‘Find Your Voice’ on federal issues

2016_087-1107-Hoosier Farmer-1This fall, members have had (and continue to have) tremendous opportunities to find their voice in the federal policy arena.

EPA threatening farmers’ use of atrazine

The EPA recently released a draft ecological risk assessment which ignored multiple high-quality scientific studies that support the continued use of atrazine as a safe and effective herbicide. Members found their voice by generating 217 comments to the EPA, opposing their assessment. The comment period has concluded, but the EPA says it will review all the comments it received and re-evaluate its ecological risk assessment.

Additionally, federal lawmakers are taking action by urging EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and the agency to take into account the needs of farmers in determining atrazine’s future use and use sound science in finalizing their ecological risk assessment. Farm Bureau supports this “dear colleague” letter and has asked the Indiana delegation to sign on as well. INFB will keep members updated with any new developments.

IRS regulation could increase estate taxes

How assets are valued makes a dramatic difference for gift and estate tax purposes. The IRS has proposed changes to the way business assets would be valued for estate tax purposes when they are part of a family-owned partnership, LLC or corporation.

Hoosier farmers with a business structured that way would lose a valuable estate planning tool that could result in increased estate taxes. These IRS-proposed regulations will discourage families from continuing to operate and build their family businesses and pass them on to future generations.

The long-term viability of the family farm is under threat from the IRS. Farm Bureau thanks all members who found their voice by urging the Treasury Department to withdraw these proposed regulations.

WRDA negotiations coming soon

The House and Senate have each passed their own version of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (H.R. 5303, S. 2848). Both chambers are expected to negotiate a final bill which can be approved after the election and sent to President Obama for his signature.

AFBF policy supports the maintenance and improvement of the country’s transportation infrastructure, including the lock and dam system and waterways. The Water Resources Development Act provides funding to help put America’s inland waterways and port infrastructure on a solid and sustainable foundation, contributing to economic growth, jobs and global competitiveness for years.

Farm Bureau believes an efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports is vital to America’s ability to provide affordable agricultural products domestically and to compete internationally. Since over 60 percent of America's grain exports and many other important commodities (fuel, coal and agricultural inputs) move through the inland waterway system, members are encouraged to contact their federal lawmakers and ask them to support the WRDA.

Pushing TPP after the election

When the 2016 general election is concluded, Farm Bureau will ramp up efforts to urge Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement during the lame duck session (November and December). AFBF expects that TPP would increase cash receipts and net exports from Indiana by $196 million and $98.3 million per year, respectively.

It also estimates that the increased marketing opportunities for Hoosier farmers will add more than 740 jobs to the state’s economy. Eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers on Indiana’s agricultural exports to TPP-partner countries would increase trade for a range of Indiana agricultural products, including pork, beef, soybeans and processed food products.

Members are encouraged to watch their texts and emails for a TPP action alert in the near future.