Promote Greenbelt Designation as a Way for Farmers to Save on Property Taxes, by Valuing Their Land Based on Agricultural Production Rather than Market Value

Who can implement this: State, county, and city lawmakers; advocacy organizations; and agricultural producers

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The Utah Farmland Assessment Act allows Utah farmers and ranchers to have their agricultural property assessed and taxed based on its capability for productivity instead of real-estate market values. [1]

The Utah State Tax Commission works with other committees and Utah State University to establish values for productivity that are applied statewide, setting terms of value per acre for different land classifications. Each qualifying parcel of property is classified upon application according to its existing features and the kind of agriculture being cultivated on it. This classification process gives the land a new value to be assessed and taxed on.

Greenbelt designation is meant to more accurately reflect the true value of agricultural land and operations and lower tax rates to dissuade landowners from selling agricultural land to residential developers. As a result, greenbelt designation could improve both the economic viability of farming operations and the preservation of existing farmlands in Utah County.

Greenbelt areas are also part of the county’s heritage and can make communities more desirable and livable. These areas provide green, open spaces, which could improve air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect.

Greenbelt applications must be obtained from the Utah County Farmland Assessor. In order to currently qualify for greenbelt designation, a parcel of land must: 

  1. Be at least five contiguous acres,
  2. Have been actively devoted to agricultural use for at least two years,
  3. Be managed in a way that there is expectation of profit,
  4. Meet average annual production requirements (at least 50% of the county average for production per acre).

Applications must be submitted by May 1st of the tax year. The resulting assessment is valid unless the landowner fills out another application withdrawing from the greenbelt designation.

State and local lawmakers should work with farm organizations to better understand what is expected of a landowner applying for greenbelt designation and to explore ways to streamline the application process.


  • The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food should better inform farmers and ranchers on the benefits of greenbelt property value designation. Though the greenbelt system has significant benefits, landowners must be aware of the program and must individually apply for greenbelt designation, meaning some may miss the opportunity if they do not know it exists.
  • It is recommended that state and county legislators seek to expand the Urban Farming Assessment Act. This act should be expanded so that it specifically applies to Utah County, as it is to Salt Lake County. Expanding the act might also allow for more unconventional forms of agriculture, possibly including indoor agriculture.
  • Producers on smaller lots should utilize the Urban Farming Assessment Act where applicable. The act allows active agriculturally producing parcels of land between 2–4.99 acres in size to be taxed similarly to greenbelt-qualified properties, lowering property taxes from market rate to more reasonable costs.


The Utah Farmland Assessment Act was created to specifically assist farmers and ranchers preserve their agricultural lands near expanding urban areas across the state. Individual county assessors are responsible for assessing land within their jurisdiction, and the Utah County Assessor’s Office has a dedicated farmland assessor who oversees the countywide implementation of the Utah Farmland Assessment Act.