PROVIDENCE – Three state legislators were honored last week by the R.I. Farm Bureau during the organization’s 60th annual awards event.
Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr., D-Warren, and Rep. Donna M. Walsh, D-Charlestown, were the recipients of a new award, the “Navigator” award, presented by the bureau. The award was created to honor state legislators and/or officials who have been instrumental in helping the organization deal with and address concerns about government regulations and procedures.
Felag and Walsh were the Senate and House sponsors of legislation that was incorporated into the state budget that requires the state to assess inherited working farmland at its use value, not its higher cash value, for inheritance tax purposes. Previously, family farms were assessed at their “full and fair” cash value, the value of the land if it were to be developed.
Although an average Rhode Island family farm is about 50 acres and might be worth about $650,000 as a working farm, it could be worth approximately $5 million as house lots, costing the heirs about $500,000 in inheritance taxes. The bureau said that the result has often been that heirs of the farm were forced to sell all or part of the land to pay the tax bill.
Also honored by the Farm Bureau was Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, who received the 2013 “Golden Tractor” award as the person who has done the most to help Rhode Island agriculture.
Sosnowski is chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment & Agriculture and serves as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. •