Michigan ranks third in the nation for timber production. The 20 million acres of forest cover in Michigan supports more than 125,000 timber and wood products jobs and generates more than $17 billion to Michigan’s economy each year and is projected to increase in the coming years. In an effort to fuel regional economies through timber harvesting and individual tax savings, the Michigan Department of Agriculture implemented the Qualified Forest program (QFP) in 2014. Landowners who actively manage their forests for commercial harvest are provided a property tax exemption. The program provides two potential tax benefits for enrolled landowners. First, a maximum 18 mill reduction of school operating taxes on non-homestead property with the qualified forest school tax affidavit. Second, a qualified forest taxable value affidavit prevents the “uncapping” of a property’s taxable value when a parcel currently enrolled in QFP changes ownership.
In 2014 Michigan enrolled a total of 74,544 acres into the QFP program. That number is up from the previous year, where Michigan enrolled 51,519 acres into the program. These numbers combined with parcels enrolled in previous versions of the program bring the total acres enrolled to 223,167. With these numbers increasing annually, MIDNR hopes to boost the states forest products industry currently valued at $16 billion annually to $20 billion over the next five years.
To qualify for QFP, parcels must be 20 acres or larger. Parcels 20-39 acres in size must be at least 80 percent stocked with forest capable of producing wood products. Parcels 40-640 acres in size must be 50 percent stocked with forest capable of producing wood products. Additionally, all QFP applications must have a written forest management plan developed by a Qualified Forester. Application instructions as well as a directory of Qualified Foresters can be found on the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development site at www.michigan.gov/qfp. You can also contact your local conservation district to determine if they can assist you.