State of New Jersey
Executive Order #109

Governor James J. Florio

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Farmland Assessment program was created by the voters through a constitutional amendment in 1963 to reduce the economic impact of local property taxes on farming activities in New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, the Legislature enacted the Farmland Assessment Act of 1964 to implement and administer this constitutional provision; and

WHEREAS, these actions were prompted by a concern that the economic viability of the farming community, especially family-owned and family-operated farms, could be threatened by rapidly rising property taxes; and

WHEREAS, agriculture is a unique industry that contributes income, employment, economic diversity and environmental benefits to improve the quality of life experienced by New Jersey citizens; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey farms rank in the top ten states nationally in production of cranberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes and nursery plants, and over eight thousand farms covering more than one million acres produce over 150 different JERSEY FRESH products, which are distributed to feed millions throughout the nation and worldwide; and

WHEREAS, the Farmland Assessment program has enormous importance for the State's economy and environment, since approximately one-quarter of all land in New Jersey has qualified for property tax treatment pursuant to this program; and

WHEREAS, the Farmland Assessment program has provided an economic benefit to landowners of land on which farming occurs, and provided financial incentives for the continuation of these farming operations; and

WHEREAS, the Farmland Assessment program, by exempting qualifying farmlands from normal property taxation rates, has altered the property tax base of New Jersey municipalities, while at the same time limiting the growth in demand for certain municipal services and infrastructure that could be triggered by increased development; and

WHEREAS, almost thirty years have passed since the establishment of the Farmland Assessment program, a periodic review is needed to quantify and evaluate the uniformity, consistency and effectiveness in the interpretation, application and administration of Farmland Assessment requirements and procedures, and the overall impacts of this program on the State's economy and environment;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JAMES J. FLORIO, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the New Jersey Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

l. The creation of the Task Force for the Review of the Farmland Assessment Program (hereinafter "Task Force") to conduct a comprehensive review of the Farmland Assessment program. This Task Force shall perform the following tasks:

a. The Task Force shall gather financial and technical information on the Farmland Assessment program and quantify and analyze the effectiveness and impacts of the program. In particular, the Task Force shall study the following program impacts:

i. the economic impact in strengthening the viability and continued existence of the farming community in New Jersey, including shifts in farmland ownership patterns and farming practices;

ii. the financial impact of the program on the property tax base of New Jersey municipalities, including an analysis of both the program's effect on property tax revenues available to municipalities and the demand for municipal services and infrastructure that would otherwise result from more intensive development;

b. The Task Force shall identify possible options for revising requirements to qualify land for farmland assessment, and analyze the effectiveness and impacts of each option;

c. The Task Force shall evaluate the State, county and municipal administration of the program, and identify possible options for improving the administration of the program.

2. The Task Force, which shall be chaired by an individual selected by the Governor from among the public members, shall be constituted as follows:

a. the Secretary of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, or his designee;

b. the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey, or his designee;

c. the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, or her designee;

d. the President of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture, or the Vice President, if so designated by the President;

e. the President of the New Jersey Farm Bureau;

f. ten public members to be appointed by the Governor who shall broadly reflect an experience and interest in agriculture, taxation, environment, county and local government, economic development and such other areas which are appropriate to the work of the Task Force, provided, however, that at least five such members shall be individuals currently owning and/or operating a New Jersey farm.

3. The Department of Agriculture, the Treasury Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and all other State departments and agencies are hereby directed to cooperate with the Task Force and to furnish it with any information, staffing support or other assistance as necessary to accomplish the purposes of this Order.

4. The Task Force shall provide a report of its analysis to the Governor no later than May 1, 1994.

5. This Order shall take effect immediately.

GIVEN, under my hand and seal this
25th day of October in the Year of Our
Lord, one thousand nine hundred and
ninety-three, and of the Independence
of the United States, the two hundred
and eighteenth.

/s/ James Florio


/s/ Scott A. Weiner
Chief Counsel to the Governor