers have found it increasingly difficult to determine exactly

what constitutes "bona fide commercial agricultural use" and to differentiate between those

parcels that should receive agricultural classification and those that should not.

C. Conclusions regarding land classification

This tax scenario is quite relevant to the case of the smaller land holdings in Levy

County in which agricultural production is not generally that profitable from a financial

standpoint. Most of the small farmers do not have visibly "commercial" farming systems.

The question then is, what exactly constitutes a bone fide agricultural operation under the

law? If agricultural classification hinges, not so much on the "commercial" aspect of the

law, but on the actual definition of "agriculture" or "farming", then the issue becomes even

more complex. However, it is essential to keep in mind that the Florida Statutes represent a

rather antiquated perception of agriculture. Currently, there is a trend towards more

sustainable approaches to agriculture, as well as to redefine and reevaluate the implications of

commercial agricultural management strategies. If the law was passed to protect not only

agriculture but also to protect land for agricultural purposes in the future, then the way land is

used becomes even more important to the determination of agricultural classification.

Because the current system of agriculture classification requires "agricultural use", a

number of small land holders have intensified their agricultural systems to meet the legal

requirements for agricultural classification. This has generally resulted in putting more land

into agriculture and forestry production at the expense of other forms of land use

management, and not at the expense of land speculation or development. If the original goals

of the Greenbelt Law still hold true, and if the State of Florida is sincere in its stated desire

to protect the environment in the future, then the Greenbelt Law should make special

provisions for small land holders. In addition, non-traditional land use patterns such as

hunting preserves and wildlife habitats may also be addressed.

The question remains of how to determine "agricultural use." We decided that

agricultural use meant that the land was producing something for the family, and the family

was caring for the land. All but one of the farm families we visited were using the land as a

homestead and lived there because they enjoyed country life. With one exception, there was

no evidence that any of the people we visited were holding onto the land for speculative

purposes. Although some combination of family occupancy and land stewardship could be

used to classify agricultural land, the only way to determine this type of land use would be to

look at how people are using the land. There can be no one overlying rule or criteria upon

which all farms could be classified as agricultural. Small farms in particular are quite variable

in their activities and land use patterns. This criteria of current land use is currently employed

by tax assessors to classify agricultural land, and, based on our survey, it seems to be



A. General Profile

The following information is based on the findings of the sondeo conducted in Levy

County during the month of February, 1994. Thirty farm families were interviewed. The

overwhelming majority of the families we visited depended on off-farm jobs, retirement

benefits or disability checks for income. Forty three percent of the farmers were retired, and

57% were self-employed or worked off the farm.

While these small farmers' agricultural production is very diverse, pine trees and

pastures are the main agricultural enterprises in the area. However, these types of activities

were not found on all farms. Most farms practiced several different farming activities. The

specific breakdown for farm activities found in the sondeo include:

Activity Percent of farms

Pastures 63%
Pine trees 46%
Livestock 46%
Horses 36%
Fruit/Nut trees 33%
Vegetable Gardens 30%
Bees 6%
Aquaculture 3%

All family members participate in the function and operation of the farm. Both family

and local labor (especially youth) are used in agricultural activities. Women play an active

role in these small farm systems. They are often the prime cultivators, managers and financial

administrators. Children help build fences and feed animals. Men often work the heavy

machinery (e.g. driving the tractor), although women and older children are also employed in

these activities. The age distribution of the adults in this sondeo was as follows: 30% were

25-44 years of age, 40% were 45-65 years of age and 30% were over 65.

The farmers we interviewed could be divided into "old line" families originally from

Levy County and "new arrivals". Of those participating in the sondeo, 57% were "new

arrivals", and had moved to the county since 1982. Forty-three percent were born and raised

in the county. Of those that moved into Levy County, 20% came from out of state and 80%

came from other counties in Florida. This division between the "old line" and "new arrivals"

is apparent in the way they get help and information, and in the way they solve their

problems. Farmers new to the area tended to have more problems identifying appropriate soil

management techniques, and other agricultural information specific to Levy County

conditions. The "new arrivals" generally were not integrated into local social or

communication networks that allow them to call upon the experience and knowledge of older,

more established farmers. Some farmers described problems getting basic services (electricity,

phone, and road grading), help from the Extension Service, and affordable veterinary care.

Several individuals had no knowledge of the Extension Service, or the assistance it offers.

Although there seems to be considerable diversity both within and between farms, a

few general trends have been identified:

Every farm household visited had other, non-agricultural sources of income
(including pensions).

In general, systems are low-input, requiring less capital or management than
large operations.

Many farmers seemed interested in novel approaches to insect and disease
management, as well as compost and alternative fertilization schemes.

The majority are first-generation owners of the land.

Informal information and produce exchanges are common.

B. Cropping

For Levy County overall, peanuts, watermelons and hay are the major crops grown.

Although hay is an important crop for many farmers in our survey, peanuts and watermelon

are not. High value vegetable crops, fruits, and ornamentals are more common, and are

primarily grown for home consumption. Surplus vegetables and fruits -- fresh, frozen, or

canned -- are often given to neighbors, sometimes in exchange for something else. For

example, it appears common for farmers without livestock to exchange vegetables for cow

and horse manure from neighboring farms with livestock. Farmers used commercial

fertilizers, manure and compost to improve soil conditions. In general, farmers appear to be

reluctant to use commercial pesticides, except when absolutely necessary. Farmers expressed

concern for environmental contamination and water quality.

C. Livestock and Pasture

Many of the farmers we interviewed were fairly new to farming and had learned

animal husbandry on their own. Beef and dairy cattle, horse, pig, goat, poultry and apiculture

enterprises were observed. Beef cattle production in particular is a significant enterprise for

small farmers in the Chiefland and Inglis area, but not in the Cedar Key area. Although beef

cattle operations are highly visible in the county, most of those land holdings are larger than

20 acres. Common breeds include Brahma and Angus, and purebred bulls such as Limousine,

Beefmaster and Belgian Blue.

Most people use either native pastures or plant improved grasses such as Pensacola

Bahia or Coastal Bermudagrass as forage or to make hay. No legume pastures were

mentioned or observed. Winter grasses such as oats may also be planted to alleviate the

winter pasture deficit. Salt, minerals and molasses are given as supplements. Range pellets

are given in the winter months, when pasture production is limited.

Hay is an important crop, both for farm use (cattle and horse) and for sale. Nineteen

of the 30 families interviewed produced or consumed hay. Leasing arrangements are also

used, either to increase access to grazing land, or to allow others to produce hay on unused


The farmers in our survey used various strategies to get around the major constraint

for cattle and horse production, which was lack of, or poor-quality forage. Some farmers

borrowed hay from family members in other areas. Another family only fattened a few steers

to provide meat for themselves and some to sell to cover expenses. A third farmer with more

land purchased bred heifers, sold the calves at weaning and supplemented the herd with hay

and concentrate during the cold season. The latter worked cooperatively with his neighbors,

exchanging caretaking of the neighbor's fences for use rights of his pasture. He also would

share veterinary costs with a neighbor by coordinating visits so the vet could visit both farms

at once. Other farmers used feed supplements or available native range.

Market opportunities for selling livestock at local auctions are quite good. Large

auctions in Ocala and Gainesville were a source and outlet for buying and selling beef cattle.

Another auction exists for the sale of small stock, including rabbits. These markets are very

active and serve as a source of information dissemination and an opportunity for farmers to

exchange ideas.

D. Forestry

Many small farmers in the area produce pine, which serves several purposes. First,

pine is one of the most widely accepted means of maintaining an agriculture classification for

tax purposes. Moreover, the trees serve as a bank, and are commonly harvested in times of

financial need, or to plan for retirement. Finally, pine trees provide these farmers with a low-

input, income generating venture.

Not only is pine important to small farmers, but small farmers are important to the

pine industry. Twenty-eight percent of the timberland in Levy County is privately held. Thus,

any planned changes in agriculture classification criteria which may result in changes in land

use patterns should consider the impact of these changes on the forest and timber industries

(Brown and Thompson 1987).

From the State nursery in Chiefland, the U.S. Forest Service sold 24 million seedlings

last year in the State of Florida. Slash pine sell for $30/1000 seedlings and long leaf pine sell

for $45/1000 seedlings. Sand pine and cypress are also sold. Planting and maintenance

instructions are given upon request. The Federal Forestry Service also publishes several

booklets and brochures to facilitate the process.

Timber sales are handled by consultants (for a commission, 10% of the total sale), or

timber owners can invite companies to submit bids for their timber. Current prices for timber

products in the area are $48/cord for pulp wood and $250 per 1000 board feet for saw timber.

The Florida Timber Times (November, 1993) estimated that an average pine pulpwood stand

produces 1.78 cords/acre/year, or a total of 35-54 cords/acre in a 25 year rotation (average

44.5 cords/acre). However, most of the farmers we talked to used rotations of 13-15 years. If

stands were harvested in 25 years, a farmer with 10 acres in pine could make $21,000 (at

current prices). Non-price values such as wildlife and sound barriers are not considered in this

economic picture, but could be important.

E. Aquaculture

Although fishing is an important industry in Cedar Key, we only visited one farmer

who was practicing aquaculture. This farmer had been trained through a program in oyster

and clam farming sponsored by Project Ocean (Oyster and Clam Educational Aquaculture

Network) in Levy County. The training program focused on the techniques used in the

culture of oysters and clams, but did not cover marketing and administration. This farmer

expressed an interest in receiving more information on the marketing aspect of aquaculture.

Other farmers expressed an interest in catfish farming, but needed more information. In

general, aquaculture seems like a good opportunity for small farmers in the area of Cedar Key

with limited access to land, and limited management time.

E. Summary of small-scale farming systems

The families we interviewed were motivated primarily by a desire to live in the

country. They enjoyed the opportunity to be out doors and were happy to be away from the

constraints of city life. Most of these farm families realized their farms did not have great

profit potential, due to the size of their holding and the expense involved with farming at this

scale. Profitability did not seem to be a major priority for these families. Instead, they

seemed more interested in covering their costs of living, with the possibility of occasional

profit. The ability to raise a portion of their own food was seen by some as an added benefit.

Capital was not a primary constraint for most of the farmers we interviewed because

they had sources of off-farm income. Off-farm income supported these families and allowed

them to enjoy the aesthetics of country living, but contributes to the time limitations..

V. Constraints

The major constraints identified by the farmers include:

Lack of information. Areas in which information is needed include the
identification and control of plant and animal pests and diseases, market
opportunities, and low-tech/low-input management techniques.

a Lack of time. Most farmers either work off the farm or are retired. In both
cases, labor (in terms of time or energy expenditure) was limited and, as a
general rule, their financial resources precluded them from hiring outside labor.
Farmers, therefore, expressed an interest in technologies and production
systems that were not labor intensive.

Limited natural resources. The study area has sandy "ball bearing" soils,
especially in the Cedar Key region. Many farmers had to choose between
either low productivity or high input costs to compensate for the poor soils.
This condition limits (but does not preclude) agricultural opportunities.

Many of these farmers lacked training and experience in agriculture. Other individuals

that did have agricultural backgrounds were from outside the county and lacked specific

knowledge about the environmental and market characteristics of Levy county. These farmers

were training themselves and learning through trial and error. They reported that it was

difficult to find practical information about small farming. In particular they were interested

in information on pasture improvement and management, soil capabilities, fertilizer

recommendations, and livestock health and nutrition.

The limited time available for agricultural activities and the nature of the resource base

they own are constraints which will require considerable ingenuity to overcome. These

families had time constraints because of off-farm employment. They are willing to invest in

their farm operation but try to avoid practices that required intensive labor practices. When

not employed off-farm, these families said they invested more time in farm production.

VI. Recommendations

As many of the constraints are associated with lack of information, these

recommendations focus on the kinds of information needed and possible means for


Inexpensive and informative publications should be made more readily
available, especially those dealing with cattle management, pasture
improvement, horse management, plant disease and insect control and
identification, aquaculture, and forestry (especially pine). These publications
should offer options for limited time, limited input farmers.

A publication focussing specifically on the options and opportunities for small
farmers should be made available. The publication might discuss the costs and
benefits of each activity, to allow the farmers to choose which activity might
meet their needs and constraints.

A letter of introduction from the Extension Service to all the small farmers in
the county would be highly beneficial, since many of the new farmers either
know very little about the Extension Service or its services.

If possible, the Extension Service should produce a newsletter that specifically
addresses the concerns of the small farmer in Levy County. Most of the
information already available is either not site-specific or focuses on larger
farms with very different constraints. The farmers may be willing to pay a
nominal subscription fee.

Feed stores and livestock auctions should be used for literature displays, field
days, and demonstrations. Most of the farmers relied on businesses such as
feed stores for information, but most of the available brochures come from
industry, suppliers and advertising.

Informal farmer gatherings to share information would be of great assistance.
This need not be a formal cooperative, but rather a structured, yet informal,
network of people with occasional get together in a casual setting.

Extension information provided for these farmers should focus on the practical needs

of small scale farmers. Specifically, these farmers needed information on animal nutrition,

animal disease prevention, horse husbandry and soil testing. Moreover, these farmers could

use specific recommendations regarding how to improve pasture quality on Levy County's

soils. We recommend that the Extension Service do some public relations work with the

small land holders in Levy County and inform them of all the services that are available.

VII Conclusions

In general, small farmers in Levy County are a diverse group, practicing many

different kinds of farming systems. However, they are all limited to some extent by time,

available resources and information. There is a trend in the county towards smaller parcels of

land and smaller farms. Many farmers are new to the area (less than 10 years), and lack

agricultural experience or experience with Levy County conditions. Most of the farmers

purchased their land rather than inheriting it. The agricultural lifestyle is important to these

farmers, perhaps more important than the agricultural activity itself or the income it generates.

On the question of agricultural classifications, we found all of the farms visited met

our criteria of agricultural use. Early attempts to define "bone fide" agricultural use did not

take into account the goals and objectives of small farmers, including the importance of the

rural setting and the lifestyle opportunities it affords, which in many ways coincide with the

stated goals and objectives of the original Greenbelt law. Any attempt to develop specific,

objective criteria by which all lands could be assessed as agricultural will be very difficult,

because of the diverse and dynamic nature of these farms.


Brown, Mark, and Michael Thompson. 1987. Forest Statistics for Florida. Asheville, North
Carolina: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment

Clouser, Rodney L. 1983. A Review of Use Value Assessment Programs. Staff paper #238.
Food and Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Colette, W. Arden. 1983. Results of a Survey Evaluating Abuses of Agricultural Classified
Use Assessments in Florida. Staff paper #242. Food and Resource Economics Department,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Colette, W. Arden. 1978. Ad Valorem Taxation of Agricultural Land in Florida. Staff paper
#104. Food ad Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Florida Agricultural Facts. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 1993.

The Gainesville Sun Almanac. 1994. The Fact Book for North Central Florida.
(February 20, 1994).

Milon, J. Walter. 1979. Agriculture and the Property Tax: Theoretical Issues. Staff paper
#121. Food ad Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Puckett, William. 1990. Soils, Landscapes, and Ground Penetrating Radar Analyses of the
Chiefland Limestone Plain in Levy County, Florida. Thesis (Ph.D.), University of Florida.
University of Florida. 1993. Florida Statistical Abstract. Gainesville, Florida: University of
Florida Press.

University of Florida. 1993. The Florida Timber Times. No. 13 (November, 1993).
Department of Forestry, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.




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I i Citrus County

Puckett, William
1990 Soils, Landscapes, and Ground=Penetrating Radar
Analyses of the Chiefland Limestone Plain in Levy County,
Florida. Thesis (Ph.D.), University of Florida.

Page 2

Physiographic areas of Levy County, Florida



Coharie-Okefenokee Terrace
ZBrooksville ridge

Wicomico Terrace
ESand belt and coast line
]Chiefland limestone plain

Pamlico Terrace
EBSand belt and coast line
E3Limestone shelf and hammocks
8Coastal marsh belt


Suwannee River Valley Lowland
BFlood plain
0Sand bars of Pamilco formation
OSand bars of Wicomico formation

Waccasassa River Valley Lowland
MDelta plain of Pamilco formation
5MAlluvium of Wicomico formation
QWilliston limestone plain

Puckett, William
1990 Soils, Landscapes, and Ground=Penetrating Radar
Analyses of the Chiefland Limestone Plain in Levy County,
Florida. Thesis (Ph.D.), University of Florida.



3 Silver Bluff terrace (< 3 m).

S Pamlico terrace (3 to 8 m).

S Penholoway terrace (14 to 23 m).

D Wicomico terrace (26 to 33 m).

1 Coharie-Okefenokee terrace (> 33 m).

Terraces identified in Levy County, Florida

Puckett, William
1990 Soils, Landscapes, and Ground=Penetrating Radar
Analyses of the Chiefland Limestone Plain in Levy County,
Florida. Thesis (Ph.D.), University of Florida.


(Colette 1978) Page

State Constitution Article VII

Section 4. Taxation; assessments.--By general law regulations shall be
prescribed which shall secure a just valuation of all property for ad
valorem taxation, provided:
(a)-Agricultural land or land used exclusively for non-commercial recre-
ational purposes may be classified by general law and assessed solely on
the basis of character or use.
(b) Pursuant to general law tangible personal property held for sale as
stock in trade and livestock may be valued for taxation at a specified
percentage of its value.



193.461 Agricultural lands; classification and assessment.
193.507 Lands within areas of critical state concern; reassessment.
193.623 Assessment of building renovations for accessibility to the
physically handicapped. (new)

193.461 Agricultural lands; classification and assessment.--
(1) The property appraiser shall, on an annual basis, classify for
assessment purposes all lands within the county as either agricultural or
1(2) Any landowner whose land is denied agricultural classification by
the property appraiser may appeal to the property appraisal adjustment
board. The board may also review all lands classified by the property
appraiser upon its own motion. The.property appraiser shall have available
at his office a list by omwership of all applications received showing the
acreage, the full valuation under s. 193.011, the valuation of the land
under the provisions of this section, and whether or not the classification
requested was granted.
(3)(a) No lands shall be classified as agricultural lands unless a re-
turn is filed on or before March 1 of each year. The property appraiser,
before so classifying said lands, may required the taxpayer or his repre-
sentative to furnish the property appraiser such information as may reason-
ably be required to establish that said lands were actually used for a bona
fide agricultural purpose. Failure to make timely application by-March
1 shall constitute a waiver for 1 year of the privilege herein granted for
agricultural assessment. The owner of land that was classified agricultural
in the previous year and whose ownership or use has not changed may reapply
on a short form as provided by the department.
(b) Subject to the restrictions set out in this section, only lands
which are used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes shall be
classified agricultural. "Bona fide agricultural purposes" means good faith
commercial agricultural use of the land. In determining whether the use of
the land for agricultural purposes is bona fide, the following factors may
be taken into consideration:
1. The length of time the land has been so utilized;
2. Whether the use has been continuous;
3. The purchase price paid;
4. Size, as it relates to specific agricultural use;

Page 2

5. Whether an indicated effort has been made to care sufficiently and
adequately for the land in accordance with accepted commercial agricultural
practices; including, without limitation, fertilizing, liming, tilling,
mowing, reforesting, and other accepted agricultural practices;
6. Whether such land is under.lease and, if so, the effective length,
terms, and conditions of the lease; and
7. Such other factors as may from time to time become applicable.
(c) The maintenance of a dwelling on part of the lands used for agri-
cultural purposes shall not in itself preclude an agricultural classifica-
S(4)(a.) The property appraiser shall reclassify the following lands as
1. Land diverted from an agricultural to a nonagricultural use;
2. Land no longer being utilized for agricultural purposes;
3. Land that has been zoned.to a nonagricultural use at the request of
the owner subsequent to the enactment of this law; or
4. Land for which the owner has recorded a subdivision plat subsequent to
the enactment of this law.
(b) The board of county commissioners may also reclassify lands class-
ified as agricultural to nonagricultural when there is contiguous urban or
metropolitan development and the board of county commissioners finds that
the continued use of such lands for agricultural purposes will act as a de-
terrent to the timely and orderly expansion of the community.
(c) Sale of land for a purchase price which is three or more times the
agricultural assessment placed on the land shall create a presumption that
such land is not used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes. Upon
a showing of special circumstances by the landowner demonstrating that the
land is to be continued in bona fide agriculture, this presumption may be
(5) For the purpose of this section, "agricultural purposes" shall include
horticulture; floriculture; viticulture; forestry, dairy; livestock; poultry;
bee; pisciculture, when the land is used principally for the production of '
tropical fish; and all forms of farm products and farm production.
(6) () In years i-n w-hich proper application for agricultural assessment
has been made and granted pursuant to this section, the assessment of land
shall be based solely on its agricultural use. The property appraiser shall
consider the following use factors only:
1. The quantity and size of the property;
2. The condition of said property;
3. The present market value of said property as agricultural land;
4. The income produced by said property;
5. The productivity of land in its present use;
6. The economic merchantability of the agricultural product, and
7. Such other agricultural factors as may from time to time become
(b) In years in which proper application for agricultural assessment
has not been made the land shall be assessed under the provisions of s.193.011

History,--s. 1, ch 59-226; s. 1. ch. 67-117; ss. 1,2. ch. 69-55; s. 1,
ch. 72-151; s. 4. ch. 74-234; s. 3. ch. 76-133.
e.-As amended, effective ctobe 1976.
Aote.--As amended, effective October 1, 1976.

Page 3


12D-5.01 Agricultural Classification, Definitions
12D-5.02 Purchase Price Paid as a Factor in Determining
Agricultural Classification
12D-5.03 Dwellings on Agriculturally Classified Land
12D-5.04 Other Factors That May Become Applicable
12D-5.05 Outdoor Recreational or Park Lands

12D-5.01 Agricultural Classification, Definitions

(1) For the purposes of Section 193,461, F.S., agricultural purposes
does not include the wholesaling, retailing, or processing of farm products,
such as by a canning factory.

(2) Good faith commercial agricultural use of property is defined as
the pursuit of an agricultural activity for a reasonable profit or at least
upon a reasonable expectation of meeting investment cost and realizing a
reasonable profit. The profit or reasonable expectation thereof must be
viewed from the standpoint of the fee owner and measured in light of his

General Authority: Section 195.027,F.S.
Law Implemented: Section 193.461,F.S.

12D-5.02 Purchase Price Paid as a Factor in Determining Agricultural

The Property Appraiser may determine that the "purchase price paid"
for land is inconsistent with agricultural use. A purchase price in excess
of the agricultural assessment can be indictive of lack of-a "good faith
commercial agricultural capitalization of the income to be produced by land
in such a use and thus approximates the amount that could be invested con-
sistent with a reasonable return.

Additionally, should the purchase price paid exceed the agricultural
assessment by three or more times a presumption that the land is not used
primarily for good faith commercial agricultural purposes is created by
Section 193.461 (4)(c), F.S. The mere filing of a return is not sufficient
to overcome this presumption created by the purchase price. Instead, the
landowner must make a showing of special circumstances such as but not limited
to: 1) need of the acquired property to expand a previously owned agricul-
tural operation; 2) need of the acquired property to facilitate proper
drainage of a previously owned agricultural operation; 3) need of the ac-
quired property for engress or egress related to a previously owned agricul-
tural operation; 4) the need of the acquired property to reestablish an
agricultural operation after the owner's previous agricultural operation was
terminated due to eminant domain proceedings or other similar circumstances;

Page 4

and 5) when the purchase price includes payment for other than real pro-
perty, such as improvements on or to the land or deferred income, e.g.

Furthermore, the presumption created by Section 193,461 (4)(c), F.S.,
may be defeated by overcoming the appraiser's presumption of correctness
as to the agriculturally classified value and demonstrating that the pur-
chase price paid was not three or more times what the agriculturally class-
ified value should be. However, such a showing while defeating the pre-
sumption would not prevent a denial of the classification if the purchase
price paid was nonetheless indicative of a lack of good faith commercial
agricultural use.

General Authority:
Law Implemented:

Section 195.027, F.S.
Section 193.461, F.S.

12D-5.03 Dwellings on Agriculturally Classified Land

The Property Appraiser shall not deny agricultural classification
solely because of the maintenance of a dwelling on a part of the lands
used for agricultural purposes, nor shall the agricultural classification
disqualify the land for homestead exemption. So long as the swelling is an
integral part of the entire agricultural operation the land it occupies shall
be considered agricultural in nature. However, such dwellings and other
improvements on the land shall be assessed under Section 193.011, F.S., at
their just value and added to the agriculturally assessed value of the land.

General Authority:
Law Implemented:

Section 195.027, F.S.
Section 193.461, F.S.

12D-5.04 Other Factors That May Become Applicable

(1) Other factors enumerated by the court in Greenwood v. Oates, 229
So. 2d 665 (Fla. 1971), which the property appraiser may consider but to
which he is not limited are:

(a) Opinions of appropriate experts in the fields;
(b) Business or occupation of the owner. (Note that this cannot be
considered over and above or the exclusion of the actual use of the property.
(See AGO 72-123);
(c) The nature of the terrain of the property;
(d) Economic merchantability of the agricultural product; and
(e) The reasonably attainable economic salability of the product
within a reasonable future time for the particular agricultural product.

(2) Other factors that are recommended to be considered are:
(a) Zoning (other than 193.461, F.S.), applicable to the land;
(b) General character of the neighborhood;
(c). Use of adjacent properties;
(d) Proximity of subject properties to a metropolitan area and services;
(e) Principal domicile of the owner and family;
(f) Date of acquisition;

Page 5

(g) Agricultural experience of the person conducting
agricultural operations;
(h) Participation in governmental or private
agricultural programs or:activities;
(i) Amount of harvest for each crop;
(j) Gross sales from the agricultural operation;
(k) Months of hired labor; and
(1) Inventory of buildings and machinery and the
condition of the same.

General Authority: Section 195.027, F.S.
Law Implemented: Section 193.461, F.S.

12D-5.05 Outdoor Recreational or Park Lands

The recreational use must be non-commercial. Although
public access is not necessarily a prerequisite to classification
and tax treatment under Section 193.501, F.S., nevertheless,
in their discretion, the trustees of the internal improvement
trust fund or the governing board of a county or delegated
municipality, as the case may be, need not accept an instrument
conveying development rights or establishing a covenant
under the statute. In all cases, the tax treatment provided
by Section 193.501, F.S., shall continue only so long as the
lands are actually used for outdoor recreational or park
purposes. Since all property is assessed as of its status
on January 1 of the tax year, if the instrument conveying
the development rights or establishing the convenant is not
accepted by the appropriately authorized body on or before
January 1 of the tax year, then special treatment under
Section 193.501, F.S., would not be available for that tax
year. When special treatment under the statute is to be
granted because of a convenant such special treatment shall
be granted only if the convenant extends for a period of ten
or more years from January 1 of each year for which such
special treatment assessment is made.

General Authority: Section 195.027, F.S.
Law Implemented: Section 193.501, F.S.

AFFECTIv[ DATE 10-11276

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