Just days after Congress passed a nine-month extension of the 2008 farm bill, agriculture advocacy groups are pushing for a new, comprehensive five-year farm bill.
Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is on the same page. In February, Lucas wants to revisit the farm bill passed out of his committee last summer.
“We hope he keeps that timetable,” says Danny Murphy, president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) and Canton, Miss., farmer. “With how everything was drug out in 2012 it probably isn’t too soon to begin (on a new five-year farm bill) immediately. Hopefully, it gets done quickly and we’ll know what to expect in 2014 and beyond.
“The ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations didn’t really deal with sequestration. That was put off until March 1. We thought the farm bill might be included before Christmas in the negotiations because of the $25 billion-plus savings (it would have provided).
“We’ll be asking the House and Senate to come together, move forward and get a new farm bill in place.”
While disappointed at the inability of Congress to pass a new farm bill, Murphy is “pleased with a number of provisions in the extension.” Three, he says, stand out.
- The estate tax -- $10 million for a couple and indexed for inflation.
“This was a big win for farmers and small businessmen,” says Murphy. “That’s something the ASA and a number of farm groups have been working on for several years.
“At one time, we thought the estate tax would have to be in a standalone bill. It was a little surprising to see it in the extension package.”
- The biodiesel tax credit extension.
“This is a big deal for soybean farmers. It will be a $1 tax credit retroactive to January 2012 and go all the way through December 2013.
“The EPA-approved mandate for biodiesel is 1.28 billion gallons for 2013. About half of that comes from soybeans. Something like a quarter of the soy oil produced in the United States goes to soy biodiesel.
“The tax credit will help make sure we reach the (mandate), increase supply, and help ensure our industry keeps growing.”
- Continued funding for the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Program.
“With over 57 percent of our soybeans being exported it’s important we keep growing the overseas markets. That funding will allow us to continue promotion work without much interruption.”
Full farm bill coverage here.