Farm Bureau Urges Quick Passage of Omnibus, Tax Extender Bills



The Montana Farm Bureau applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) and urges the House to vote “yea” on the Omnibus Spending Bill. MFBF hopes Senate will also promptly pass those bills, noting that they will benefit Montana agriculture.


“The tax bills that will especially help farmers and ranchers are Section 179, small business expensing and bonus depreciation. Passing these tax extender bills will help farmers make plans for the coming year and make wise expenditure decisions for the end of 2015,” noted MFBF President Bob Hanson. “This will allow farmers and ranchers to spend money in their rural communities, buy equipment and invest back into their farms and ranches.”


The Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which is included in the Omnibus bill, provides $21.75 billion in discretionary funding, which is $925 million above FY15 enacted level and $34 million below the president’s budget request. What’s in it for agriculture?  Dietary guidelines based on significant scientific agreement focused on nutritional information; money for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services; Agriculture in the Classroom program; agricultural research; wildfire prevention programs; funding for the Food & Drug Administration; Payment in Lieu of Taxes which is essential for funding rural schools; prohibits funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to place sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List; exemption from greenhouse gas regulations for livestock producers, conservation programs and support for international food programs.


Farm Bureau is also supporting omnibus provisions to repeal of country-of-origin labeling requirements, which would effectively prevent Canada and Mexico from initiating retaliatory actions. Farm Bureau supports COOL programs that are in line with world trade rules. Current COOL programs risk serious retaliation by Canada and Mexico now that the World Trade Organization has approved more than $1 billion in tariffs against American beef, pork and other U.S. commodities if COOL is not changed.


The Montana Farm Bureau was disappointed that two aspects of the omnibus bill were missing, namely language to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and language that would have set a standard for labeling food containing genetically modified ingredients. Congress’s failure to act will bring the heavy cost of a patchwork of state labeling mandates to farmers and consumers as early as next month.


As for WOTUS, MFBF expressed dismay that despite opposition to it from farmers, ranchers, municipalities and many more, the rule did not get removed in the omnibus package.


“The Government Accountability Office found the EPA unlawfully promoted WOTUS, the courts are seriously concerned about the legality of WOTUS, so we’re dismayed to see that Congress did not stop EPA in the omnibus bill,” noted Hanson. “Farm Bureau will continue to urge Congress to make sure this devastating rule is ditched.”


Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation

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