Bill Protects Generational Transfer of Agricultural Property

On May 22, 2012, Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance released the following statement on the signing of estate tax reform legislation that would protect the generational transfer of farmland. The legislation (SB294/HB444) Family Farm Preservation Act of 2012, better known as the “estate tax” bill, was proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. It allows farms valued under $5 million to be passed down from generation to generation without incurring estate taxes, provided that the land stays in agricultural use for at least 10 years. The legislation also reduces the Maryland estate tax rate to 5 percent for qualified agricultural property values over $5 million, down from the current 16 percent.

“This new law, long sought after by the agriculture community, will make it easier for farmers to pass down farmland through generations by decreasing the estate tax burden on the owner’s death.  No Marylander should be forced to sell a farm that has been in their family for generations because they cannot afford the tax bill. We thank Governor O’Malley, Senate President Miller, Maryland legislators and all who were involved in the passage of this important legislation that protects our heritage and strengthens our agricultural economy.  When our farm businesses are sustainable, the next generation will see farming as a viable career opportunity, and Maryland will preserve its open space and locally-grown food industry.”