The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a charitable giving bill - H.R. 4719 – that reinstates and makes permanent a federal income tax deduction for voluntarily conserving agricultural lands. This provision, introduced as H.R. 2807, enhances the deductions for gifts of conservation easements that permanently conserve working farm and ranch lands. Conservation easements retire development rights on private lands while allowing continued agricultural production. Thanks to Representative Cynthia Lummis who spoke in favor of the bill on the floor of the House last week http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4504028/lummis-house-floor-conservation-easements
Since 2006, an enhanced income tax deduction has allowed family farmers and ranchers to receive a significant tax benefit for conservation easement donations. This 2006 tax incentive expired at the end of 2013, but the recently passed House bill would make the enhanced deduction permanent and more favorable to agricultural landowners with modest incomes.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust collaborated with other members of the Partnership of Rangeland Trusts (PORT) and the Land Trust Alliance, the national association of more than 1,700 land trusts from around the country, in support of H.R. 2807 and will continue this effort to gain Senate approval. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
PORT is an association of seven statewide, agriculturally oriented land trusts who have worked with over 1,200 farm and ranch families to hold and administer their conservation easements on over 2 million acres. Many of these landowners have utilized the services of PORT members in their farm and ranch succession plans.
In addition to the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements, PORT is focusing on the administration of the new Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), to assure the rule and guidelines are landowner friendly. Estate tax relief and changing the Land and Water Conservation Program so program funds may be used for private land conservation of working agricultural lands are also PORT policy priorities. PORT members include California Rangeland Trust, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Montana Land Reliance, Oregon Rangeland Trust, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, Texas Agricultural Land Trust and Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust