Over 30 agricultural organizations are urging Congress to provide farmers and ranchers with permanent relief from the estate tax.  In a letter to the House of Representatives and the Senate, the organizations urged lawmakers to extend the exemption level and retain the 35% rate until permanent repeal is achieved. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said, “America’s farmers and ranchers are small business owners who cannot afford to foot the bill for government inaction. The fate of American agriculture and our economic recovery rests on there being certainty in the tax code and continued relief from the burdensome death tax.” The exemption for 2012 is $5.12 million with the tax rate on an estate’s value above the exemption of 35%.  Unless this issue is addressed in the lame duck session, beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the exemption levels drop to $1 million per individual with a tax rate of 55%. Those groups signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Group, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council.