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Three bills farmers need to watch

Published Sep. 24, 2009 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Buckeye Farm News

Congress may take action this fall on three bills of critical importance to farmers. According to the American Farm Bureau, here is what you should know.

Estate Tax

Set for repeal for 2010, the Estate Tax will return in 2011 at a $1 million exemption and 55 percent tax rate. Farm Bureau is seeking a higher exemption for agriculture operations, so farms and ranches are not harmed. Because estate taxes influence the sale of land, this tax can interfere with the orderly transfer of farmland to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

AFBF says it takes 2 ˝ years of farm returns for a moderate-sized farm operation to pay off the Estate Tax owed.

Climate Bill

The agriculture sector is being asked to accept higher costs from the Climate Change bill; while all farmers and ranchers will face potentially higher costs, only a few stand to benefit. While some claim the legislation is good for agriculture, most fruit and vegetable producers will not qualify for offset benefits. Not all farmers will have the capacity to site wind turbines. Western ranchers whose operations are dependent on the use of federal lands for livestock forage have very limited offset opportunities. Not all areas of the country are able to productively adopt conservation tillage practices, thus restricting their offset possibilities. Yet all producers will incur the same increased fuel, fertilizer and energy costs as all Americans.

Clean Water Restoration Act

This bill would greatly expand the regulatory reach of the Clean Water Act to the detriment of U.S. economic growth and agricultural operations. The Clean Water Act currently gives the government oversight over “navigable” waters. This bill removes the term navigable, expanding oversight to all waters.

If passed, AFBF says nearly every wet area in the nation — even if water is only present for a few days — could become regulated by the federal government. This could include everything from ditches to farm ponds to prior converted cropland and possibly groundwater.

This proposal would move the CWA beyond protecting wetlands and waterways and create a regulatory burden for farmers, ranchers and property owners.



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