FERGUS FALLS, Minn., Jan. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Longtime small business and agricultural advocacy group Communicating for America (CA) says the bipartisan compromise over the estate tax levels included in the legislation passed to avoid the "fiscal cliff" will allow for the successful future transition of family farms and businesses from one generation to the next. "Reverting to the pre-2001 level of a $1 million exemption and 55% rate would have been disastrous for family-owned businesses and farms," said CA Vice President Ben Schierer. "We are very pleased to see that Congress was able to set politics aside on the important issue of the estate tax for America's small business." CA is an active member of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition (FBETC), which supported maintaining the 2010 compromise of an exemption level of $5 million and the maximum rate of 35 percent. The new compromise raises the maximum rate to 40%, but it also indexes the exemption level to inflation, and provides for spousal transfer. According to a recent post-election survey, CA members, which include farmers, small business owners and the self-employed across the United States, supported the measure by more than 87%. Schierer noted that farms and small businesses would have been the hardest hit if rates were allowed to rise. "A farmer's assets are in his land, and many would have been forced to sell that land to pay the new taxes rather than transition that land to the next generation," said Schierer. "The same would have been true for scores of small businesses. The rate and exemption levels have changed a number of times in the past 10 years, and that makes estate tax planning difficult. The permanent, indexed exemption level will allow small businesses to make sound decisions about their future estate tax planning."