For the second year in a row, BC farmers won’t have to worry about proving their properties are eligible for farm class status.
The province announced June 14 that all properties currently classed as farms with the BC Assessment Authority would continue to hold that status on the 2022 tax roll. The move extends a regulatory amendment last year designed to give small farms breathing room in the face of COVID-19.
“If the province had not taken action with a regulatory amendment last year, more than 400 farm properties with a history of sub-threshold income and many developing farms would have been at risk of losing their farm class for 2021,” this week’s announcement stated.
BC agriculture minister Lana Popham said waiving of the income requirement would let farms under development or with a history of low income “continue to focus on providing their amazing and delicious products we all enjoy.”
Provincial regulations require that properties of between 2 and 10 acres generate at least $2,500 to receive farm status. Smaller properties must generate revenues of $10,000 while larger properties must generate $2,500 plus 5% of the actual value of the farm property in excess of 10 acres.
The agency typically sends farm property owners income questionnaires each year. It also conducts intermittent inspections to determine whether certain properties should retain farm status for the upcoming tax year.
However, several farm property owners received their questionnaire for the coming year weeks before the provincial announcement. The deadline for responding was May 31.
BC Assessment explains that the information requests are “to help in determining how farms are recovering from pandemic impacts.”
The exemption does not apply to properties subject to a legal change, including a change in ownership or subdivision, according to the province, nor to any property with a change in use or where a lease is expiring.
In addition, new applications for farm class and retired farmer designations will be processed as usual by BC Assessment.
According to BC Assessment, there are 52,073 properties in the province classified as farms. The number is relatively stable from year to year, with approximately 200 applications for farm class status received each year.