Farm and Agricultural Land

Link to Online Documents:

Program Benefit

As a way to encourage landowners to use open space for the growing of food, landowners may choose to have their land designated as farm and agricultural land. This designation allows property valued at their current use rather than at their highest and best use. This results in a lower assessed value and lower taxes. 

Current Use Farm and Agricultural Land may be subject to additional tax, interest, and penalty if the land is removed from the program. 

Qualifying Definition

Current Use Farm & Agricultural Land is defined in RCW 84.34.020(2) & Open Space Taxation Act(page 2).

Farm and agricultural land is defined as any of the following:

  1. Any parcel of land that is 20 or more acres, or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total 20 or more acres, and are:
    • Devoted primarily to the production of livestock or agricultural commodities for commercial purposes.
    • Enrolled in the federal conservation reserve program (CRP) or its successor administered by the United States Department of Agriculture.
  2. Any parcel of land that is five acres or more but less than 20 acres, is devoted primarily to agricultural uses, and has produced a gross income equivalent to:
    • Prior to January 1, 1993: $100 or more per acre per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification.
    • On or after January 1, 1993: $200 or more per acre per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification.
  3. Any parcel of land less than five acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses and has produced a gross income of:
    • Prior to January 1, 1993: $1,000 or more per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification.
    • On or after January 1, 1993: $1,500 or more per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification.
  4. “Farm and agricultural land” also includes any of the following:
    • Incidental uses compatible with agricultural purposes, including wetland preservation, provided such use does not exceed 20 percent of the classified land.
    • Land on which appurtenances necessary for production, preparation, or sale of agricultural products exist in conjunction with the lands producing such products.
    • Any non-contiguous parcel one to five acres that is an integral part of the farming operations.
    • Land on which housing for employees or the principal place of residence of the farm operator or owner is sited provided the use of the housing or residence is integral to the use of the classified land for agricultural purposes, the housing or residence is on or contiguous to the classified land, and the classified land is 20 or more acres.
    • Land that is used primarily for equestrian-related activities for which a charge is made, including, but not limited to, stabling, training, riding, clinics, schooling, shows, or grazing for feed. Depending on the number of classified acres, the land may be subject to minimum gross income requirements.
    • Land that is primarily used for commercial horticultural purposes, including growing seedlings, trees, shrubs, vines, fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and other plants in containers, whether under a structure or not.  
Application Process
Application FeeThe fee for application or reclassification is $550. The fee is non-refundable. Please include the fee with your application or reclassification and make the check payable to "San Juan County Treasurer".

Who may Apply?
An owner or contract purchaser may apply for current use assessment. However, all owners or contract purchaser must sign the application for classification, and any resulting agreement.

When to Apply?
Applications may be made for classification at any time during the year from January 1 through December 31. The Farm Management Plan and application fee must be included with the application. If approved, current use assessment will begin on January 1 following the year the application was submitted.

Example: Apply by December 31, 2021 for valuation during the 2022 assessment year in order to receive property tax reduction in 2023.

Time-Line for Approval or Denial
The application is considered approved unless the Assessor notifies the applicant in writing prior to May 1st of the year following the year the application was submitted. Within 10 days following approval of the application, the Assessor shall submit notification of such approval to the Auditor for public recording of the tax liens on real property.

Applications and Farm Management Plan

The Farm Management Plan requires that the owner(s) provide proof of present agriculture farm income for at least 3 of the past 5 year. Documentation includes, but not limited to: IRS 1040 Schedule F, receipts, lease agreements, expense, government payments and subsidies. 

The Farm Management Plan shall become a binding part of the application or continuance and shall contain all required elements listed in the San Juan County Farm Management Plan Requirements. Nonperformance to reasonably carry out the Farm Management Plan shall be considered failure to meet the requirements of the Farm and Agricultural program and may result in withdrawal of the land from classification.

Reclassification of Land from Farm & Ag to Designated Forest Land (DFL)
In the event farm and agricultural land status is removed by the Assessor and the land owner wishes to reclassify as Designated Forest Land (DFL), the application must be submitted within 30 days from the date of removal from farm and agricultural land status.

Application: Change of Classification  64 0060 (Download, Fill-in)

Attachments:  Rev 62 0021 or Rev 62 0110 , Forest Management Plan

The Assessor may require an owner of classified land to submit data regarding the use of the land, productivity of typical crops, income and expense data, and similar information regarding continued eligibility.

Where do I file the application?

Hand DeliverMailE-mail
350 Court Street
Friday Harbor, WA
San Juan County Assessor
PO Box 1519
Friday Harbor, WA  98250