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Pennington County changes mind on farmland classification

RAPID CITY (AP) — The Pennington County Commission has revised criteria used to determine what properties are considered farmland.

Commissioners voted 3-2 this week to reverse a May decision that quadrupled the minimum acreage for qualifying for an agricultural tax break, from 40 acres to 160 acres.

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The commission set the higher standard last spring amid concerns that some people were exploiting the "agricultural" label to save money on taxes. But the tightening of the criteria drew the ire of rural property owners, particularly those with hobby-size farms.

The commission plans to continue to study the issue, and to press the Legislature for general changes to state law regarding the agricultural land classification.

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