As 2017 ends, Farm Bureau can reflect on a year of action on behalf of farmers and ranchers.
Most recently, both the House and Senate passed Farm Bureau-supported tax reform plans, with lower income tax rates and continued provisions to help farmers balance out fluctuations in revenue and expenses. Plus, both bills double the estate tax exemption and continue stepped-up basis, which sets the value of inherited assets at the time of transfer, reducing the taxable gain. It’s great to see action on the long-sought goal of tax reform that rewards hard work and takes the volatility of farm and ranch income into account.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced it would review the Waters of the U.S. rule that the previous administration put out in 2015. Farm Bureau waged an all-out campaign to ditch the WOTUS rule because it gave federal regulators too much control over farming and ranching on thousands of acres—far beyond what is needed to protect water. Now, we are encouraging the EPA to rescind the 2015 WOTUS rule and ensure new regulations are limited to what is necessary and appropriate under the law. The administration is also reviewing other regulations for potential reforms, and Farm Bureau has weighed in with recommendations.
The administration also announced it would reduce the size of two federal monuments, the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase – Escalante monuments, that had been enlarged by the Obama administration. The Antiquities Act requires the president to reserve the smallest area necessary to protect land of historic or scientific interest. However, too often the law has been abused to prevent farmers and ranchers from using the land for grazing or water resources. The current administration’s action corrects the previous one’s abuse of power and returns some common sense to natural resource management.
As 2018 nears, we set our sights on enacting a new farm bill that maintains reliable risk management programs, on continuing to defend our trade agreements and work to reach new ones, and on finally addressing the ag labor shortage that threatens our ability to grow and harvest U.S.-grown food.
I hope you are proud of everything you have accomplished on your farms and in your communities this year, and I wish everyone a merry Christmas!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. You can follow him on Twitter @ZippyDuvall.