Farmland Preservation Program

What is the Farmland Preservation Program?

The main purpose of the Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) is to preserve Wisconsin rural land by means of local and land use planning and conservation practices. Landowners that participate in Columbia County's FPP are eligible to collect FPP tax credits. 

All Towns have the choice to participate in the program, as the program is not state mandated.  If a Town does not participate by farmland preservation zoning or does not obtain an AEA (for farmland preservation agreements), the Town's landowners are not eligible for the Farmland Preservation Program tax credits:  Landowners in the following towns are not eligible for the program: Randolph & Scott Township.

Am I Eligible for the Farmland Preservation Tax Credit?

The following requirements must be met to claim the farmland preservation tax credit under FC or FC-A:

  • The landowner must have been the owner of the farmland for the year in which the credit is claimed for lands located in a certified farmland preservation zoning district, enrolled in an effective farmland preservation agreement, or both. The landowner need not be the farm operator and may rent the land to a farmer.
  • The landowner must have been a resident of Wisconsin for the entire taxable year.
  • The landowner may not have claimed homestead credit or veterans and surviving spouses' property tax credit for that year.
  • The farm must meet applicable state soil and water conservation standards and receive a certificate of compliance from the County. For exact requirements, contact the county land conservation department in which the land is located.
  • The land produced $6,000 in gross farm revenue in the preceding year or $18,000 in gross farm revenue during the preceding three years. If a landowner rents the farmland, the landowner may claim on that land provided the renter meets the gross farm revenue requirement.


Possible Income Tax Credits Available to Landowners

Income tax credits available to landowners under FC-A are tiered based on the landowner's type of participation in the farmland preservation program. Tax credits are equal to:

  • $5.00/Acre for landowners with a farmland preservation agreement signed after July 1, 2009, and located in an agricultural enterprise area, or for landowners who have modified an agreement initially signed before July 1, 2009
  • $7.50/Acre for landowners in an area zoned for farmland preservation
  • $10.00/Acre for landowners in an area zoned for farmland preservation and in an agricultural enterprise area with a farmland preservation agreement signed after July 1, 2009, or in an area zoned for farmland preservation and with a farmland preservation agreement modified after July 1, 2009

All landowners claiming tax credits under the revised program must comply with statewide conversation standards. The statewide conservation standards are specified in the Wisconsin Administrative Rules ATCP 50 and NR151, and are summarized below:

  1. All land where crops or feed are grown shall be cropped to achieve a soil erosion rate equal to, or less than, the “tolerable” (T) rate established for that soil, according to the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, Version 2 – (RUSLE2)
  2. Cropland gully erosion is under control.
  3. All crop producers and livestock producers that apply manure or other nutrients to agricultural fields shall have and follow an annual nutrient management plan that complies with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Standard #590
  4. Construction of a new manure storage facility or alterations to an old manure storage facility must be done so as to minimize the risk of structural failure or leakage. (Dodge County also has an ordinance regulating manure storage construction and closure
  5.  A manure storage facility shall be closed when the facility has ceased operation, or manure has not been added or removed for a period of 24 months; and closure shall be done in a manner that will prevent contamination of groundwater or surface water
  6. Failing and leaking manure storage facilities that pose an imminent threat to public health or wildlife, etc. shall be upgraded, replaced or abandoned
  7. Runoff shall be diverted away from contacting feedlots, manure storage or barnyard areas within water quality management areas (within 300 feet of a stream or ditch; or within 1,000 feet of a lake)
  8. There shall be no overflow of a manure storage facility
  9. There shall be no unconfined manure pile within water quality management areas
  10. There shall be no direct runoff from a feedlot or stored manure into waters of the state
  11. here shall be no unlimited access by livestock to waters of the state where high concentrations of animals prevent the maintenance of adequate sod or self-sustaining vegetative cover

This is a state mandated cross-compliance rule that requires all landowners receiving a tax credit through this program maintain cropland soil erosion rates at "tolerable" levels (as defined by NRCS technical standards). The LWCD is also required to do a conservation compliance check of a percentage of the program participants each year. When changes are made to the land, you will need to contact our office to update your Certificate of Compliance. 

You now receive a "certificate number" to use for your taxes each year and any changes done on the land need to be updated on that Certificate before filing your taxes.  If no changes exist year-to-year and you continue your compliance on your land use, the certificate number will remain an active number to use for tax filing.

What About Renewable Energy Production?

Energy production is not an agricultural use, regardless of whether it is commercial or accessory to a farm for the purposes of the farmland preservation law. For more information, please read the renewable energy frequently asked questions document below.

For more information from DATCP, visit: