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PRODUCERS APPLAUD CONSERVATION TAX PROVISION

Washington, D.C., August 4, 2006 -- Ranchers who donate land for conservation can receive an increased deduction and be ensured those lands will remain in ag production according to provisions contained in a pensions package on its way to the President's desk for signature. The adjusted deduction for conservation easement donations within H.R. 4 provides tax incentives for protection of open space and for farm and ranch stewardship.

The Senate approved H.R. 4, The Pension Protection Act of 2006, on August 3 by a vote of 93-5. The package passed the House July 28. Members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) have worked with Representatives Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) to include this language to better protect the agricultural character of lands donated for conservation.

"This bill will provide a major increase in the deductions landowners can take for donating a conservation easement in 2006 and 2007," says Jeff Eisenberg, NCBA's director of federal lands. "It's important that we focus efforts on keeping ag lands intact and in production, rather than offer ranchers incentives to give up their land for other uses."

The Qualified Conservation Contribution Provision includes these items of interest to ranchers:

* Raising the maximum deduction a donor can take for donation of a conservation easement from 30 percent of their adjusted gross income in any year to 50 percent (provided that the contribution does not prevent use of the donated land for farming or ranching);

* Allowing qualified farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income; and

* Increasing the number of years over which a donor can use conservation tax deductions from 6 years to 16 years.

This provision will be effective for donations made through December 31, 2007. After that, the law will revert back to previous provisions, unless Congress extends the provision prior to the deadline.

James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, agrees that this language will help landowners while keeping agricultural lands productive. "This new conservation easement law is another important step in realizing the President's vision for cooperative conservation," says Connaughton. "It helps fulfill the President's commitment to landowners, sportsmen, and conservationists to provide substantial new incentives to those who want to commit their land to open space while keeping our nation's farms and ranches working."

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The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) is the largest organization representing America's cattle industry. Initiated in 1898, NCBA is the industry leader in education, influencing public policy to improve producer profitability and in preserving the industry's heritage and future. Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or membership@beef.org.

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