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Senate Considers Beginning Farmer and Rancher Tax Credit

July 20, 2010

ROUNDUP, Mont. - Start a small farm or ranch, or open a new small business in Montana, and get a tax credit worth up to $10,000. That's what's on the table for the U.S. Senate as a "jobs bill" is being debated.

Executive director Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs says spurring micro-enterprises and entrepreneurship make a lot of sense for job creation, since those kinds of small businesses are credited as being the new job incubators.

"It's for people who create their own job by starting a small business, or get started in farming and ranching. That's the way we've created a lot of opportunity in rural America for over a century."

Hassebrook says the proposal is the first one he's seen that focuses on micro-businesses for rural areas.

"Those kinds of businesses are the backbone of our rural economy, and for too long, we really haven't kept them in mind when we've created our nation's tax policies and job creation policies."

The tax credit would only be available to those in rural communities and to new businesses with five or fewer employees, based on the premise that most economic recovery focus has been on big businesses and urban areas to date.

Bill Milton with the Billings Community Foundation in Montana welcomes the idea of a focused tax credit for rural areas.

"We favor any incentives that encourage small business to invest in our small communities, actually getting people who live here to have the incentive to create new enterprise."

The credit is part of an amendment sponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (D).

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT