American Farm Bureau Federation
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2015 – Farm Bureau member Brandon Whitt today urged Congress to repeal the estate tax to free up farmers and ranchers to build stronger businesses and benefit their local communities. Whitt, who farms in Tennessee, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, where he outlined the harmful impact the estate tax has on family-owned businesses.
“Agriculture looks different on farms from state to state but we all face the same reality that an uncertain tomorrow can bring,” Whitt said. While facing unpredictable weather and fluctuating markets, farmers and ranchers make decisions to expand their businesses and remain competitive. “Why should uncertainties over estate taxes be added to these others? Our job is hard enough as it is.”
Whitt’s family knows the harmful effects of the estate tax firsthand. Batey Farms, which Whitt runs with his wife – the 7th generation on the farm – and father-in-law, changed completely when his father-in-law was forced to sell off land to pay estate taxes: The land was lost to development, never to be recovered. Today, they continue to face expensive, long-term decisions to make Batey Farms viable far into the future, but they are committed to preserving the land for their community and future generations.
“We believe that our farm adds value to our town, that our neighbors value our open space, that our customers value having a local food source and that our farm market creates a sense of community,” Whitt said.
Around 90 percent of farm and ranch assets are illiquid, with the value tied up in land, buildings and equipment. For Whitt’s family, and thousands of others just like them, the ability to grow a business and pass it on to the next generation is slowed by a tax policy in direct conflict with the desire to preserve and protect our nation’s family-owned farms and ranches.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association:
WASHINGTON (March 18, 2015) – Today, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee held a hearing on the Burden of the Estate Tax on Family Businesses and Farms. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association member and seventh-generation cattleman from Fort Davis, Texas, Bobby McKnight testified before the subcommittee on how the death tax affects cattle producers.
“Many farm and ranch families are asset-rich and cash-poor, with most of the value of their estate attributed to the value of the land they use to raise cattle and grow food and fiber for consumers around the world,” said McKnight. “Strong export demand has been one of the driving forces in the increase in value of crop and pasture land in almost every state, not to mention the pressure from commercial development. Combined together, the increase in the value of farmland has many farm and ranch families concerned that they may trigger the estate tax simply through increasing land values.”
McKnight was able to share his family’s personal story of facing the death tax, and the consequences to their livelihood and operation in southwest Texas.
“When times have been lean, I have had to make sacrifices to keep my business above water, but sometimes you run out of places to cut,” said McKnight. “That is what happened to my family during hard times brought on by the estate tax. I had to let go of seasoned employees that had families of their own and were forced to work elsewhere. The skilled labor that I needed to run my operation was lost.”
NCBA calls for the immediate repeal of the death tax.
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association