Activities that are normal and necessary to conduct bona fide agricultural operations in properly zoned areas are eligible for this exemption

Often when you do work that involves land alteration, we require you to get a natural resources permit, but if your activities are normal and necessary to conduct bona fide agricultural operations in properly zoned areas, you can apply for an agricultural exemption.

Note: This information is for an Agricultural Exemption to the Natural Resources Permit only. Agricultural Exemptions to Building Permits must be requested through HillsGovHub.

Land alteration activities

  • Do not involve the removal of more than 500 cubic yards of material offsite
  • Do not cause an adverse impact to upland and/or wetland environmentally sensitive areas
  • Do not cause an adverse impact to neighboring properties by impeding or diverting the flow of surface water entering or leaving the property boundaries
  • Conform to the standards specified in Placement of Fill, Section 4.01.05. E of the Land Development Code

Normal and necessary factors include the following:

  • Specific agricultural use of the property
  • Size of the property as it relates to specific agricultural use
  • Land designated agricultural by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser
  • Pending applications for land use or zoning changes


No fee is required for an agricultural exemption review, however, if an exemption is not justified a permit application and applicable fee will be required.


What you will need to complete for the application:

  1. Type of activity which you are seeking an exemption for:
    • Tree removal
    • Grubbing
    • Clearing
    • Grading
    • Excavating
    • Filling
  2. Activity information:
    • Proposed agricultural use(s)
    • Land use history
    • Agricultural income
  3. Zoning information
  4. Address and size of the property
  5. Section/township/range
  6. Owner’s/Applicant’s name, phone, email and address
  7. Name, phone, email and address of person or business physically doing the land alteration
  8. Legal description of property
  9. Aerial photograph (1” = 200’ scale)
  10. Site plan drawn to scale and providing the following information:
    • Location and size of parcel
    • Existing and proposed grades on maximum 100 foot centers throughout the proposed land alteration area
    • Typical cross section of each area to be excavated or filled, estimated depth of excavation or fill area, and estimated volume of material to be hauled on and/or offsite
    • The dimension of the excavation or fill area
  11. Type and location of any well within 500 feet of any area to be excavated and dewatered
  12. Permeability test results
  13. Dewatering method
  14. Soil borings
    • Three test results, signed and sealed by a Civil Engineer registered in Florida, for any excavation that creates a basin below natural land surface
  15. For proposed agriculture irrigation reservoirs, provide a copy of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) permit or exemption from permitting document or Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) permit
    • The submission of this documentation will exclude the need to submit items 11 through 14

Things to consider

  • For items 8 to 15 on the checklist, our staff will determine which documents you need
  • Items 11 through 14 are only necessary for excavations proposed to go more than 15 feet below natural grade unless determined otherwise by staff.
  • Items 11 through 14 are not required for excavations which have received a Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) or Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) permit or other pertinent SWFWMD or FDEP document addressing water quality and quantity concerns. You will need to provide a copy of this documentation with the application
  • The following activities for existing bona fide agricultural operations do not require an application for an Agricultural Exemption to the Natural Resource Permit:
    • Normal agricultural practices such as, field preparation, transplanting, tilling, plowing, planting, and harvesting, however, forestry operations and the conversion of natural lands to improved pasture do require completion of an Agricultural Exemption application
    • Routine resetting or replacement of tree crops (citrus) or other crops to replace dead or diseased plants
    • Removal of plant material (trees, shrubs, other plants) grown on a plant farm specifically for sale during the ordinary course of business
    • Tree removal which is exempted by Section 4.01.03 of the Land Development Code
    • Trimming of trees in accordance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 Standards
    • Limited tree removal and/or trimming not conforming to ANSI A300 Standards on existing farm operations to achieve crop production requirements
    • Installation, repair, or replacement of irrigation piping systems
    • Maintenance of existing permitted ponds, water control structures, culverts and drainage systems
    • Recontouring of raised beds, water furrows, and swales
    • Fire line maintenance

How to

  1. Download the application
  2. Submit your application
  3. Ensure that you have all required files labeled with the Folio number. Files must be in pdf or jpeg format. Highlight all files to be submitted and compress them into a single .zip file. Please ensure you label this file with the folio number. A on creating zip file and uploading your documents is available.
  4. Upload your documents
  5. If you have questions regarding your file upload, please email or call (813) 272-5600.

Please note: Your signature certifies your legal responsibilities associated with the submission of your application.

What's next

  1. Our staff will:
    • Assign an application review number
    • Review the application for completeness
    • Answer any questions you may have about the application
  2. We will send a formal written response if we determine we will support your request for an exemption from permitting


Get help

Department: Dev. Svcs - Natural Resources
Phone: (813) 272-5600

Last Modified: 1/15/2024, 7:59:09 PM

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