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Working Lands Initiative

Summary

The Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative was signed into law in 2009 and is comprised of the following three programs:

Farmland Preservation Program
Agricultural Enterprise Area (AEA) Program
Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) Program

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FPP

The Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative provides participating landowners with an opportunity to claim farmland preservation tax credits. The tax credits are income tax credits that are applied against tax liability.
Tax credit amounts are:

$5.00 for farmers with a farmland preservation agreement signed after July 1, 2009 and located in an agricultural enterprise area
$7.50 for farmers in an area zoned for farmland preservation
$10.00 for farmers in an area zoned and certified for farmland preservation and in an agricultural enterprise area, with a farmland preservation agreement signed after July 1, 2009

Landowners must be residents of Wisconsin and must meet other eligibility criteria to claim the credit, including compliance with state soil and water conservation standards.

AEA

Local communities can voluntarily pursue designation of an “agricultural enterprise area” (AEA) by submitting a petition to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Through this designation, the community can encourage continued agricultural production and investment in the agricultural economy.

Farmers within designated AEAs are eligible to enter into voluntary Farmland Preservation agreements to collect the Farmland Preservation tax credits.

PACE

The Working Lands Program establishes a new program to provide up to 50% of the cost of purchasing agricultural conservation easements, including transaction costs. Through the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program, the state will provide funding to cooperating local governments or non-profit organizations to purchase easements from willing landowners. Land with an agricultural conservation easement cannot be developed for any purpose that would prevent its use for agriculture.