The Farm, Forest and Open Space Act

Rhode Island's farms, forest and other open space provide many benefits to its citizens. Local farms ensure a readily available source of food close to metropolitan areas, while forestland and open space are key natural resources that provide recreational areas and contribute to the welfare and happiness of the state's inhabitants. Because of the economic pressure to convert these lands to development or another more profitable land use, Rhode Island's farms, forests and open spaces are rapidly disappearing. The Farm, Forest and Open Space Act helps citizens conserve these lands for themselves and for future generations.

Rhode Island law (Chapter 44-27) allows property enrolled in the Farm, Forest and Open Space Program to be assessed at its current use, not its value for development. The purpose of the law is not to reduce property taxes, but to conserve Rhode Island's productive agricultural and forest land by reducing the chance it will have to be sold for development.

The recommended current use assessment categories (see table below) are established by a Farm, Forest and Open Space Land Value Subcommittee formed by the Governor in 1999. The value assigned each class is based on the land's potential to produce a crop or soil limitations and is periodically updated to reflect changes in economic conditions.

Land Classifications for Property Enrolled in The Farm, Forest and Open Space Act:

  • Farmland: ornamental, vegetable and orchard crops, dairy and livestock (including forage crops);
  • Forestland & Wetland;
  • Open Space: Slight, moderate and severe soil limitations.

The law establishes three categories of land eligible for enrollment in the Program and authorizes DEM to establish regulations governing farm and forestland enrolled in the Program. The open space classification is administered by the community where the property is located.