In addition to house-hunting veterans and marginal farm families unable to or not choosing to adjust to the demands of postwar agribusiness, developers and realtors who looked upon farmland and saw four rooms and a bath out of one eye and dollar signs out of the other also had on their side in the 1950s and ‘60s land assessment policies that prevented many farmers from making a profit and made their green acres attractive and vulnerable to bulldozers.
Lacking a unified state policy regarding taxation in the first half of the twentieth century, county and municipal tax assessors based their property assessments on local ordinances and traditional practices. If borough or township law dictated that farmland should be assessed at the same rate as developed land, then so be it.1
A Rutgers University study in the late 1950s reported that farm real estate taxes in New Jersey “had increased at an annual average rate of 15 percent, with the result that New Jersey farmers were paying the highest real estate taxes of all farmers in the nation. By 1960, real estate taxes per capita for the New Jersey farm population were $360, but for the total population, the figure was only $138.”2
Farmers were paying property taxes according to the residential or commercial development value of their land rather than on