Once again the Maui County Council has shown itself to be unclear on the concept.
The people support the reduced agricultural property tax rates as is for real functional full-time farms. What we object to are reduced taxes for gentlemen farmers - those people who have their million-dollar homes on formerly zoned ag land and, at best, sell the avocados or whatever from a couple of trees to a veggie stand and claim ag tax rates. And no, a couple of riding horses are not agriculture either.
We also object to former farmland that lays fallow for many years yet still receives the tax break. It should be taxed as unimproved residential/business property.
Don't make rocket science out of ag zoning, council members. It's very simple. Pass an ordinance that requires individuals claiming ag property tax rates to file a copy of their federal income tax Schedule F (farm income for individuals) or the corporate equivalent federal tax form once a year and demand that it reflects a real effort to make a living from agriculture.
Do what's right for real farmers, not what's right for your bucks-up campaign contributors.