By Glenn Brunkow, Pottawatomie County farmer and rancher
I am the fifth generation to farm one of our pieces of ground, which is quite a heritage to live up to. I have often wondered what it would be like to not be tied to a place, a way of living and a lifestyle. Those thoughts are very fleeting because who I am is very much tied to the land and the history associated with it. Like my ancestors I have a passion for farming and ranching.
I know I am not alone in my thoughts, in fact, I am very much in the majority when it comes to farmers and ranchers. Often our farms have been in our families for generations, the land is part of us. It defines who we are. I know my family has put decades and generations of blood, sweat and tears into building what we have, and I do not want to be the last generation, but it all might be in jeopardy if we lose stepped-up basis, and important tool family farms and ranches use to pass assets on to the next generation.
I also suspect my feelings go beyond the farm and echo up and down Main Street in our towns. I can think of lumberyards, grocery stores, clothing stores and many other local multigenerational businesses our communities depend on that are facing the same danger of being swallowed up to pay taxes if we do not make our voices heard.
We have all heard that farmers live poor and die rich, and never has that been truer than when it comes to the farm itself. Often bought 100 years or more ago for much less than it is worth today, especially if you are like me and farm next to a growing urban population. My great-grandparents, grandparents and parents paid their taxes and yet we are told simply because we will inherit the farm we have to pay even more in taxes, it does not make sense.
We do not want to sell our heritage, but we could have to choose between selling or going into more debt. With already tight margins that is not going to work, and it could bring on my very worst fear, the end of our family farm. I do not mean to be gloom and doom, but it is definitely time that each of us get involved and tell our story. Even if our legislators support our views and share them, it is time for them to hear from each of you.
It is also time to get involved with Kansas Farm Bureau. Our family farms are in the crosshairs for this massive tax increase because we are such a small percentage of the population and therefore and easy target. Singularly our voices are important, and we should make them heard. However, we are much more effective when we band together. Kansas Farm Bureau is that collective voice that represents all types and sizes of agriculture. The call to action is now and we must all join together to protect our way of life and our heritage.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.