Farmland Preservation Program/Working Lands Initiative

The Wisconsin Farmland Preservation Program/Working Lands Initiative identifies and protects agricultural areas against unplanned development. The program is designed to preserve agricultural land and open spaces by promoting orderly land use planning and development, by promoting soil and water conservation, in turn providing tax relief to landowners in the program.

The Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative is included as part of the 2009-2011 state budget signed into law by Governor Doyle on June 29, 2009. Three main components of the program include updates to the state's current Farmland Preservation Program, the ability for farmers and local governments to establish voluntary Agricultural Enterprise Areas, and a state program to help with the purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements.   Learn more about the 2023 legislative changes to the Farmland Preservation Program in the Legislative Updates to the Farmland Preservation Program Document.

County Farmland Preservation Plan Update Due December 2024
Draft Polk County Farmland Preservation Plan COMING SOON

Stakeholder Meetings January 30th, 2024
Farmland Preservation Plan Stakeholder Meeting Presentation 
Land Evaluation Site Assessment (LESA) Mapping


Agriculture Stakeholder Meeting Materials
Flyer Agriculture Stakeholder Meeting
Agenda - Agriculture Stakeholder Meeting - 01-30-24

Town Representative Stakeholder Meeting Materials 
Flyer Town Representative Stakeholder Meeting
Agenda - Town Representative Stakeholder Meeting - 01-30-24

Additional Plan Update Documents
What is a Farmland Preservation Plan?

Farmland Preservation Zoning
In Polk County, McKinley, Bone Lake, and Alden are the only municipalities containing Farmland Preservation Zoning.  Due to the absence of Polk County Zoning Ordinance certification, program eligibility through zoning is not available at this time.

Agricultural Enterprise Area (AEA)
In January of 2011 9,741 acres in southern Polk County near Cedar Lake was designated as an Agriculture Enterprise Area.  The Apple Lake Agricultural Enterprise Area (see AEA website) allows eligible landowners within the boundaries of the Agriculture Enterprise Area to voluntarily apply for a 15 year farmland preservation agreement.  In addition to a tax credit, Agricultural Enterprise Areas provide the following benefits to landowners:

  • Ability to maintain large areas of contiguous land primarily for agricultural use
  • Encourage farmers and local governments to invest in agriculture
  • Encourage compliance with state soil and water conservation standards

Farmland Preservation Agreement
An agreement is a contract between a farmland owner and the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection. The landowner agrees to maintain the farmland in agricultural use. Fifteen year agreements are only available to those within an Agricultural Enterprise Area.

Tax Credits
The Farmland Preservation Program 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:
$10 per acre for qualifying acres that are in a farmland preservation zoning district but are not subject to a farmland preservation agreement.
$10 per acre for qualifying acres that are subject to a farmland preservation agreement in an AEA but are not located in a farmland preservation zoning district, OR qualifying acres that are subject to a farmland preservation agreement signed before July 1, 2009 that has been modified to meet current eligibility requirements.
$12.50 per acre for qualifying acres that are in a farmland preservation zoning district and subject to a farmland preservation agreement in an AEA or a farmland preservation agreement signed before July 1, 2009 that has been modified to meet current eligibility requirements.