Highlands County Citrus Growers Association has been working with its County Appraiser’s office to set up a system so as not to penalize growers who remove blocks of trees as part of the Citrus Health Response Plan (CHRP). HCCGA Executive Ray Royce shares the wording of the local rule as it presently stands:
HIGHLANDS COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER POLICY FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF CITRUS GROVES AND CITRUS LANDS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE CITRUS HEALTH RESPONSE PROGRAM
Following is the policy for the Highlands County Property Appraisers Office regarding the assessment procedures for the appraisal of citrus groves and citrus lands under the Citrus Health Response Program which is defined in 5B-63.001 of the Florida Administrative Code. This office acknowledges the CHRP as the successor program to the Citrus Canker Eradication Program in accordance with correspondence from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services letter dated March 3, 2009.
CHRP ASSESSMENT POLICY:
1) All land owners requesting the de minimis value of $50 per acre under Section 193.461(7), Florida Statutes must notify the Property Appraiser of such action. The land owner must submit a copy of the most recent Citrus Grower/Caretaker Compliance Agreement DACS-08316 to the Property Appraiser with the request for the reduction in value. The land owner must also provide complete information pertaining to the location, description and size of the property affected by disease and actions taken to destroy the infected trees along with the most current compliance agreement. Upon receipt of the above, the Property Appraiser may perform a field inspection of the property to ensure the said grove has been destroyed as outlined in the CHRP.
2) Any land owner receiving the de minimis value must submit and updated compliance agreement from the Department of Agriculture to the Property Appraiser on an annual basis to document the continued compliance with the CHRP guidelines as determined by the Florida Department of Agriculture.
3) All citrus groves which have been pushed or solid ( or have no trees remaining) must be kept fallow and clean from all citrus foliage or sprouts from old stumps that could harbor and contribute to the spread of citrus disease in order to remain in compliance with the CHRP guidelines and remain eligible for the de minimis value.
4) Abandoned groves in which the agricultural classification has been removed by the Property Appraiser for non use in prior years may apply for the de minimis value only if they have followed the practices outlined by the CHRP guidelines by destroying the entire grove. Property described in this paragraph will require a new application for ag-classification after the trees have been destroyed on or before January 1 of that year.
5) Currently producing groves that are being taken care of and being harvested may receive the de minimis value for those areas of the grove destroyed due to disease. The area of a producing grove that is removed due to compliance with the CHRP guidelines may receive the $50 per acre value. The owner must notify the Property Appraiser of the number of trees destroyed and the specific location of the grove affected.
6) The land owner bears the responsibility of notifying the Property Appraiser’s Office when the trees are replanted in skip or pushed areas of producing groves as outlined in paragraph (5) of this policy. The land owner should immediately notify the Property Appraiser upon replanting those areas of the grove that have been destroyed due to citrus disease. Upon notification to the Property Appraiser citrus land values will be restored to those sections of the groves where the trees have been replanted. If the land owner does not notify the Property Appraiser when trees are replanted in the areas of the grove receiving the de minimis value, the Property Appraiser may back assess with penalties for up to three years in which the replacement trees were not reported.
7) Any current ag-classified property owner who decides to destroy the entire grove due to infestation of disease must notify the Property Appraiser of the location along with the most recent copy of the DACS compliance agreement and the de minimis value shall be applied to the land upon inspection by this office that the grove has been destroyed.
8) The $50 de minimis value assessment is only in effect so long as the land remains fallow. If at any time the land is converted to another use or replanted in citrus the de minimis value will be removed from the property and the applicable value will be established by the Property Appraiser at that time.
9) If upon inspection the Property Appraiser finds the grove has not been kept in compliance with the Florida Department of Agriculture standards under the CHRP guidelines the Property Appraiser will notify the land owner of the potential removal of the property from the ag-classification status and all greenbelt value will be removed and value changed to market value.
10) The above policies and procedures are only valid and in effect for the period of time in which the Citrus Health Response Program is in existence. Should the CHRP program be discontinued by the State of Florida all properties mentioned above would have values changed from the $50 per acre assessment to the applicable value based on the use at that time.
The above policy is adopted by the Highlands County Property Appraiser on the 9th day of March, 2009.
Note: Original document signed by Honorable C. Raymond McIntyre and filed in the Highlands County Property Appraiser’s Office.
For questions or concerns you may contact the following:
Tom Andrews (863) 402-6866
Kenny Hinote (863) 402-6667
Katie Nolen (863) 402-6683 email:firstname.lastname@example.org