A team of Denver Post reporters takes a closer look at a tax break that’s intended to help struggling farmers but is widely used by developers and firms outside the agricultural industry. Property-tax records reveal at least 40 percent of the 54,000 parcels of land in eight Front Range counties classified as agricultural—and thus qualifying for steep tax breaks—belong to businesses with “little or no ties to actual farming.” Though some public officials have complained about the practice over the years, farmers fear changes to the current law, while homebuilders, who argue home prices are kept more affordable because of the tax status, are also resisting the change.

A long list of well-known and wealthy people own “farms” in Colorado, the Post reports in Part II of the series, including actor Tom Cruise, state Democratic Senator Gail Schwartz, energy-industry billionaire Kelcy Warren, media mogul Charlie Ergen, actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, and others.