My family has almond land, rice land and cattle land in California.
Our forefathers settled on the cattle land in the mid 1800’s.
The problem I see is that land in California has increased in value so tremendously that he average land owner is going to be impacted in a major way upon the death of the patriach.
Farmers don’t have large cash reserves. Very few do estate planning. Most don’t know the real value of their holdings. I saw this every day as a Financial Planner and a land owner’s daughter. My mother passed away in November and my father is turning 87 in August. He was aware more than most of his contemporaries but we’re still scrambling to get a grip on the estate Tax potential. It’s even more critical in Sonoma and Napa Counties where the vineyard land is selling for $80,00 to $250,000 an acre. It doesn’t take long to put a family in a serious financial crunch if your family owns 200 acres. I would consider these farmers small farm owners. We’re not talking about people who own thousands of acres.
If the family has to sell to pay the estate taxes, large conglomerates and commercial entities are buying up the farms. We cannot afford to lose this farm land to commercial parties. The average farmer in California needs to be protected. It takes a special breed of individual to farm. If we aren’t able to pass our heritage for the land on to our children, many of us will forego farming. Let the “suits” take it on. Maybe they’ll realize the crisis when they’re paying $6.00 for a head of lettuce or $10.00 a pound for rice.
Thank you for the forum.