Sacrificing Land To Pay The Death Tax

Just outside Nashville, Brandon Whitt operates Batey Farms with his wife, Katherine, and father-in-law, who owns the property.

Established in 1807 from a Revolutionary War land grant for military service, this seventh-generation family business provides over 65,000 customers each year with fresh fruits, vegetables, and pork.

Simultaneously, the Whitts farm 1,800 acres of row crops and 250 acres of hay on their own land, as well as on land that they rent from neighbors. Mr. and Mrs. Whitt manage the day-to-day operations of the farm together, including the oversight of their one full-time, two part-time, and more than a dozen seasonal employees. Since Batey Farms already receives so much traffic annually and the Whitts hope to continue expanding, the Whitts are currently investing in expanding their agritourism attractions. By doing this, they hope to attract and educate urban neighbors of the importance of modern day agriculture, as well as to preserve the long legacy of Batey Farms.

These investments are compromised by the existence of the estate tax. Already, the family has had to sacrifice part of their land to pay the tax; in 1998, when Batey Farms was only 600 acres large, Mr. Whitt’s father-in-law was forced to surrender 120 of them. This changed the business dynamic; not only was the opportunity for potential development lost, but this downsize also meant they were unable to continue raising cattle. Now that Mr. Whitt’s father-in-law is 72 years old, the Whitts are concerned about the future of Batey Farms. Undoubtedly, they will lose some of their investments. At the same time, paying the estate tax will be a loss to their community, as it values this historic, local food source.

Brandon Whitt
Batey Farms