Wednesday, 16 May 2007 01:00
Rent a CowWritten by WGCU Newsroom
A loophole in Florida’s greenbelt law that allows developers to claim agricultural exemptions will remain intact for at least another year.
It’s a familiar sight throughout much of Florida – cows grazing beside the interstate or other major roadways on a scrap of land surrounded by development. State Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller has tried unsuccessfully to legislate an end to the practice he jokingly calls “Hertz rent-a-cow”
“an example used to drive to work and drive by lot – the lot was cleared for development – trees grass graded – clearly was ready to start building, but I guess the deal fell through cause what happened one day I saw four or five cows appear on that property – no trees no grass – they would bring in bales of hay – and metal trough with hose for water – no one can legitimately claim that’s agricultural.”
Geller says some urban landowners have actually rented the cows to turn the property into grazing lend to qualify for the agricultural exemption which lowers their tax rate. He says he supports the greenbelt law which protects bona-fide agricultural interests - but he says it was the agricultural lobby that kept his proposed legislation from moving forward. Geller says he’s not sure if he’ll bring it up again next session.
Florida senate minority leader Steve Geller says some land-owners are claiming unfair agricultural exemptions – by grazing a few cows on land in urban areas that’s been rezoned for development. He says it’s a loophole that costs counties millions of dollars of tax revenue.
“you don’t even have to buy the cows – you can rent the cows to put on your property – I jokingly call it calling up hertz rent a cow that’s ridiculous – its not real bona-fide agricultural use its merely getting out of paying their fair share of property taxes which means everybody else has to pay more in property taxes to make up for it”
Geller wrote a bill this year that would have ended the practice but it failed in committee. The Democrat from Broward County says his intent is not to remove tax protection from bona-fide agricultural land users. But he says the agricultural lobby in the legislature – fearing erosion of their own tax status – squashed the bill.