Buckeye Farm News
The $787 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress will have benefits for agriculture.
OFBF Senior Director of Legislative and Regulatory Policy Adam Sharp said stimulus package investments in infrastructure, broadband and renewable energy are of particular interest to Ohio farmers.
Gov. Ted Strickland is banking part of his recently proposed state budget on the stimulus package,
of which OFBF believes a good portion of funds should be used to address infrastructure, including broadband expansion and development.
“Transportation is a key driver of economic growth, creates jobs and improves prosperity for all citizens,” Sharp said. Highways, bridges, railways, locks and dams would all be preserved, maintained and strategically built if Ohio’s transportation assets would be integrated into one efficient multi-modal system that gives travelers and shippers multiple options, according to Sharp.
In a letter to Congress, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said America’s inland navigation system plays a critical role in the economy, moving more than 1 billion tons of domestic commerce valued at more than $300 billion.
Ohio Farm Bureau supports integration, maintenance, upgrades and expansion of the state’s highway, water, rail and air systems to support Ohio’s agbioresource industry (including bioproducts), which also receives a boost through the stimulus bill.
Tax incentives in the package are aimed to increase electricity produced by biomass and an ever-growing opportunity for wind energy.
OFBF Director of Energy Services Dale Arnold said the plans for the refitting of energy transmission systems and local distribution structure will be the largest overhaul since the 1930s. “We’ve known for a number of years that we need to rebuild our systems and develop different strategies,” he said. “Through the stimulus, what has been a challenge is now becoming an opportunity. We’re happy to see advancements moving forward.”
Bioproducts made of renewable sources instead of petroleum are also growing in popularity, Sharp said, adding that it’s a bright spot in a struggling economy for state leaders to champion.
Other appropriations are geared to expand broadband communication and health information technology across rural America.
“Broadband deployment is important to economic development, especially in rural Ohio,” said Sharp. Ohio Farm Bureau supports the work of the Ohio Broadband Council and the Connect Ohio initiative in order to bring seamless broadband technology throughout the state.
“While some of these provisions will help agriculture and rural Ohio, only time will tell the overall success of the package,” Sharp said.
Other stimulus provisions supported by Farm Bureau:
– clean renewable energy bonds for state and local governments
– increased tax incentive for alternative refueling (E-85) stations
– one year Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch to prevent 26 million families from being hit by the AMT
– extension of bonus depreciation and increased small business expensing for 2009
– one year delay of the 3 percent withholding tax on government payments including many USDA payments
– an increase in the higher education tax credit