November 20, 2017

Ross: Special Interest, Like Ag, Making NAFTA Talks Harder

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pointed a finger at special interest groups, including those in agriculture, as reason for hiccups in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation. Ross earlier this week said the U.S. will “continue to take a hard line” on its proposals as talks get under way in Mexico City. Speaking at an event Tuesday, Ross said the negotiating environment has only grown more complicated because of industries like agriculture that have voiced a greater level of concern over the direction the administration is taking. Specifically, Ross said: “As one special interest group, say agriculture, for example, gets nervous, they start screaming and yelling publicly.” He says action from special interest groups “complicates the environment” and “makes the negotiations harder.” However, the administration has continually threatened to remove the U.S. from NAFTA, a move agriculture groups call an economic disaster.

USFRA Announces Four New Board Members

Representing the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, John Deere, DuPont Pioneer and American Egg Board, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s® (USFRA®) newest board members are critical to ensure farmers and ranchers are present in influential conversations about food and agriculture. James Adams, Steve Geick, Amanda Rinehart and Blair Van Zetten join the 18-member Board of Directors. USFRA welcomes these new board members, and the American Egg Board, to our organization which is comprised of more than 100 affiliates and industry partners.

“We’re pleased to have such talented individuals join as Directors and help our organization engage with consumers and food influencers about how their food is grown and raised,” said Brad Greenway, USFRA Chairman and South Dakota crop and livestock farmer. “In my second year as chairman, I am proud to lead this group that is so passionate in answering consumers’ questions about the use of GMOs, animal care and health, as well as other sustainable agricultural practices.”

USFRA elected these four board members at its Fall board meeting on November 7 in Kansas City, Mo:

  • James Adams, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association – Jim is a former chairman of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of the Wenger Group and Acting Chief Operating Officer of Wenger Feeds, LLC in Rheems, Pa. He resides in Mount Joy, Pa., with his wife, Karen.
  • Steve Geick, John Deere – Steve is the Director of Industry Relations for John Deere’s Agricultural and Turf Division. He works with stakeholders across North America who share an interest in the future of agriculture, and he proactively builds and promotes influential relationships, programs and policies in his role.
  • Amanda Rinehart, DuPont Pioneer – Amanda is the U.S. Marketing Leader for DuPont Pioneer, where she manages a team focused on seed product strategy and promotion as well as strategic account sales management. She also serves as Vice Chair of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. Amanda resides in Johnston, Iowa, with her husband Jeremy and their two children.
  • Blair Van Zetten, American Egg Board – Blair is the President of Oskaloosa Food Products, a processor of liquid, frozen and dried eggs. He is the Immediate Past Chairman of the American Egg Board and works with his son on their third-generation family farm in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

During the board meeting, USFRA showcased its consumer-facing activities in 2017, including SMART Farm, Straight Talk on Sustainability, Discovering Farmland and Faces of Farming & Ranching. Additionally, USFRA unveiled its upcoming programs and major initiatives for 2018, including the Food Evolution film promotion and enhanced distribution and its new app, engAGe, which aims to activate farmer and rancher voices on digital and social media platforms.

About U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®)
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of more than 100 farmer and rancher led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers’ efforts to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture. To learn more, visit our website at www.fooddialogues.com. You can also find USFRA on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Groups Call on House to Preserve Section 199, Ensure Farmers Do Not Face Tax Increase

Over 180 agricultural organizations, cooperatives and other agribusinesses on Monday sent a letter to the House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposing repeal of the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, also known as Section 199. H.R. 1, the House tax reform legislation, would eliminate Section 199.

“Ending the Section 199 deduction for agriculture would result in many individual farmers paying more in taxes, as most do not pay under the corporate code and the current proposal will not overcome the loss of the deduction,” the groups write. “In many cases farmers will see a double-digit increase in their tax bill under the proposed plan.”

Passed as part of the “American Jobs Creation Act of 2004,” Section 199 recognizes the unique challenges presented within the cooperative business model by allowing cooperatives to deduct the proceeds earned from products that are manufactured, produced, grown, or extracted and pass those deductions directly back to their farmer-members. The support Section 199 provides to rural communities is critical. In fact, farmer cooperatives pass 95 percent of the benefit—nearly $2 billion nationally—directly back to farmers across rural America. Farmers can then deduct their share of the Section 199 benefit from their farms’ tax burden.

The letter emphasizes that with most of agriculture is facing the fourth consecutive year of stagnant prices, now is not the time to raise the tax burden on farmers, ranchers and growers.

“Section 199 should be preserved in order to protect the good paying jobs and the economic return generated by the presence of farmer-owned cooperatives in rural communities. We encourage you to preserve Section 199 for agriculture as part of any tax reform efforts,” the letter concludes. “As a matter of basic fairness, we need you to consider tax reform that will lower rates on businesses broadly but does not raise taxes on farmers.”

A copy of the letter, including the list of all signing organizations, can be found online at http://ncfc.org/letter/180-groups-call-congress-preserve-section-199-agriculture/.

About NCFC

Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of over 2,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.

America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.