Representative Panetta Introduces Bipartisan Preserving Family Farms Act

April 6, 2021
Press Release

SALINAS, CA – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) was joined by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02) to introduce the bipartisan Preserving Family Farms Act.  The legislation would help family-owned farms continue operations after a loved one has passed by easing the burden of the estate tax.  The bill would modernize the special use valuation provision of the estate tax by increasing the amount of farmland that can be valued for farming operations rather than development value.  This would protect family-owned farmland by assessing estate taxes on the actual value of their businesses that they, in many cases, have spent decades cultivating.

“Estate taxes on family-owned farms have forced families to split up the land they have spent generations building,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Our Preserving Family Farms Act would ease this burden by ensuring that these farms are appraised by the value of their business, rather than development value.  This much-needed fix would preserve agriculture lands and protect many of the Central Coast family-owned farms that provide our food security.”

“Hoosier family farmers are the backbone of our economy, and they work hard to put fresh food on our tables,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “They shouldn’t have to make the difficult decision to sell or break up their farm because of a crushing tax bill after the death of a loved one.  The Preserving Family Farms Act would update existing provisions in the tax code to ensure estate taxes are based on the value of farmland as it is actually used, not its highest potential value if it was sold for development.  This commonsense, bipartisan bill would give the next generation of farmers a better chance to carry on their family’s legacy and keep family-owned agricultural businesses going strong.”

“Now more than ever, it is important to protect the family farm from excessive inheritance taxes.  Land values are increasing as domestic food supplies are recognized as critical during the pandemic, and no more so than here in the Salinas Valley, the Salad Bowl of the World.  This increase in special use valuation for farmland will provide security for family farms and for the generations that follow those currently farming productive lands,” said Norm Groot, Executive Director, Monterey County Farm Bureau.

“The Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau would like to thank Congressman Jimmy Panetta for reintroducing the Preserving Family Farms Act.  This act is an important step to protect and preserve farmland by ensuring agricultural land remains affordable for future generations," said Arnett Young, President, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau.

“Monterey County Cattlemen's Association applauds Congressman Panetta for introducing the Preserving Family Farms Act. It only makes sense to value rangeland based on its value as forage for livestock rather than its potential value as a commercial property.  This bill not only provides ranchers the opportunity to continue their multi-generational ranching operations but will help preserve open space to keep ecosystems intact.  This is a win for ranchers and a win for the multiple threatened and endangered species that depend on rangelands to survive,” saidMonterey County Cattlemen’s Association President John Soares.

“The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021 will be a benefit in the estate planning process for multi-generational farming and ranching families.  We are land rich and cash poor; this bill will keep the value of the land as Agricultural and not the value for potential development.  We have seen to many families divided, farms and ranches dispersed to others who have no Agricultural interest in the land or the environment.  United States Agricultural is the backbone of the economy, we feed the World, this legislation will help keep it that way,” said Scott Violini, fourth generation Central Coast cattle producer.

“Because the great majority of California farms and ranches are family operations, estate tax policy plays a huge role in shaping agriculture’s future.  Revising the estate tax for agriculture would be a significant benefit for tens of thousands of California family farmers and ranchers, and for the millions of people who depend on them for jobs, food and farm products.  We fully support Rep. Panetta’s legislation as it will allow family farmers and ranchers to better manage their estate tax liability and help preserve farm and ranch businesses after a loved one passes,” said California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson.

“On behalf of the ranching families who steward 38 million acres of California rangeland, the California Cattlemen’s Association welcomes Congressman Panetta’s introduction of the Preserving Family Farms Act.  America’s cattle ranchers produce a safe, nutritious and sustainable protein while managing our natural resources, taking care of the land for the benefit of wildlife and contributing to their local communities and economies.  Currently the estate tax results in vast swaths of rangeland lost to development every day; the Act’s tax reforms will ensure that ranching families have the opportunity to pass their operations to the next generation while continuing to conserve working rangelands.  CCA fully supports the Preserving Family Farms Act and thanks Congressman Panetta for his leadership in ensuring the sustainability of family farming and ranching and the protection of the open spaces we call home.” said California Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Billy Gatlin.

“Estate taxes can have devastating consequences on family farms. The special use valuation is an important tool to help farmers and ranchers navigate the difficult process of estate planning.Next-generation farmers and ranchers should be able to pay based on the actual use of the land, rather than its potential value as commercial property such as an office or warehouse.  AFBF is grateful Representatives Panetta and Walorski introduced the Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021, which will help more farm and ranch businesses transition to the next generation.  We call on Congress to pass this legislation,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“America’s farmers and ranchers deserve certainty in the tax code overall, and they need certainty especially when it comes to the estate tax.  Without it, transition planning for the next generation of producers is nearly impossible.  NCBA is committed to the fight to defend family ranches and farms and has long advocated for sound policies, such as expanding IRS Code Section 2032A to allow more ranchers and farmers to take advantage of the Special Use Valuation that will preserve family-owned beef operations for generations to come.  We applaud Representatives Panetta and Walorski for their leadership and dedication to protecting future generations of agricultural producers through the introduction of the “Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jerry Bohn.