DENVER — Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Kent Peppler, a Mead, Colo., farmer, endorsed the Save the Family Farm and Ranch Act, introduced yesterday on the House floor by Reps. John Salazar (D-Colo., Dist. 3) and Betsy Markey (D-Colo., Dist. 4).
“The estate tax is a thorny problem,” Peppler said. “The Salazar/Markey bill offers a compromise that works to the benefit of families threatened by huge inheritance tax burdens. This will help keep young people in the family farming or ranching business.”
The Save the Family Farm and Ranch Act, which Salazar originally introduced on the first day of the 2007 session, would defer inheritance taxes so heirs to farms and ranches would not have to literally sell off the family farm to pay the taxes on it. Salazar said in a press conference after re-introducing the bill that nearly every ranch in the San Luis Valley, aside from big corporate farms, would face loss of their property even if they wanted to continue ranching following their parents’ death.
Markey added, “It is difficult for people to be able to hang on to the family farm when the value of the land just over the past decade has gone up so much.”
Even in these tough economic times, agricultural land cannot keep pace with the potential value of development. The Save the Family Farm and Ranch Act uses the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of “farm,” as an operation that derives 50 per cent or more of its income from farming. Thus working farms are protected without offering the same exemption to non-producers who own farming or ranching property but do not make their living from it.
Under the bill, when property is sold for development, the deferred taxes would have to be paid. Because the taxes are not waived, but only deferred, the government would not be losing revenue.
“Farmers can tell you that agricultural land is worth more than money,” said Peppler. “This bill recognizes that and protects America’s ability to continue producing food, fuel, and fiber for years to come.”