At the start of each year, the calendar seems to hold limitless possibilities. By fall, it’s a different story. If we haven’t lost weight, saved more money, or made progress on other resolutions by now, we probably won’t keep them.
In Congress, the year seems even shorter. As of this week, there are only about 40 days left on the legislative calendar. Back in January I had high hopes of getting things done, including a regulatory reform bill and maybe even tax reform. Congress has talked about tax reform. A regulatory reform bill has passed in the House but not the Senate. But talk and half measures don’t get the job done. So, let’s take stock.
Since the House passed a Farm Bureau-supported regulatory reform bill in January, we have urged the Senate to follow suit and pass the Regulatory Accountability Act (S. 951). The bill would promote the use of sound science and cost-benefit calculations in federal rulemaking and make the process more transparent. The bill has passed in committee, but the full Senate has not acted because more supporters are needed. That’s where agricultural advocates come in: we must keep the pressure on our senators to reform the outdated regulatory process.
Congressional leaders have said they will turn their attention to tax reform this month. Everyone is waiting to see what that reform package will include. It won’t be quick or easy to balance the goal of lower rates with preserving tax breaks to advance other goals, such as business growth. But we need Congress to make it a priority. Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that helps them even out income fluctuations and invest in their farms.
Other action that needs to get done includes approval of Trump administration nominees and introduction and passage of a new farm bill before the current one expires next year.
This is just the first year of the 115th Congress, meaning we have next year to keep working on most of these issues. However, it will be more difficult to get bills passed in an election year.
The congressional to-do list is long and time is running out. Let’s engage with our senators and representatives and urge them to get things done for our farmers and ranchers.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.