Polk County Seeks to Update Farmland Preservation Plan

With recent legislation to increase program tax credits, the plan update comes with new criteria to identify the most valuable farmland for preservation.

POLK COUNTY, Wisconsin, February, 23, 2024— Polk County is currently in the process of updating its Farmland Preservation Plan.

Using objective data, the Farmland Preservation Plan identifies suitable agricultural areas of the county for protection against unplanned development. Eligible property owners within the identified areas can voluntarily participate in the plan, where they receive income tax credits on the acreage enrolled, in exchange for keeping their property in farming and adhering to farming practice requirements.

The most recent update to the plan was done in 2014, and updates happen every decade.

“This update will include the new updated and increased tax credits, and will also have new criteria for identifying prime farmland for preservation versus the old plan, based on stakeholder feedback,” said Tim Anderson, County Planner.

Farmland preservation is vital for counties like Polk because once the land is lost, opportunity for the business is gone—unlike other forms of economic development.

“Agriculture is a significant economic driver for Polk County,” said Eric Wojchik, County Conservationist. “Our previous plan was too inclusive, and our new plan will be more selective in its approach and preservation areas.”

The Farmland Preservation Plan is one component of the Farmland Preservation Program, which is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Once a county farmland preservation plan is certified, it also establishes the opportunity to designate an Agricultural Enterprise Area (AEA) and / or certify a farmland preservation zoning district, further protecting valuable farmland from development.

To learn more about the Farmland Preservation Plan and to view planning materials, please visit the Polk County website at https://www.polkcountywi.gov/farmlandpreservation