As our State Seal reflects, our region's history and traditions are deeply rooted in agriculture and fishing. Family farmers and watermen helped build communities across the Lower Eastern Shore, but their numbers are dwindling as it becomes more challenging to make a living in the fields and on the water. That's why Jim Mathias is working to promote agriculture, support watermen, and to preserve our rural heritage.
He helped reform Maryland's estate tax to protect family farms by allowing the deferral of estate tax payments on agricultural land, and by supporting a $5 million exemption on estate taxes for family farms. Jim supports additional tax reform to protect family farmers. Jim helped secure tax relief for Maryland's family farmers. He voted to extend the Homestead Property Tax Credit to agricultural ownership entities, which reduced the tax burden on family corporations.
Jim understands that the health of our Chesapeake and coastal bays are crucial to our lifestyle on the Shore. Our bays and rivers provide both recreation, and a way-of-life for our watermen.
Jim was proud to cast his vote to support offshore wind energy in Maryland. Generating power from offshore wind will help keep our waterways and air clean for generations to come while reducing Maryland's dependence of foreign sources of fossil fuels.
Jim supported responsible state investments in agricultural land preservation. He voted to invest an additional $5 million in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Fund for the purchase of agricultural preservation easements to ensure that farmland remains in use for farming.
Jim co-sponsored successful legislation to establish the Maryland Dairy Farmer Emergency Trust Fund to provide financial assistance to dairy farmers during times of economic hardship as a result of depressed milk prices. He also voted to encourage the sale of farm products grown in the state to Maryland schools.
Jim understands that we have to fight to protect our quality of life on the Lower Eastern Shore by balancing environmental preservation with the needs of our farming community. He supported smart investments in agricultural land preservation, and he stood up to urban and suburban legislators who targeted small farmers and the poultry industry with onerous regulations. When the Hudson family was under attack, Jim stood with them, and supported budget language to make sure that the Hudson family had other means to pay for the attack on their farm. In addition, thanks to Jim's leadership, onerous farm regulations have often been delayed or canceled, and farmers have had their voices heard in Annapolis. Most recently, Jim added an amendment to the state budget requiring that an economic impact study be conducted so that state lawmakers will fully understand the impact that the phosphorous management tool will have on our family farmers.
Knowing that poultry and cattle farmers need ways to dispose of excess manure, Jim supported increased funding in the State's manure transport program. Jim also voted to create incentives for establishing energy-generating cooperatives that generate power from the use of poultry litter.