New Incentives for Land Conservation

Staying on the family farm just got a little bit easier, thanks to a new law recently passed by Congress. Until now, tax deductions on voluntary conservation easements carried significant restrictions, making the prospect less attractive to many over-worked, underpaid farmers and ranchers than, say, selling their land to a developer. The new law, however, raises the cap on tax deductions from 30 percent of adjusted gross income to 50 percent—and a full 100 percent for qualifying farmers and ranchers—and triples the carry-forward period so that, depending on the value of the easement, landowners can take the same deduction for up to 15 additional years. Given the high cost of land in Gallatin County and thus the high level of temptation to sell it, these enhanced tax benefits are a huge step forward in the effort to conserve the natural character of land around Bozeman. And conservation easements such as these are a win-win solution: The landowners continue to own and manage their land, and continue to pay local taxes, while the public gets protection of resources that are an important heritage for our community. For more information on the new law or on conservation easements in general, contact the Gallatin Valley Land Trust at 587-8404 or visit