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Tax Breaks For Donated Tractors
You've heard of donating automobiles for charity and getting a tax break. Now you can donate a tractor, get an even bigger tax break and have a big impact on a community in a developing country.
  "If you have a tractor in a developing country, you have power," says Ron Buikema, founder of TractorShare. The goal of his nonprofit organization is to see that tractors get into the right hands.
  Organized in 2008, TractorShare Corp. shipped its first tractor, a 35 hp Belarus with basic implements, to Limbe, Haiti, which is about four hours north of the area affected by the recent earthquake. Members of the organization had a long-standing relationship with Haiti and teamed up with Haitian firefighters, because they are renowned for not being corrupt and doing service work.
  "They have trained mechanics to maintain the equipment," Buikema says. In fact, for safety reasons, firefighters always operate the tractor. Most "farms" are 3 to 5 acres and the tractor we donated is the only one within 30 miles.
  "Tractors can be magic," Buikema says. Having a way to mechanically work the land helps farmers expand and make a living that allows their children to go to school instead of working the land by hand. With products to sell, producers need marketers and suppliers, which all help stabilize small communities. In turn, people don't need to move to large cities with high poverty and unemployment.
  Buikema, a former Marine who works in the National Security Analysis Department at Johns Hopkins University, came up with the idea for TractorShare in 2005 after a conversation with two ambassadors from Africa about the need for jobs and economic development.
  On the organization's website, Buikema writes, "After conducting research and meeting with international relations experts, government officials, academics, and agricultural experts, it became apparent that there was a critical need for farm equipment and technical expertise in developing countries."
  The five-member board, which receives no compensation and pays their own expenses, purchased the first tractor in like-new condition. The tractor they recently shipped to Port-au-Prince was a used Ford 4500 industrial tractor with a new engine and a backhoe loader that will be used for recovery and debris removal. Later it can be a dual use tractor for farming, as well as road improvement.
  Because of the earthquake, shipping was taken care of by the U.S. Dept. of Defense for disaster relief. However, TractorShare needs cash donations to cover future shipping costs of tractors to Haiti and other developing countries, including Africa -- once the organization teams up with reliable contacts in those countries.
  "We don't need 100 hp tractors. We're looking for smaller models," Buikema says. "We'd be happy to take an old Ford (or other model) that has been rebuilt. We hope for a service life of at least 5 to 10 years." Donors receive a tax deduction for the tractor's full value. The organization has teamed up with a nonprofit trucking company that provides free or discounted transportation to pick up tractors.
  "An unused tractor parked in a North America shed can be an important tool to improve not just one farm, but a whole community in a developing country," he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ron Buikema, TractorShare Corp., 16 Parkside Rd., Silver Spring, Md. 20910 (ph 301 587-7385; www.tractorshare.org).

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3