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Alabama 2003 Survey of Rural Land Issues College of Agriculture Auburn University.

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1 Alabama 2003 Survey of Rural Land Issues College of Agriculture Auburn University

2 Survey Questions What are the attitudes of Alabamians regarding rural land use in Alabama: A. Ownership and motivations for purchase B. Perceived economic value C. Acceptable rural land uses D. Maintenance and protection E. Perceived roles of ACES and AAES

3 Methodology  Statewide telephone study conducted by the Auburn University Center for Governmental Services during May 2003  Randomly selected sample of 462 Alabama households  Margin of error is +/- 5%

4 Sample Characteristics  Sample corresponded relatively well to the composition of adult Alabamians, particularly with respect to race, age, and employment status.  10.6% of sample earn some income through agricultural activity.  24.0% of sample live in unincorporated communities.

5 SurveyFindings

6 A. Rural Land Ownership: Survey Questions  Current land ownership and likelihood to make future rural land purchases.  Motivations for past and future purchases of rural land

7 A-1. Rural Land Ownership  42.8% of the sample currently own rural land in Alabama.  21.7% have made at least one rural land purchase during the past decade.  38.7% indicate being somewhat or very likely to purchase rural land in the future.  Current rural land owners were more likely to express an interest in future purchases (48.2%) than non-rural landowners (31.6%).

8 A-2. Rural Land Ownership  Most have purchased rural land in the past to use for current or retirement residences, or as investments.  Fewer respondents have purchased rural land for occupational or recreational uses.  Reasons cited for future purchases were similar to those of past purchases – for residences or investments.

9 Motivations for Past & Future Purchases of Rural Land

10 B. Perceived Economic Value of Rural Land: Survey Questions  Perceptions of current versus “fair” annual taxes on rural land.  Attitudes toward the consideration of rural land usage in establishing tax rates.  Attitudes toward maintaining low rural property tax rates.

11 B-1.Perceived Economic Value Estimates of Current versus Fair Annual Taxes on Rural Land

12 3.90%24.3%28.3%Don’t Know 7.20%10.7%17.8%More than $20 per acre -0.90%10.7%9.8%$10 to $20 per acre -4.80$23.9%19.1%$5 to $10 per acre -2.80%19.3%16.5%$2 to $4 per acre -2.60%11.1%8.5%$0 to $2 per acre Difference Perceptions of a Fair Tax Rate Estimated Current Tax on Rural Land Amount

13 B-2. Perceived Economic Value  76.7% believe that Alabama’s rural land should be taxed on its current use, and not on the land’s future potential value.  Most respondents report that Alabama’s rural property taxes should be equal to (52.8%) or lower than (27.2%) taxes in neighboring states.

14 B-3. Perceived Economic Value  Respondents were somewhat divided about how taxes on active farmland should compare to taxes on forestland.

15 B-4. Perceived Economic Value  Opinions about the percentage of Alabama land covered by woodland or forest were also varied.

16 B-5. Perceived Economic Value  Participants rated their level of agreement with the statement: Alabama counties should maintain a relatively low property tax rate on rural land, even if it means having to raise sales taxes or other taxes.  40% agreed or strongly agreed  50% disagreed or strongly disagreed

17 C. Rural Land Usage: Survey Questions  What types of rural land uses are personally acceptable to Alabamians in their own counties?  Attitudes toward the development of rural land for economic benefit versus land preservation.

18 C-1. Rural Land Usage  Respondents indicated whether or not each of 11 land uses would be acceptable:

19 C-2. Rural Land Usage  Participants chose 1 of 3 statements reflecting personal philosophies toward rural land use:  We should attempt to use it for its maximum economic benefit (7.6%)  We should discourage development and convert as much rural land to natural areas as possible (12.8%)  We should attempt to balance the use of rural land for both economic benefit and preservation of natural areas (76.7%)

20 D. Maintenance & Protection: Survey Questions  Attitudes toward government involvement in the maintenance and protection of Alabama’s rural land.  How do Alabamians view the role of government, balanced with the rights and responsibilities of landowners?

21 D-1. Maintenance & Protection  56.1% agreed that rural landowners should be awarded government subsidies to maintain land in its natural state.  61.3% agreed that more rural land should be put into protected state or national forests.

22 D-2. Maintenance & Protection Rural landowners have a civic and moral responsibility to respect their property Landowners should have complete control of their rural land holdings Unregulated housing in rural areas can seriously degrade the landscape Rural property owners should not be required to improve or maintain the value of their property

23 D-2. Maintenance & Protection Zoning on rural land infringes on the basic rights of property owners Government assistance should be provided to preserve farmland A rural landowner should be able to continue an activity, even if it offends a neighbor

24 E. Perceived Roles of ACES & AAES: Survey Questions  Do Alabamians perceive that the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Agricultural Experiment Stations be doing more, less, or the same amount of work across a variety of rural land activities?

25 E-1. Perceived Roles of ACES & AAES  Few respondents indicated that ACES and AAES should be doing less in any activity area.  The greatest perceived needs for increased assistance were in the areas of conservation (65.7%), rural planning projects (63.0%), and improving row crop agriculture (62.6%).

26 Summary  Among rural landowners, property was purchased primarily for residences, retirement, or investment.  Most Alabamians believe that rural land should be taxed on the basis of its current value, not on the land’s potential future value.  Compared to tax rates in neighboring states, most feel that Alabama’s rural property tax rates should be comparable or lower.

27 Summary  Alabamians strongly believe that rural landowners have a civic and moral responsibility to respect and conserve their property.  Alabamians favor landowners having complete control over their rural property.  The greatest perceived needs from ACES and AAES were in the areas of conservation, rural planning, and improving row-crop agriculture.

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