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Family Farm for 378 Years. For Sale now.

by James Denison / August 1, 2010 3:50 PM PDT

All good things come to an end? Ending of an era? Sign of the times? Hard to find cheap labor?


In 1632, John Tuttle arrived from England to a settlement near the Maine-New Hampshire border, using a small land grant from King Charles I to start a farm. John Tuttle was shipwrecked off the Maine coast before arriving at his land grant, which boasted a mature stand of white pine trees. He cut them down and farmed around the stumps, starting what would become 250 years' worth of subsistence farming by Tuttles.

Eleven generations and 378 years later, his field-weary descendants -- arthritic from picking fruits and vegetables and battered by competition from supermarkets and pick-it-yourself farms -- are selling their spread, which is among the oldest continuously operated family farms in America.

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It's a damn' shame, but certainly understandable.
by Ziks511 / August 3, 2010 2:26 AM PDT

Their continuity is a triumph.


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something I noted
by James Denison / August 3, 2010 3:48 AM PDT

They must be under a conservation restriction, imposed by local taxing authorities, so the land is less valuable to them than it otherwise might have been on a sale. They have that in Maryland where instead of keeping a proper agricultural tax on farmland, if the state, who thinks in truth they really own the land it seems, worries someone might pay ONLY agricultural taxes on land which they can later sell for a large sum as development reaches the farm, instead they have added taxation to try and force them off the land so it will find a "higher and better use" which provides the state more money, or onto a "conservation" situation in which they basically sign away any rights to make a large sum in selling it for that "higher and better use".

There's other tricks used to deprive property owners of these older farms from the gain they otherwise would have had. One is right near me, where they used eminent domain to take farmland around an interchange on what had been old 301, which then had I-97 be designated and overpasses and exits installed, then the excess land they'd taken was sold at a high profit to a large commercial development where a Super Walmart, Sam's Club, Kohler's, Lowe's, and other major business now is. The state reaped the rewards of that, not the landowners who had to settle for what it was worth before the interchange was placed there.

There should be legal controls set in place that requires any such selling of land taken in eminent domain, if resold by state to commercial enterprise within a certain period of years, maybe 10 or 20, to revert all extra funds received above that which was originally paid to those forced off the land, to the previous owners.

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Here's what I mentioned.
by James Denison / August 3, 2010 3:58 AM PDT

It's a situation where they raise taxes on the land to the point the only relief for the farmer is to take the deal which robs him of future development rights on the property, or be forced out of farming because of the increasing tax load beyond the ability of the land when used exclusively for crops. Basically it makes a farm no longer a farm for tax purposes. The state giveth back what is yours on one hand, through tax breaks, so it may take the future that is also yours on the other hand. Fairness however would maintain ONLY a set per acre tax on agricultural land, but states are wanting a piece of the development action later down the line.


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by James Denison / August 3, 2010 4:23 AM PDT

What they fail to point out is the overriding pressure to develop is Maryland's devised taxation formula on agricultural land in the first place! If states were really interested in maintaining land for farms and forest they'd only tax residential and commercial areas and depend solely on a farm income tax for the rest, and not tax woodlands and agricultural lands at all or beyond a token per acre tax based on the cheapest crop such as hay that might be grown on the land, or pulp sale value based on years growth to create such for woodland. Yes, it's a voluntary program in the same way you can volunteer your wallet to the person holding the club that will hit you if you don't volunteer it.


Maryland was the first State in the nation to formally adopt a policy providing for lower assessments (and property taxes) on land that is actively devoted to farm or woodland uses. The "agricultural use assessment" is granted to farm land or woodland that meets the criteria outlined in State Law. This special assessment means that the land is appraised according to its current use and not according to its actual market value which, in many instances, could be significantly higher. The result is that the owner of land receiving the lower "agricultural use assessment" pays less property taxes and there is less pressure to convert the land to more intensive uses.

The use assessment serves to remove some of the developmental pressure on the land by holding down the property tax burden. The agricultural transfer tax serves a dual role-first as a deterrent to conversion of the land and second as a penalty when the land is sold for development. Finally, the Agricultural Land Preservation Program receives its funding from the agricultural transfer tax and these funds are used to purchase easements on existing farms thus guaranteeing the land will not be developed.

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