Clock Ticking for Farmers on Tax Reform

Credit: Architect of the Capitol / CC0 

By Zippy Duvall

Farming doesn’t come with a steady paycheck or a guaranteed salary. Yet, America’s farmers and ranchers work hard every day to keep our nation’s food supply secure and affordable, all while bearing the brunt of the risks involved in our high-input, capital-intensive businesses. 

A lot is at stake for farmers and ranchers, especially when it comes to tax reform. We need a tax code that gives us flexibility to keep our businesses running from one season to the next. We can’t predict the markets or the weather when we plan for a growing season, but the right tools can help us manage the risks we face through good times and bad. Our tax system should encourage entrepreneurship, not punish people for their success. Farm Bureau is calling on lawmakers to work together to revise our tax code in a way that treats all businesses fairly and boosts our local economies. 

Our tax system should encourage entrepreneurship, not punish people for their success.

The clock is ticking for Congress and comprehensive tax reform. The seeds were planted and watered when several members of Congress introduced a Blueprint for Tax Reform a year ago this summer. Now the crop is ready for harvest. And if lawmakers don’t act this fall, tax reform could die on the vine. Your representatives and senators need to hear from you when they’re home this August. Now is the time to tell them what tax reform means for your family, your farm and your livelihood.

All farmers and ranchers deserve fair treatment under the tax code. Ninety-nine percent of farms are family owned today, and more than 95 percent of farms and ranches are treated the same as individual taxpayers by the IRS. No matter its size, no farm should be shut out from the deductions and provisions that are designed to help businesses create jobs and boost the economy.

Lawmakers can’t change the markets and the weather, but they can enact policies to support and preserve agriculture. 

As important as lower tax rates are, they shouldn’t come at the cost of other provisions agriculture depends on. Farmers and ranchers can’t afford to lose deductions, credits and exemptions such as cash accounting, deductions for interest expense, stepped-up basis for capital gains, and like-kind exchanges.

Tax code provisions like these allow farmers to manage their cash flow, control the timing of their expenses, replace equipment and secure business loans. Cutting out any of these provisions from the tax code will mean higher taxes for farmers and ranchers.

Farmers and ranchers aren’t asking for a pass on taxes. We’re asking for lawmakers to write a fair and simple tax code that recognizes the unique needs of our businesses and the value of our work. We know the importance of being good stewards of all our resources, and we know our farm dollars yield a greater harvest for all of us when we’re free to invest in growing the food, fuel and fiber our nation needs to be secure.

Zippy Duvall

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.

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