The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association came out in strong support of President George W. Bush’s tax package, submitted to Capitol Hill late last week.

The package contained many of the cattle industry’s “top priorities,” including estate tax elimination, removal of the alternative minimum tax and removal of the marriage penalty, according to an NCBA news release.

"It's important for cattle producers to be able to keep more of their dollars at home on the ranch and in their communities," said Lynn Cornwell, a cattle producer from Glasgow, Mont., and president of NCBA. "We wholeheartedly support President Bush's proposal to ease the tax burden on cattle ranchers and all American families."

The tax proposal would reduce marginal income tax rates and eliminate the death tax, a provision in the tax code that cattle producers have opposed for many years.

The industry has persistently vied to eliminate death taxes because they can lead to the break up of family farms and ranches. Cattle producing families are often faced with two options:

  • Paying accountants and lawyers to help plan their estates to avoid paying exorbitant amounts in estate taxes upon a family member's death, or
  • Selling land, property, part of the cattle herd or other equipment
    vital to keeping cattle ranches functioning.

"These are unfair choices," Cornwell said. "Either way, cattle producers are paying far too much of their income to avoid a tax or pay a tax whose basic premise - taxing death - is wrong in the first place."

NCBA is also touting two other tax-related bills, calling for the ouster of death, estate and gift taxes.

"Cattle producers are elated that both the president and Congress have chosen to address tax relief early in the session," Cornwell said. "We won't rest, however, until Congress passes a final bill and the president signs death tax elimination and other tax relief measures into law."