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Bennet makes push to protect rural heritage, permanently extend conservation easement tax credit for Colorado farmers and ranchers


Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, announced in early November his support for bipartisan legislation that would protect Colorado's lands and rural heritage by permanently extending the enhanced tax incentive for farmers, ranchers and rural landowners to conserve their lands.

The legislation, the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2009, would make permanent the enhanced tax incentive for conservation easements, which allows all taxpayers to deduct up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income for donations of conservation easements and carry forward the deduction up to 15 years.

Furthermore, under the legislation, ranchers and farmers would be able to deduct up to 100% of their AGI for donations of conservation easements.

For example, under this program, a rancher earning $50,000 per year that donates a $1 million easement is able to claim a $750,000 deduction for donation of his easement over 15 years. Prior to enactment of this provision, the same rancher would only have been able to deduct $75,000.

"Partnering with farmers and ranchers to preserve our open lands is a proven way to protect Colorado's rural heritage and natural landscapes," said Bennet. "Extending this tax credit is a win-win for landowners who want to be rewarded for their stewardship and for future generations who will be able to enjoy Colorado's open lands as much as we do today."

Supporters of the legislation include: the Western Governors Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Farmland Trust, Ducks Unlimited, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Cattleman's Beef Association, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Nature Conservancy and many others.

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