December 11, 2017

North Dakota Farmers Union State Convention Slated for Dec. 15-16

NDFUNorth Dakota’s largest farm organization will kick off its 91st annual state convention in Bismarck on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Bismarck Event Center. A mix of educational speakers, entertainment, policy debate, elections, youth achievement recognition and a visit from royalty, all highlight this year’s event.

On Friday morning, Dr. Frayne Olson, a crops economist and marketing specialist from NDSU, will conduct a pre-convention seminar at 8:30 a.m. on market outlooks globally. Well-known ag analyst Mike Pearson will also share his market insights with Farmers Union members on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

Educational breakout sessions will be held Friday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. on health care, FSA producer loans, and our state’s climate outlook. Dr. Adnan Akyuz will share his long-range climate predictions and the consequential opportunities and challenges for farmers and ranchers. As North Dakota’s climatologist, he’ll also address the 2017 drought and moisture outlook for 2018.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is expected to address members on Friday evening. Policy debate, election of officers, Farmers Union Insurance’s annual meeting, live and silent auctions, and entertainment by farmer/comedian Jerry Carroll, and the Johnny Holm Band round out the two-day celebration.

Of special highlight on Saturday evening is an address by newly crowned Miss America Cara Mund, who will be speaking to the 2017 Torchbearer Class. Twenty youth will earn their Torchbearer award, the highest honor a youth can achieve in the Farmers Union youth program. Mund is the first Miss North Dakota to be crowned Miss America. 

The convention is open to the public. A $70 registration fee is required. Activities for youth and daycare are also provided throughout the convention. To see a complete agenda or to register, go to ndfu.org or call 1-800-366-8331.

NDFU Warns that Farmers Should Be Aware of Tax Reform Implications

NDFU

While the U.S. House of Representatives’ newly passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aims to simplify the tax code and cut taxes for individuals and corporations, it may possibly raise the tax burden on family farmers and ranchers if left unchecked by the U.S. Senate or conference committee, according to North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) President Mark Watne.

Provisions that are important to agriculture like deductions on state and local taxes, accelerated depreciation (Section 179), carryback provisions, “like kind” exchanges, and Section 199 for cooperatives could be eliminated, capped or reduced depending upon the outcome of congressional action. Watne said the lowering of individual tax rates may not be enough to offset the elimination of these deductions.

“With the rush in Congress to pass tax reforms by year end, there are just too many unknowns,” Watne said. “We need to slow down, get the nonpartisan CBO score and determine exactly what the tax implication is for farmers, especially if tax cuts aren’t offset by growth in GDP. The last thing we need on the farm is increased taxes.”

Watne said statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules require that increases in deficit spending be offset by reduced spending in non-exempt mandatory programs, such as ARC, PLC, disaster assistance programs for commodities, and administrative costs for crop insurance delivery.

“I’m very concerned about the pot of money we will have available to write farm bills,” said Watne. “The baseline for farm bill funding has been cut already by $100 billion over the past 10 years. It’s too low of a benchmark to begin with and we can’t afford to slash farm programs, like crop insurance, to fund tax cuts. That would be disastrous for agriculture and for our country.”

Watne said Farmers Union is working with others to develop a tool that farmers can access online to determine what their tax burden will be given different tax scenarios.

NDFU Website