Rural Property Classification Review

For the 2019 assessment year, the Linn County Assessor’s Office is reviewing the classification for all rural property. Please complete this questionnaire to assist us in determining the proper classification for your property.  

The Iowa Administrative Code – 701-71.1 (3) states as follows:

Agricultural Real Estate shall include all tracts of land and the improvements and structures located on them which are in good faith used primarily for agricultural purposes, except buildings which are primarily used or intended for human habitation as defined in sub rule 71.1 (4). Land and nonresidential improvements and structures located upon it shall be considered to be used primarily for agricultural purposes if its principal use is devoted to the raising and harvesting of crops or forest or fruit trees, the rearing, feeding and management of livestock, or horticulture, all for intended profit.

There are three key phrases in the above rule to use as a test to determine if a property qualifies for an agricultural classification: 

  • Principal or Primary Use
  • Used in good faith for agricultural purposes
  • For intended profit
Generally, at least over one half of the parcel should be farmed to meet the “primary use” test. There may be rare exceptions to this where the farming is intensive on less than half the parcel. An example would be a small parcel that has a residence and a confinement feeding facility. A confinement feeding operation could be the primary use of the property even though it uses less than half the parcel if it’s a good faith operation and there are enough animals that the operator could reasonably anticipate a profit. 

The farming operation must be a “good faith used primarily for agricultural purposes.”  Two cows and a horse on pasture, for example, would not be sufficient where the parcel is also the site of a residential dwelling. This would be true regardless of the size of the parcel. It would fail the “primary use” test. 

Small parcels operated in conjunction with other agricultural parcels may qualify as agricultural even if it is used for storage of grain and machinery. The distance is unimportant as long as the property owner is in good faith using the site for the agricultural enterprise and the enterprise included other farmland. 

At one time, Iowa law set a 10 acre minimum for the definition of a farm, but that has since been repealed. A directive from the Iowa Department of Revenue was sent to all assessors in 2017, stating that Assessors must no longer use the 10 acre minimum to classify property. Linn County used the 10 acre minimum, which led to some agricultural property being misclassified as residential, and some residential property be misclassified as agricultural. Even if the parcel is 40 acres, has a dwelling, and no significant agricultural activity, its primary use is residential. If the parcel has enough trees, however, it may qualify for a forest reservation exemption on those acres. 

Return Questionnaire to Us


You may send your completed questionnaire or forest reservation exemption application to the Linn County Assessor's Office by mail, fax, email, or delivered in person at our office. Our office hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Our address is:

Linn County Assessor
935 2nd Street SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 

Fax: 319-892-5239

Thank you for your time and prompt response. If you have questions, please call our office at 319-892-5220.