A cool intersection of law, language, and unintended consequences, three of my favorite topics, from the Double-Tongued Dictionary (thanks to Erin McKean for the pointer):

[I]ndicating a situation in which livestock are deceitfully used to make a residential or commercial property qualify as a working farm or ranch in order to benefit from an agricultural tax provision or subsidy.

JeremyB (mail) (www):
This kind of thing is actually pretty common in Kansas, where I worked for a county appraiser for four years. Agricultural land is valued based on income, and not probable sale price (market value), thus giving a hefty tax break to farmers. Quite a few people let their weeds grow and bale it once a year trying to get an ag designation. Most of the time they don't succeed.
9.25.2007 5:40pm
Houston Lawyer:
It is common practice in Texas to lease your land to a farmer for about the amount of the ag-based property taxes. Keeping just a few head of cattle on a piece of land can save you thousands of dollars in annual taxes.
9.25.2007 6:47pm
In California, it's exactly the opposite: livestock (goats more often than cows, because they're more portable) are rented as a cheap way to clear brush that will feed wildfires if it doesn't first feed ungulates.
9.25.2007 8:12pm
Barry P. (mail):
In Abu Dhabi, it is possible to rent a set of newish tires, thus enabling one's car to pass the annual safety inspection without shelling out a few hundred bucks.
9.25.2007 8:17pm
DiverDan (mail):
Actually, in the Dairy Industry, renting dairy cows is not uncommon - I was involved in a Bankruptcy Case in Nashville where the Debtor's sole business was in leasing cattle (in distinct herds) to dairy farmers, who preferred leasing rather than owning the cattle for both the cash flow advantages and the tax advantages. Now that doesn't prevent problems for the financial companies who finance the leases when the Debtor-Lessor engages in multiple leases of the very same cows by putting multiple identity tags on the same cows, or engages in switching out cows from one leased herd to the other without changing the Collateral Descritions in filed Financing Statements, and the Farmers fail to identify the calves (which are additional rental and additional collateral to secure the leases) to the appropriate herds. This particular leasing company went under, but I believe that there is still a substantial business in leasing cattle to the dairy industry.
9.25.2007 8:28pm
Truth Seeker:
This just shows that tricky tax schemes with loopholes encourages tricky tax avoidance methods.
9.25.2007 11:29pm
"This just shows that tricky tax schemes with loopholes encourages tricky tax avoidance methods."

As well they should.

The unintended consequences of trying to control and manipulate the population.
9.26.2007 7:51am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Is the term "Potemkin Cow" listed as a synonym?
9.26.2007 8:40am
markm (mail):
Hmm... When I was growing up in Traverse City, Michigan, one of the largest corporate cherry farms around there belonged to a land speculator/developer. It was a legitimate and well-run farming enterprise, which with cherry prices in the 60's and 70's didn't necessarily mean it was turning a profit, but at least it was paying the taxes until the land became valuable enough to develop.
9.26.2007 11:08am