In July, I traveled to Washington, DC for legislative training by the American Farm Bureau Federation. My five days inside the Beltway were capped off by a visit to Capitol Hill to speak with some of West Virginia’s lawmakers. It was certainly an eye-opening experience and definitely one that I hope to repeat in the future. As young farmers, I will admit that we are often too lackadaisical about taking a stance on political issues and standing up for ourselves. But folks, it is our future. In the past six months, three major issues have emerged that have the potential to severely impact our livelihoods in agriculture. First, the Department of Labor’s rules on child farm labor. Second, the EPA’s Guidance Document on what “navigable waters” are under the Clean Water Act. And third, the 2013 Farm Bill.
On January 1, 2013, another issue is going to rear its ugly head. If our elected officials do not act quickly, the Death Tax will jump to a rate of 55% with only a $1 million exemption. Currently, the Death Tax stands at a top rate of 35% with a $5 million per person exemption. As farmers, we realize that a tax this extreme can – and will – destroy our ability to keep a farm together after the death of a family member. We will be forced to sell off land, equipment, or livestock to pay this tax.
Congress will be looking at a huge tax package when they return to Washington, DC on November 27th. This package will include the Death Tax, as well as the Capital Gains tax.
We as young farmers must fight. We have to make our voices heard. Our lawmakers need to hear our personal stories. They must put an actual face and name with who the Death Taxes are going to affect. The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on everyone to contact their lawmakers and push for action on this issue. Their goal is to have 10,000 messages from Farm Bureau members waiting for Congress when they get back to DC on the 27th. I encourage you to take a stand NOW. Email and call your representatives and ask for a return to the 35% rate and $5 million per person exemption.
Together, we can make a difference. Our futures as young farmers depend on it.