|Washington, D.C., March 20, 2007—“The foundation of U.S. agriculture is our working farmland,” says Ralph Grossi, President of American Farmland Trust (AFT). “Maintaining a strategic base of our best agricultural land is essential to America’s long-term ability to produce food, fiber and energy.”
One of the tools for farmers and ranchers to protect their land is a conservation easement, which permanently protects the farmland from development and allows the farmer, future generations and future owners to keep the land in agricultural production. “Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Dave Camp (R-MI), have introduced legislation to make permanent the provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which gave farmers and ranchers who donated a conservation easement in 2006 or 2007 a tax deduction up to 100 percent of their income and other provisions for donating the development rights to their land,” says Grossi.
“Making these provisions permanent adds a necessary component of stability to the good work done last year by Congress to enact the tax incentive. Giving producers information about the provisions takes time, getting them comfortable with the information even more time, so the current two-year window is insufficient to capture the benefits. We need to make this tax incentive permanent to see the long-term results,” Grossi adds.
Every minute of each day, America loses two acres of farmland; and from 1992-1997, the most fertile and productive land was converted 30 percent faster, proportionally, than non-prime rural land, according to AFT. As the leading advocate for farm and ranch land protection, AFT has worked with individuals and communities for over 25 years to protect the best land, plan for agriculture and keep the land healthy—during that time, insuring that more than a million acres have stayed bountiful and productive.
“AFT recently released the results of the first national study of agricultural conservation easements—and we know that they are a tremendously effective tool to preserve farmland from urban influences, and a positive way for the landowner and the public to work together,” Grossi said. “Many farmers and ranchers want to protect their land for future generations in agriculture, and making this tax incentive permanent legislation will allow them to do so without jeopardizing their family’s economic future.”
American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT's national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.