Soybean farming is a family business. For farmers, a large part of being sustainable means caring for our land in such a way that we can pass down efficient, competitive operations to our children. Unless Congressional action is taken before the end of the year, the estate tax will revert to exemption levels so low and tax rates so high that the continuation of farming businesses from one generation to the next would be jeopardized. Farming is unique in that farms—even very profitable  ones—have most, if not all of their assets invested in land and equipment, with very little cash on hand. This makes paying an estate tax assessment on a farm all but impossible without selling off land, equipment or both. How would your administration ensure that farmers can continue to pass on their operations to future generations without undue tax burdens?

President Obama: I have put forward a balanced plan for deficit reduction that continues tax cuts for the middle-class, while asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their share. First, we must extend the middle class tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans making less than $250,000 for another year. In fact, my proposal extends tax cuts for 97 percent of all small business owners in America. But at the same time, if we are going to reduce the deficit without sacrificing investments in our future like education, clean energy, and manufacturing, we can’t afford to continue tax breaks for the wealthiest. I support the return of the estate tax exemption and rates to 2009 levels. At this level, only 60 small farm and business estates in the entire country would owe any estate tax in 2013. This would protect the family farm from being sold to pay taxes, while ensuring that folks like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, or the Koch Brothers do not avoid the tax on their billion dollar estates.

Governor Romney: At the very heart of U.S. agriculture is the family farm. Traveling across the heartland of America and visiting with farm families, I have been continuously impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit and drive to be successful. It is my pledge to rural America that the federal government will not force our farmers and ranchers to sell their operations or part of their operations simply to pay death taxes as their operations pass from one generation to next. For this reason, I fully support eliminating the death tax. Family farms and ranches built on strong rural values and work ethic should not be penalized through the heavy hand of government. Family farms are and need to continue to be the backbone of rural America. For this reason, a Romney Administration will work to ensure that our nation’s farm families face no  federal death tax.