Wayne F. Pryor
Last week, Politifact published “Hurt amiss in blaming estate tax for sales of family farms and businesses. Here is VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor’s response.
“As a Virginia farmer and president of the state’s largest farmers’ advocacy organization, I would be remiss if I did not point out that PolitiFact Virginia’s “Hurt amiss in blaming estate tax for sales of family farms and businesses” serves to marginalize the threat that the federal estate tax poses to Virginia’s and the nation’s farmers.
The value of family-owned farms typically is tied to illiquid assets such as land, buildings and equipment. A strong appreciation of land values since 2002 has dramatically increased the number of farms that stand to be affected by the estate tax.
USDA reports from 2002 and 2013 indicate Virginia farm real estate appreciated $2,060 per acre—83 percent—in that 11-year period. Virginia cropland values appreciated $2,250 per acre—92 percent—in the same period.
Based on those 2013 land values, farms with more than 1,099 acres, or 1,064 acres of cropland, would reach the $5 million exemption. Based on the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the percentage of Virginia farms that exceed the $5 million exemption has increased from 1 percent to 2 percent, and the number of crop producers who exceed the limit has increased from 1 percent to 3 percent.
Individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own about 97 percent of U.S. farms, and I can assure you that 0 percent of them build and continue their family businesses to ultimately enrich the federal government. Perhaps, as Mr. Fiske asserts, “few families are wealthy enough to be bothered by the estate tax,” but the farm families who are that wealthy are the ones who are producing the majority of the nation’s food, fiber and fuel commodities.
They face a tax that penalizes them for their work and initiative and stands to claim the essentials of their livelihoods.
Virginia Farm Bureau is grateful to Reps. Hurt, Forbes, Goodlatte, Griffith and Wittman for their support on this issue.”
Wayne F. Pryor, President
Virginia Farm Bureau