November 20, 2017

Ag Groups Offer Mixed Reaction To Passage Of Tax Reform Bill

House Republicans passed their version of tax reform with  votes to spare (227-205), while Senate Republicans waged battle with Democrats in committee to advance their bill.

Majority Republicans stayed largely unified amid solid Democratic opposition. Their win was a key victory in efforts to advance the GOP legislation that still faces a tough battle in the Senate, where Republicans have a razor-thin majority and can afford to lose just two-votes and still pass their bill.

Key for Agriculture, the House bill ends the estate tax by 2024, the Senate doubles the exclusion for couples and individuals, but sunsets that in ten-years, and both keep ‘stepped-up basis’ for valuing assets.

House GOP Whip, Steve Scalise. . . .

Scalise

Both bills also reduce the so-called ‘pass-through’ small business tax rate on salaries and wages, cut corporate rates, lower all personal tax rates, hasten and expand business expensing and cash accounting, double the standard deduction, and boost the child tax credit.

Again, the Senate sunsets lower rates after 2027, though that could be changed on the Senate floor to make the breaks permanent.  Senate Democrats charge the Senate bill’s elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate penalty would lead to millions more uninsured and higher insurance premiums—what they called a “hidden Republican tax increase.”

Republicans countered, premiums are already skyrocketing even with the mandate penalty, as insurers leave Obamacare marketplaces amid declining revenues

Farm groups offered a mixed reaction to House passage of a tax reform package. The American Farm Bureau Federation called the action a “step closer to a tax code that works for all farmers and ranchers.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called the passage a “step in the right direction,” noting specifically the language within the package that would immediately double the death-tax exemption and put the tax on the path to extinction in five years. However, NCBA also expressed concern that the reform package would significantly limit the ability of some businesses from deducting their interest expenses. The National Council of Farmer Cooperates called passage of the bill “unfortunate,” as the organization says the reform package will raise taxes on farmers and co-ops across the country by eliminating the Section 199 deduction. And, The National Farmers Union said it was “alarmed” by the passage because the legislation would jeopardize farm bill funding, while increasing the federal debt and harming farmers and ranchers.

 

Price of Thanksgiving Dinner Lowest In Five Years

Thanksgiving is just under a week away and shoppers are hitting the grocery stores in full force. If those shoppers a looking for a deal, they’re in luck, according to the American Farm Bureau. The group’s 32nd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey says shoppers will be spending the least amount in five years.  The Survey says the average cost for a “classic” Thanksgiving dinner fell just under two percent and came in under $5 per person.  American Farm Bureau market intelligence director John Newton. . .

Thanksgiving Dinner 1

The decline was driven by lower retail turkey prices, along with lower prices for milk and rolls. The average cost of turkey this year is $22.38 for the whole bird…

Thanksgiving Dinner 2

Meanwhile, the supply of pumpkins for processing for pumpkin pie has rebounded from a couple of years ago…

Thanksgiving Dinner 3

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.  Foods showing the largest decreases this year in addition to turkey, were a gallon of milk, $2.99; a dozen rolls, $2.26; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.45; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.52; a 1-pound bag of green peas, $1.53; and a group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $2.72.

Items that increased modestly in price were: a half-pint of whipping cream, $2.08; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.81; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.21; a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, $2.43; and a 1-pound veggie tray, $.74.

Trump Appoints Thykeson as State Executive Director for FSA in ND

The Trump Administration recently appointed Brad Thykeson as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA North Dakota Farm Service Agency (FSA). Thykeson will join the North Dakota FSA team on Monday, Nov. 27.

Thykeson, of Portland, is an owner and operator of his family farming operation in Barnes and Steele counties and has been farming for over 30 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in business education and math from Mayville State College and previously taught and coached with the May-Port CG school district in Mayville. Thykeson has served as chairman of the North Dakota Grain Growers and served on the National Wheat Growers board and the American Farm Bureau Wheat Advisory committee.

The Farm Service Agency serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs. The agency offers farmers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. FSA continues to conserve natural resources and also provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit, including special emphasis on beginning, underserved and women farmers and ranchers.

Under the direction of Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. Secretary Perdue leads the USDA with four guiding principles: to maximize the ability of American agriculture to create jobs, sell foods and fiber, and feed and clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure; and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we live in a global economy where trade is of top importance, Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

As SED, Thykeson will use his leadership experience to oversee FSA programs in a customer-focused manner to ensure a safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food supply for consumers.