Arkansas Valley: Conservation easements not the panacea for agriculture in all cases

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From the La Junta Tribune Democrat (Elaine White):

On Jan. 4 the administrative board of Landowners United met with a team of consultants at the courthouse in La Junta where the topic of discussion was the ongoing threat looming over landowners who have participated in the State of Colorado’s tax credit incentive program. By donating development rights on agriculture land and/or water, farmers and ranchers were able to take advantage of state and federal tax credits, which in many cases eased a financial burden suffered after years of drought and failing commodity prices. However, many landowners are now being subjected to audits by the IRS and the state, placing them in serious danger of losing their farms or ranches. “General consensus at the meeting is that the state has changed the rules of the game and now there is a very definite economic effect to this small part of Colorado, not only from the State of Colorado, but also from the IRS,” said Ed Hiza, local landowner.

Some landowners are facing a demand from the Colorado Department of Revenue to return all tax credits, plus penalties and interest, generated from placing a conservation easement on their property. This action appears to be based on the department’s disqualification of certain professionals associated with the easement process…

J.D. Wright, LOU president and landowner said, “LOU is pursuing every option available for a resolution to this very serious problem including meetings with legislators and the governor, and requesting legislative hearings in order to determine the perceived bias against the Lower Arkansas Valley.” Many landowners speculate the Lower Arkansas Valley has been targeted because the northern part of the state needs water from the valley to continue growth and development.

More conservation easements coverage here and here.

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