Thirty-One Ag Groups Take Death Tax to the White House
WASHINGTON - Today, Nov. 29, 2010, 31 agricultural organizations, representing family farmers and ranchers, sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging immediate, permanent and meaningful estate tax reform. If estate taxes are allowed to be reinstated at the beginning of 2011 with only a $1 million exemption and a top rate of 55 percent, the negative impact on the agricultural industry will be significant. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) signed the letter.
“For far too long, farmers and ranchers have faced uncertainty when it comes to planning ahead for the future of their estates,” said NCBA President Steve Foglesong. “The President needs to force action on this or be held responsible for the ruin of many family operations and officially preventing young people from returning to the family farm.”
The organizations support permanently increasing the exemption level to no less than $5 million per persons and reducing the top rate to no more than 35 percent. The organizations also noted in the letter that it is “imperative” that the exemption be indexed to inflation; provide for spousal transfers; and include the stepped-up basis. Foglesong said it is inaccurate to assume this is a tax on the wealthy.
“Taxing family farmers and ranchers out of business will have serious impacts on all Americans, not just in our rural communities,” said Foglesong. “This is not a tax on the ‘wealthy elite.’ The wealthy can afford accountants and estate planners to help them evade the tax. This is a death warrant for small-to-medium sized family businesses. Farmers and ranchers are often forced to sell land, equipment, or the even the entire ranch just to pay tax liabilities. This is money that could otherwise be reinvested to grow the family business and hand it down to future generations.”
On Nov. 30, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. EST, NCBA, joined by nine other agricultural organizations, is hosting a press conference in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to act on the estate tax. Speaking on behalf of NCBA is Scott Bennett, a junior at Virginia Tech University and an active participant in his family’s operation, Knoll Crest Farm, in Red House, Va. The American Farm Bureau Federation; the American Soybean Association; the National Association of Wheat Growers; the National Corn Growers Association; the National Cotton Council; the National Farmers Union; the National Milk Producers Federation; the National Pork Producers Council; and the Public Lands Council will also participate in the news conference. To watch the event live, go to NCBA’s policy blog at www.BeltwayBeef.com.