Agricultural Exemptions

Under certain circumstances, property that is in commercial agricultural production may be exempt from the Cochise County Zoning Regulations and the Building Safety Code. In order to qualify for this exemption, the land must meet the definition of agricultural land included in Cochise County Zoning Regulations. Please email application to the Planning and Zoning Division

Definition

Agricultural land, for purposes of such exemptions, shall be defined as "a tract containing a minimum of five contiguous commercial acres which is being used for the production of farm, garden, or orchard crops, or the grazing or raising of farm animals, including feeding pens that are incidental and subordinate to a grazing operation." Examples of commodities produced include vegetables, fruit trees, grapes, cotton, grain, poultry, horses, cattle, sheep, and swine.

The term "general agriculture" includes such uses as the necessary treatment, packing, or storage of farm products produced on-premises, the sale of any farm crops or livestock raised on-premises, and any signs, structures, or fences utilized for agricultural functions." By statute, "general agriculture" includes dairy operations, including areas designated for raising heifers and bulls owned by the same dairy operation that is on property contiguous to the dairy operation or within one-quarter of a mile.

It does not include signs advertising off-premise facilities, junkyards, other retail sales, manufacturing, any non-agricultural services, stockyards, slaughterhouses/meatpacking plants, commercial pen feeding, production wineries, boneyards, plants for the reduction of animal matter, poultry feeding operations, agricultural processing plants, or the growing of marijuana. In addition, a reasonable operating profit must be possible in order to qualify for an agricultural exemption.

Applicant Eligibility

Applicants must demonstrate eligibility for an agricultural exemption by producing verifiable evidence of active commercial agricultural status. The following are examples of documents that are helpful in establishing that claim:

  • Brand inspection certificates
  • Business plan (for new operations)
  • IRS Form Schedule F, Profit and Loss Statement (or equivalent)
  • Livestock grazing plan
  • Sales invoices of agricultural products or livestock sold
  • Receipts for services rendered or items purchased relevant to the agricultural operation

Please note that agriculturally exempt properties are not exempt from Health Department requirements such as septic permits, and you may still be required to obtain right-of-way permits for County highway access, floodplain permits and manufactured home installation permits meeting state standards. or information on agricultural status for property tax purposes, please contact the County Assessor's Office.

Required Submittals

You must complete an agricultural exemption form and provide appropriate evidence for eligibility in order to be granted exempt status. Failure to provide adequate evidence of commercial activities shall subject the Applicant to zoning and building code regulations, permits, and fees, as applicable. Physical inspections may be conducted to substantiate the use as agricultural.

Please contact our department to obtain information on permitting requirements if proposing to install a septic or manufactured home/factory-built building/mobile home or other items that are not exempt.