The American Sheep Industry Association joined the Public Lands Council, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other agricultural organizations this week in sending support to Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.) for his part in moving forward the Family Farm Estate Tax Relief Act of 2010.
Nearly three-quarters of the land in the lower 48 states of the United States is in private ownership, with the vast majority owned by farmers and ranchers. These lands are vital to both healthy ecosystems and vibrant rural communities. They provide clean water, climate benefits, food and fiber production and wildlife habitat.
The estate tax, as currently formulated, promotes the break up, sale and development of family-owned farms, ranches and green spaces. This bill lessens the financial burden that currently impedes handing down productive, intact, agricultural operations to America's next generation of producers and land stewards.
In addition, this legislation would update existing estate tax incentives for voluntary, permanent protection of lands with conservation value. By both reducing pressure for habitat fragmentation and rewarding voluntary commitments to conservation, the bill would generate lasting benefits for all Americans.
In conclusion, the signators of the letter stated that it is imperative for this legislation to be included as part of the broader estate tax reform effort moving through Congress this year.