On Monday, June 5, CBS This Morning aired a piece that was inaccurate. Senator Jeff Flake's comments about alpacas with regard to tax reform were also inaccurate. We do not receive any tax breaks for raising alpacas, but we should be entitled to the same tax benefits and liabilities as other livestock owners. Here is our story, and we hope that you will contact us to discuss it further.
We both knew when we retired, we would live on a farm. Jay imagined having a cow or maybe some chickens. I dreamed of a Christmas tree farm! We stumbled upon alpacas when we visited a yarn vendor at a local craft fair in Virginia. She was selling alpaca yarn and had a picture of their very first cria (baby alpaca). We struck up a nice conversation and as we walked away, Jay said “THAT’S what we should do when we retire!” Before we left, we returned to her booth and asked more questions.
We took some time to learn all we could about the alpaca industry and in 2008, we purchased our first one! Because we did not own our own farm yet we chose to agist (board). Two years ago, I retired from the school system, and Jay retired from the US Army and we moved to our very own farm in PA last summer. Our herd moved about a month later. We currently have 15 alpacas, 2 llamas, 2 pigs and 5 chickens. Jay looked into the tax implications for us and ultimately was most comfortable listing us as a hobby farm.
Many alpaca owners do not depend on alpacas for a living. We depend on outside income such as pensions or other jobs.
Alpaca business owners receive NO “special alpaca tax benefit.” They have the same deductions as any other livestock or small business owner in America. We consider ourselves entrepreneurs. We send some fleece to coops to be included in larger runs, with the understanding that we are contributing to the goal of building a national alpaca fleece industry. Because our farm is so small, we don't have a lot to contribute, but we send what we can. We sell yarn and alpaca fleece to crafters. We sell alpaca garments to those who love them -- and that increases demand for an ultimate fleece industry. People are beginning to look for it.
If sheep and cows hadn't come to this country with European colonists, there would not be the current demand for wool and milk. If sheep and cows had come to this country in the last 30 years, the wool and dairy industries would be doing exactly what we're doing -- introducing people to wool and dairy products, and trying to build demand.
We are disappointed the CBS This Morning segment was not more reflective of a strong industry of farmers and entrepreneurs who are in this livestock industry as a true business.
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We are Jay & Kathy Brown of Sugar Hollow Farm Alpacas in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Learn more about us here.