SDCA applauds legislation to protect family ranches

Apr 6, 2012
by WLJ

In late March, Sen. John Thune introduced two bills to protect family farms and ranches and the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) applauds his efforts on behalf of South Dakota’s beef producers.

The Preserving America’s Family Farm Act will prevent the Department of Labor (DOL) from enacting its controversial proposed restrictions on youth working in agriculture. In late 2011, DOL proposed rules that prohibit youth under the age of 15 from working on farms with mature livestock or operating farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower. In addition, youth under 15 years of age would only be allowed to work on farms and ranches owned by their parents, severely inhibiting their activities on family operations that may be owned by an uncle, grandfather, or even a family corporation. Participation in 4-H and FFA activities would also be severely limited, including restrictions on farm safety classes.

SDCA President Jeff Smeenk is a fourth-generation rancher from Newell who hopes his children will be able to continue the family tradition.

He noted SDCA’s opposition to the proposed rule and commented, “We thank Sen. Thune and his colleagues for recognizing the importance of preserving our opportunities for families to work together while teaching youth how to be safe around animals and equipment.”

The Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act was also introduced by Thune and will abolish the destructive federal estate tax, or “death tax.” Thune’s bill is a companion to legislation cosponsored in the House by Rep. Kristi Noem.

“SDCA has repeatedly informed lawmakers the onerous death tax isn’t sustainable if we hope to keep future generations involved in our often asset-rich but cash-poor family farms and ranches,” said Smeenk. “We appreciate the efforts of Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem to stop the federal government from viewing death as a taxable event and we urge cattlemen to thank them for sponsoring the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act.”

SDCA has long advocated for death tax reform that would provide certainty for our farm and ranch families. In late 2010, Congress acted to provide temporary relief from this burdensome tax, providing an exemption of $5 million per person and a top tax rate of 35 percent. Unfortunately, this temporary reprieve expires at the end of 2012 and, if Congress doesn’t act, the death tax will revert back to pre-2001 levels with an exemption of only $1 million and a tax rate of 55 percent. — WLJ