Let Uncle Sugar help you buy one!
Abstractly, supporting family-based agriculture sounds good. Government policies often harm small farms by favoring corporate agribusinesses. Government could help family farms by ending the subsidies that mostly go to the big guys. But that doesn't interest the politicians. They prefer to do things like creating tax breaks to encourage livestock breeding.
The tax breaks have led to a boom in alpaca breeding. Twenty-five years ago, there were 150 alpacas in America. Now, there are 150,000.
One website even advertises: "Have Uncle Sam Help You Buy Your Alpacas."
Rose Mogerman raises alpacas in New Jersey, the most densely populated state. "I fell in love with them," she said.
But she fell in love with the tax break first.
"Yes. I have to be honest," she said. "I might have had two. I wouldn't have had 100. ... I was looking for a tax shelter."
The Alpaca Breeders Association asked its members, on a scale of 1 to 10, what motivated them to get into alpaca breeding. More than half rated "tax benefits" a 10.