The NCC joined 34 other agricultural organizations on letters to Congress urging senators and representatives to act immediately and permanently renew the current estate tax provision, until such time as full repeal is possible — a move that will give farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to conduct business. The current estate tax relief is set to expire at the end of 2012.

The letter noted that if Congress fails to act and estate taxes are allowed to be reinstated at the beginning of 2013 with only a $1 million exemption and top rate of 55 percent, there will be a significant negative impact on agriculture.

“At a minimum, we support extending the exemption at $5 million per person and retaining the top rate of 35 percent until such time as full repeal of the estate tax is possible,” the letter stated. “It is also imperative that any estate tax law passed, other than full repeal, index the exemption to inflation; provide for spousal transfers; and include the stepped-up basis.”

The letter pointed out that family farmers and ranchers are not only the caretakers of our nation’s rural lands but they are also small businesses. The 2013 change to the estate tax law does a disservice to agriculture because it is a land-based, capital-intensive industry with few options for paying estate taxes when they come due. The current state of the economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities, makes it difficult for family-owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions.