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FB prez: Create tax credits for farm transfers

By Staff | Dec 11, 2009

Craig Lang, Brooklyn-area dairy farmer and president of Iowa Farm Bureau, said Friday that while he was hauling cornstalk bales as feed for his dry cows, he developed an idea for protecting Iowa farming assets.

That was a day after he listened to Gov. Chet Culver talk about how the state must re-evaluate the need for all of it tax credits. The governor was speaking Thursday in Des Moines at the Iowa Farm Bureau Annual Meeting.

“The state (historically) gives tax credits to create economies and efficiencies,” Lang said. “Now, we’ve got a whole bunch of energetic men and women who want to farm.

“Why not use tax credits to help get these young people started in ag and livestock ventures?”

He added that such tax credits would be used in transferring land and livestock assets from retiring farmers to younger operators. Such a credit, he indicated, would be similar to encouraging the start up of small businesses.

“The new farms would make more investment, and repopulate the rural areas for the next four decades,” Lang added. “We’ve never used tax credits to transfer (farm assets) that way. I don’t think we ever thought about it that way.”

He acknowledged that his idea is not yet fully developed or thought through, but that on the surface it has merit.

“We have to start thinking strategically of how to protect the value of these assets, otherwise we’ll be stuck (with more) absentee land ownership,” Lang said. “That’s not to say it’s policy, but how I think our leaders should be thinking.

“If tax credits work commercially, they should work for farmers who want to work.”

Farm Bureau at 2010 legislative table

Culver said last week that he had invited Farm Bureau to be involved in tax and other legislative talks as they relate to farming as the 2010 legislative session convenes Jan. 11, 2010. “I told the governor he needs to assure livestock and poultry producers there will be no new laws – we have enough already.”

Culver was asked from the Farm Bureau members if new laws were forthcoming in the 2010 legislative session. “He avoided the question,” Lang said, “and said that all of the players should come to the table.”

Lang said farmers have heard that before. During the 2009 session, ag groups around the state worked hard to reach agreements on the state’s manure application bill. “We had an agreement,” Lang said, adding that when the compromise reached the committee it came back saying more rules were needed.

“If they want Iowa to stay competitive,” Lang said, “there has to be a moratorium on new rules. I’m not saying leniency, just stop passing more rules.”

Climate change

Lang said that Farm Bureau is not supportive of the House or Senate versions of climate change laws in Washington, D.C. He said although it could mean a $40 billion windfall to farmers in the short term, the long term hurt on farming would not be worthy it.

“I expect this will affect the 2010 elections,” Lang said. “Farmers will not support legislators who will vote for cap and trade bills, unless (the bills) have a positive outcome.”

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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