Twenty-eight agricultural groups have come together to call on Congress to implement permanent and meaningful estate tax relief for America’s farm and ranch families.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the organizations stated that inaction to fix the looming estate tax challenge would be disastrous for agriculture.
“American agriculture is traditionally a family-owned enterprise, and estate taxes can take a severe toll on family members who wish to carry on the farm and ranch tradition,” says Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “Portions of farm and ranch resources frequently have to be sold to pay for the resulting estate tax, and if something is not done soon, the bite of those taxes will be even more severe.”
If Congress does not act beginning in 2011, the law will call for a $1 million exemption and top rate of 55 percent. The negative impact on farm and ranch families will be significant and will cause many viable agricultural operations to disappear, the 28 organizations contend.
The organizations support permanently raising the exemption to no less than $5 million per person and reducing the top rate to no more than 35 percent. “It also is imperative that the exemption be indexed to inflation, provide for spousal transfers and include the stepped-up basis,” the group states.
“Family farmers and ranchers are not only the caretakers of our nation’s rural lands but they are small businesses too,” they add. “The 2011 change to the estate tax law does a disservice to agriculture because we are a land-based capital-intensive industry with few options for paying estate taxes when they come due. The current state of our economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities make it difficult for family-owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions.”
The groups urged Congress to immediately pass permanent estate tax reform, which they stated “provides the greatest relief and certainty for agriculture” and helps “strengthen the business climate for family farmers, ranchers and growers while ensuring agricultural businesses are passed to future generations.”
Along with AFBF, the following groups signed the letter: American Farmland Trust; American Mushroom Institute; American Sheep Industry Association; American Soybean Association; American Sugar Alliance; Farm Credit Council; National Association of Wheat Growers; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; National Corn Growers Association; National Cotton Council; National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; National Farmers Union; National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry; National Milk Producer Federation; National Pork Producers Council; National Potato Council; National Turkey Federation; Northwest Dairy Association; Public Lands Council; Southeast Dairy Farmers Association; Southeast Milk Inc.; United Egg Producers; United Fresh Produce Association; United Producers; U.S. Apple Association; U.S.A. Rice Federation; Western Growers Association; and Western United Dairymen.