June 7, 2010
NCBA, PLC Support Thompson Bill to Keep Family Farms and Ranches Intact
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) are calling on Congress “to protect family farms and ranches from being taxed out of business” by supporting H.R. 5475, the Family Farm Estate Tax Relief Act of 2010. H.R. 5475, by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), would exempt family farms and ranches from the estate tax as long as the estate continues in farming or ranching.
“Preserving the legacy of American agriculture for future generations should not be [a] political issue; it’s the right thing to do,” said NCBA President Steve Foglesong. “Allowing family farms and ranches to be taxed out of business will put our national food security and global competitiveness at serious risk.”
On Jan. 1, the estate tax temporarily zeroed out for the year 2010. However, unless Congress takes action by the end of the year, the tax will come back in 2011 at its staggering pre-2001 levels — meaning farm estates worth only $1 million would be taxed at a rate of 55%.
“If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, it will be a death sentence to many family-owned operations,” Foglesong continued. “The Thompson bill would help hardworking farmers and ranchers keep their land and operations intact for future generations.”
The death tax is considered one of the leading causes of the breakup of multi-generation family farms and ranches. Because farm and ranch assets consist mainly of land, buildings and specialized equipment, these estates may look wealthy on paper, but they include few saleable assets and little liquidity to pay estate taxes.
“Without specific agriculture relief, we’ll see family-owned ranches torn apart and converted into ‘ranchettes’ and subdivisions,” said PLC President Skye Krebs. “Instead, the Thompson bill would allow these lands to stay in production agriculture, supporting both healthy rural economies and the preservation of open space and wildlife habitat.”
H.R. 5475 would defer the estate tax for as long as the operation remains in agriculture. If the owner were to either stop farming or sell the property, a recapture tax would be imposed. The bill would also allow farmers and ranchers to qualify for a more generous tax deduction for land donated to a conservation easement.
Agriculture is disproportionately hit by the death tax. Farm estates are 5-20 times more likely to incur estate taxes than other estates, and it is estimated that one in 10 farm estates (farms with sales of $250,000 or more annually) are likely to owe estate taxes in 2009, according to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS).
— Release by NCBA.
Association VP Speaks at Australian Angus Conference
To most ranchers, Australia is a world away — actually, about a day and an ocean away.
So what could cattlemen down under and U.S. producers possibly have in common?
“Plenty,” said Joe Hampton, American Angus Association vice president. “There’s a lot of commonalities and a lot of opportunities.”
The Mount Ulla, N.C., Angus breeder and his wife, Robin, recently returned to their Back Creek Angus farm following a 14-day trip to Australia, a country similar in land size to the United States but with the lowest population density in the world.
Hampton was asked to speak at Angus Australia’s National Angus Conference late April in Albury. Upon their arrival, Hampton noticed differences in the people and culture of the region, but saw similarities in the Angus cattle. Read more.
K-State Joins Forces with Nebraska, Oklahoma State To Bring MAST Agricultural Program to Producers
A continuing education program that began at Kansas State University (K-State) for agricultural producers and others has teamed with Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Nebraska to further enhance educational opportunities for its participants.
“The Management Analysis and Strategic Thinking Program (MAST) has established a partnership between K-State, Oklahoma State and the University of Nebraska,” said K-State-based MAST coordinator Alicia Goheen. “We’ve added collaborating faculty in Damona Doye — OSU agricultural economics; Rodney Jones — OSU agricultural economics; and Bradley Lubben — University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) agricultural economics.”
The program combines new information and decision-making tools with online distance learning to develop management skills in agricultural producers. By learning farm management tools and their applications, participants are better equipped to cast a vision for their businesses and to handle the challenges of doing business in agriculture, Goheen said.
Although there is an on-campus session to kick off the MAST program and another at its conclusion, most of the education is accomplished through online learning modules that participants work through from home at times most convenient for them.
“MAST has been a highly effective program over the last seven years in providing participants with advanced agricultural and agribusiness management training,” said David Lambert, head of K-State’s Department of Agricultural Economics. “A newly formed collaboration in 2010 joins agricultural economists from Kansas State University with colleagues from the University of Nebraska and Oklahoma State University. Instructors from all three land-grant universities will pool their talents in challenging MAST participants with a wide range of decision tools relevant to agricultural management, production, marketing and finance.”
K-State will be the host site of this year’s on-campus portion, and the distance portion of the program will continue to make it accessible no matter the geography or time constraint of participants, Goheen said.
The 2010-2011 MAST program begins Nov. 16-17 at K-State with an on-campus orientation session. Participants then work from home over the following weeks until the program ends with another on-campus session Feb. 22-23, 2011.
The eight modules the program covers include Land Ownership and Leasing; Machinery Ownership and Leasing; Financial Analysis; Human Resources; Tax Management and Policy; Risk Management; Marketing; and an optional module that varies in content.
“MAST alumni are located in seven states, and we’re excited to continue to teach the program nationally while equipping participants with relevant high-level management and strategic planning skills,” Goheen said.
Throughout the distance portion of the program, faculty members at K-State, as well as collaborating faculty at OSU and Nebraska will be available to answer questions and help participants explore different areas that might help their businesses succeed. In addition, technical support is also available.
More information about the MAST program is available on the website, www.agmanager.info/MAST or by contacting Goheen at email@example.com or 785-532-4434.
— Release by K-State Research and Extension.
Forage and Silage Samples on Display at World Ag Expo 2011 Will Demonstrate “The Best of the West” to Attendees
World Ag Expo announces the continuation of the World Ag Expo Forage Challenge. This competition challenges farmers and ranchers to enter the bounty of their labors to see who produces the highest-quality forages in the West.
“Mycogen Seeds is pleased to continue its sponsorship of this program, which recognizes growers who produce high-quality forages and provides educational information to help improve forage quality,” says Greg Cannon, Mycogen Seeds forage marketing specialist.
To enter the 2011 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge, forage growers are encouraged to take samples of the best corn silage and alfalfa hay they produce in 2010. The contest is administered in part by the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), which coordinates sample testing and contest judging and also educates producers about the benefits of producing high-quality forages.
“While high yields are very important for profitable hay and silage production, attaining high quality is a close second,” says Dan Putnam, UC Davis forage specialist. “Hay and forage quality has improved substantially over the past 40 years in major dairy regions, where dairy producers and cash hay producers have discovered the impacts of improved forage quality on milk production.”
Farmers and ranchers from 11 western states are invited to enter the competition. Entries will be judged in three categories: alfalfa hay, standard corn silage and brown mid-rib (BMR) corn silage. Cash prizes will be awarded based on forage lab analyses, along with a visual evaluation of the entries by experts in dairy nutrition and forage production.
Cost to enter the 2011 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge is $25 per entry. All forage samples must be submitted to UC Davis for judging by Dec. 10, 2010. Entry forms and full contest rules can be found at www.worldagexpo.com/General-Info/Forage-Challenge.htm. The winner of the contest will be announced Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, at World Ag Expo.
“High-quality forage is an important tool in our agriculturalist’s toolbox,” says Lee Coito, 2011 World Ag Expo Chairman. “This challenge not only provides a competitive venue for our growers, but also provides an educational forum for those interested in learning how to grow higher-quality forages.”
— Release by World Ag Expo.
— Compiled by Mathew Elliott, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.