House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas Calls Extension of 2008 Farm Bill a MiracleWed, 02 Jan 2013 03:12:05 CST
On New Year's Night- the US House voted 257 to 167 to approve the Senate passed "Affordable Taxpayer Relief Act" that will keep income tax rates from rising for returns from individuals with earned income less than $400,000- or $450,000 for a couple. It makes permanent the so called "Bush Tax Cuts" for those under this threshold- and apparently also offers a permanent solution to the Alternative Minimum Tax which has had to be patched annually in recent years- keeping it from snaring millions of Americans with an even higher tax bill in 2012.
The Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Frank Lucas, Third District Congressman from Oklahoma, voted in favor of the measure- he was one of 85 Republicans that joined 173 Democrats to pass the measure. Lucas told Farm Director Ron Hays right after the vote that "I voted in favor of lowering taxes, I voted in favor of extending the 2008 Farm Bill for an additional year." He called the extension of the 2008 farm law through the end of September very good news for the farm community. "In the environment we are working in- it is absolutely a miracle that we got it done."
You can hear Congressman Lucas' comments with Hays by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
In addition to the extension of the 2008 Farm Law, the bill offers some permanence for the levels of exemption found the last two years in the Estate Tax, which has been a major priority for many within the farm and ranch community. The exemption levels now have been set in this Senate passed measure at five million dollars for an individual and ten million dollars for a couple. The tax rate for everything in the estate above those thresholds is set at 40 percent, up from the 35 percent level that had been in force the last two years. Very importantly for future years- the exemption amounts are indexed for inflation, which was fought for by several key Republicans and Democratic Senator Max Baccus.
The measure also includes the limited one year extension of the 2008 farm law that the Chairman referred to. It will extend the farm safety net for another crop year (2013) and will extend the Dairy program- minus the reforms that had been proposed by both the Senate Farm Bill and the one passed by the House Ag Committee in 2012. While the Senate package did not include the latest dairy reform, it does slightly modify the MILC program. It largely set the parameters for FY13 as they were in FY12. The MILC program automatically reverted to a more austere version on September 1 (this was done in the 2008 farm bill to save money). The Senate bill would remove that provision and largely would allow MILC to function as it did in FY12.
The most obvious missing component of the Senate extension within the Fiscal Cliff bill is not reinstating the Ag Disaster Assistance programs that expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011- which includes the Livestock Disaster Programs that have been badly needed in 2012.
It does provide funding for the ag export cost share programs like MAP and FMD that are essential to keeping organizations like US Wheat Associates and the US Meat Export Federation funded here in 2013.
To review the entire proposal, click here for the Affordable Taxpayer Relief Act.
Midday Tuesday- Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn offered the following statement about why he voted in favor of the Fiscal Cliff proposal:
“While this bill is far from perfect, it does prevent massive tax increases while making tax cuts permanent for 99 percent of Americans. Congress and the president, however, have a lot of work to do to address our long-tern spending problem. Our debt - which is 120 percent of our economy if you count federal, state and local debt - is still the greatest threat to our national security. We will never address that threat until Congress and the president acknowledge that the only way to save entitlement programs is to change them.”
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