News Bites

Farm Bureau supports legislation against estate tax increases—The American Farm Bureau Federation is supporting legislation that would block a recent IRS proposal regarding estate taxes.

The IRS proposal, if approved, would mean farmers and ranchers would have to pay more in estate taxes. Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have introduced a bill to block the IRS proposal.

“The IRS is proposing to take away an estate planning tool that allows farmers and ranchers to reduce the value of their business assets for estate tax purposes,” said AFBF tax specialist Pat Wolff. “This means that farmers and ranchers could end up paying more estate taxes when a family member dies.”

Wolff says most farms and ranches are owned by a family, but high estate taxes make transfer of ownership within the family harder.

AFBF supports the legislation seeking to block the IRS proposal, House bill H.R. 6100 and Senate bill S. 3436.

The leaders on these bills are hoping to pass them before the end of the year and any farmer or rancher who’s concerned about this proposed estate tax increase should contact their senator and representative and ask them to cosponsor these bills. (AFBF 10/7/16)

Congress approves bill updating livestock marketing methods—Congress has approved a bill clarifying that modern livestock marketing methods are covered by the Packers and Stockyard Act of 1921. The legislation also updates methods of payments to include electronic funds transfers. The measure, according to Farm Bureau, will ensure today's livestock producers and contemporary livestock marketing practices are clearly protected by the 1921 law.

The Technical and Clarifying Amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 2016 (H.R. 5883) will make it clear that the act applies to video and Internet auctions, as well as other forms of electronic sale of livestock. Along with including electronic funds transfers, the bill will give the secretary of agriculture flexibility to approve other new methods of payment.

“Farm Bureau believes producers should have access to competitive markets that allow for effective price discovery. In today’s technology-driven businesses, livestock producers must be able to develop and use electronic marketing methods that provide access to more buyers and efficient sales transactions,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter to House members urging them to pass the bill, which they did on Sept. 26. The Senate passed the measure on Sept. 29 and President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill. (AFBF 10/3/16)

Farm Bureau backs Urban Ag Act—The American Farm Bureau Federation is backing a recently introduced bill that would give a boost to growers in urban settings.

“As an organization that supports farmers of all sizes, commodities and production systems, Farm Bureau believes this legislation will build a stronger bond among all farmers-rural, suburban and urban,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a statement.

In addition to the services and support the bill would provide to urban farmers, the legislation's research component is critical for exploring the risk management, food safety, environmental and economic factors that are key to success.

“Mentorship is a two-way street and we have much to teach and learn from each other. America's farmers lend a hand when needed; they unite around a common mission. This legislation seeds a dialogue of cooperation, whether roots sink into a rejuvenated lot in Detroit or the rolling hills of rural Georgia. Farm Bureau looks forward to being a partner in those efforts,” Duvall said. (AFBF 9/27/16)

Farm Bureau asks president, Congress to move swiftly on TPP—The American Farm Bureau Federation, the Coalition of Services Industries, the Information Technology Industry Council and the National Association of Manufacturers today called on the president and congressional leadership to work together to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement by year-end.

In a letter sent Sept. 21, presidents of the four groups laid out the important benefits expected to accrue from the deal – an accord that will give American farms, ranches and companies access to nearly 500 million consumers in the Asia-Pacific region.

“As the most productive industries in the world, our enterprises need access to new consumers and markets to sustain, let alone grow, production and good-paying jobs,” the groups wrote. “Yet, U.S. industries face increasing competition as our global competitors are benefitting from trade deals that exclude and disadvantage the United States. …The status quo is not acceptable for industries that need new markets to sustain and grow our workforces in the United States.” (AFBF 9/21/16)