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Title §58.1-3230 of the Code of Virginia in conjunction with Albemarle County code sec. 15-714, provides for use-value assessment under four categories: real estate devoted to agricultural use, horticultural use, forest use and open space use.  Before use-value assessment is granted, the local assessing officer must determine that the land meets the uniform standards for agricultural or horticultural use as defined by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, for forest use as defined by the State Forester, or for open-space use by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Abbreviated definitions of the four categories of land use are as follows:

  1. 1. Agriculture Use: Land used for agricultural use must consist of a minimum of five acres and meet prescribed standards for a bona fide production for sale of crops and/or livestock o receive rent payments under a federal or state soil or water conservation program such as CRP or CREP.
  2. 2. Horticulture Use: Land used for horticulture use must consist of a minimum of five acres and must meet prescribed standards for bona fide production for sale of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and/or ornamental products. 
  3. 3. Forest Use: Land used for forestal use must be a minimum of twenty acres and must include standing timber and trees devoted to tree growth in such quantity and so spaced and maintained as to constitute a forest area.  Areas of forest less than 20 acres may qualify if the parcel is already qualified under an agricultural or horticultural use.
  4. 4. Open Space: Land in open space must be at least twenty acres (Albemarle County specific), and be used to provide or preserve the land for park or recreational purposes, conservation of land or other natural resources, floodways, historic or scenic purposes or to assist in the shaping of the character, direction, or timing of community development, or for the public interest and consistent with the local land use plan.  

Application Process

 A property owner must submit an application for taxation on the basis of use assessment at least within thirty days after receiving a notice of assessment.  Albemarle County charges an application fee of $125 per parcel.  In order to qualify a property owner must certify on the application that the property meets the standards of classification prescribed by the Commissioner of Agriculture, the State Forester, or the Director of Conservation and Recreation.  The County Assessor will then confirm that the use is taking place on the property and that the use meets the program requirements.

Anyone receiving use value taxation must submit a new application whenever a change in acreage or a change in qualified occurs.  A change in use from one qualified use to another, such as agriculture to open space, must be made through an application; however, such applications made to change the use require no application fee.

Land use guidelines provide that the following items may be requested in determining eligibility for land use:

  1.      The assigned USDA/ASCS farm number.
  2.      Federal tax forms (1040F) Farm Expenses and Income, (4835) Farm Rental Income and Expenses, or (1040E) Cash rent for Agricultural land.
  3.      A conservation Farm Management and/or Forest Management plan prepared by a professional or a letter of intent stating that the land will be forested.
  4.    Evidence of gross sales of at least $1,000 annually for agriculture and horticulture.  (this requirement does not apply to forestry since harvesting typically would occur much more seldom) 

QUALIFICATIONS: AGRICULTURAL & HORTICULTURAL USE

  • Requires a minimum of five acres under production.  
  • A qualified use must be established before an application can be approved.  The use must be shown to be able to support the $1,000 minimum gross sales or value.
  • A qualified agricultural livestock use must also meet the minimum number of animals per five acres as defined in the SLEAC manual.
  • Horticultural crops must be produced for commercial use to qualify for land use taxation.
  • To qualify for agricultural or horticultural use, the applicant shall certify that the real estate is being used in a planned program of management, production, and sale or trade of field crops, livestock, livestock products, poultry, poultry products, dairy, dairy products, aquacultural products, or horticultural products.
  • Horses may qualify only if they are being used for a breeding or boarding business.  Horses maintained exclusively for recreational purposes do not qualify the land.
  • Land under structures used in the qualified uses such as barns, sheds, etc will be included as the qualified use.
  • Parcels with dwelling(s) will have an appropriately sized unqualified homesite of a minimum of 1 acre each.  Larger homesites will be assessed where more area is used to support the home, supporting structures, driveway, and landscaping. 

QUALIFICATIONS: FORESTAL USE

  • Requires a minimum of 20 or more acres exclusively devoted to forestal use.  Forestal participants are required to provide a forest management plan prepared by a forestry professional or certify through a signed owner’s commitment that the property is being used in a planned program of timber management and soil conservation practices. 

 QUALIFICATIONS: OPEN SPACE USE

Requires a minimum of 20 acres which are used to provide or preserve the land for park or recreational purposes, conservation of land or other natural resources, floodways, historic or scenic purposes or to assist in the shaping of the character, direction, or timing of community development, or for the public interest and consistent with the local land use plan. This category does not refer to open, unused land. To qualify for open space a property must:

a.      be under an Open Space Use Agreement (OSUA) for a period of 4 to 10 years, or

b.      be under a perpetual conservation easement, or

c.       be a part of an Agricultural and Forestal District.

  * The Manual of the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council, published by the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council, Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia can be found on the County Assessor’s Web Page.


For more information about the Land Use Value Taxation program, please call the County Assessor’s Office at (434)296-5856. >> Click here to download Land Use Application