Tax package benefitting farmers passes House

Legislative Watch: Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act; EPA meat processor rule under fire; FAIR Labels Act.

Eric Bohl

February 2, 2024

3 Min Read
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A bipartisan tax relief bill passed the House of Representatives Wednesday night by a wide margin. In the final tally, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act passed 357-70. This 84% favorable vote included over 78% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats, making it one of the strongest bipartisan bills in recent memory.

The bill would increase the child tax credit for families and restore small business tax breaks for research and development expensing, interest deductibility and Section 179 immediate expensing. Farmers rely on these provisions to help with farmland and large equipment purchases. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) negotiated the bill with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Upon passage in the House, Smith said, “This tax package is pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-American. Both the $600 billion of pro-growth tax incentives that benefit job creators and the structure and work requirements of the Child Tax Credit in this legislation were first signed into law by President Trump. … Because of this bill, working parents crushed by high prices will have an easier time putting food on the table, more things will be made here in America, and the nation will be more competitive with China.”

EPA meat and poultry processor rule under fire

A new rule tightening regulations on water discharges from meat and poultry plants is drawing pushback from Capitol Hill. A new bill introduced by Reps. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) and Ron Estes (R-Kan.) titled Banning EPA’s Encroachment of Facilities, or the “BEEF Act,” would bar EPA from moving forward with the new provisions. The rule would apply to hundreds of meat processing plants across the nation and require them to install costly new wastewater treatment equipment and processes.

According to a joint press release from the lawmakers, the bill would “prohibit the EPA from finalizing, implementing or enforcing a new EPA proposed rule entitled Clean Water Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Meat and Poultry Products Point source category.” The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“The EPA’s newly proposed regulation isn’t just an attack on family-run small businesses, it's an attack on rural communities, like Southwest Missouri,” said Burlison. “These meat and poultry processors are the lifeblood of our communities and instead of supporting them, the Biden EPA is on the attack. The BEEF Act cuts through bureaucratic nonsense and lets these hardworking Americans do what they do best, produce safe, affordable food for our families.”

EPA held a virtual public hearing on the rule last week and an in-person hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Many commenters requested an extension of time to consider the rule, due to its complexity and potential impact.

New bill would require labeling on alternative meats

As plant-based and cell-cultured meats have become more prominent, some state legislatures have moved to tighten rules on their labeling and marketing. This week, the effort moved to the federal level with Rep. Mark Alford’s (R-Mo.) introduction of the Fair and Accurate Ingredient Representation on Labels Act, or “FAIR Labels Act.” 

The bill would require protein products that are plant based or lab grown to be labeled with wording that specifies their origin. Alford was joined by Republican Roger Williams from Texas and two Democrats, Don Davis (N.C.) and Jonathan Jackson (Ill.). Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture Committee for consideration.

“The American consumer deserves to know what they are eating and feeding their families,” Alford said. “Whether they choose protein substitutes like plant-based or lab-grown meat or traditionally raised meat, the product should be labeled clearly. Farmers and ranchers across the country work from sun-up to sun-down to produce high-quality and nutritious meat for consumers. It is only fair that all products are labeled fairly. This begins with transparent and appropriate labeling laws which our legislation requires.”

About the Author(s)

Eric Bohl

Eric Bohl is an agricultural policy leader with extensive experience on Capitol Hill. He served six years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and previously served as Legislative Director to Rep. Hartzler. During that time, he led her work on the House Agriculture Committee and was influential in efforts to craft the 2014 Farm Bill, as well as handling environmental, energy, transportation and infrastructure, and agricultural trade issues.

Eric’s experience starts at the ground level. His family has deep roots in both animal and row-crop farming going back several generations. This understanding of the unique challenges real farmers face brings valuable perspective to help solve clients’ needs. His midwestern values also allow him to build meaningful relationships with people on both sides of the political aisle and find common-sense solutions that transcend partisan lines.

This approach has continued to be the cornerstone of Eric’s career in grassroots advocacy. He served more than five years as Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for Missouri Farm Bureau. He was a senior member of the organization’s legislative team and led communications and coalition advocacy efforts, including on the 2018 Farm Bill. His writings on agriculture and rural policy have been published in newspapers across the nation. He serves as First Vice President of the St. Louis Agribusiness Club and is a board member of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City, two of the nation’s largest and strongest organizations supporting agribusinesses.

Before his career in public policy, Eric was a practicing attorney for nearly five years, focusing on real estate and agricultural law, commercial transactions, and commercial litigation. Eric earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, graduating from both programs with honors, and served as the Managing Editor of the Missouri Law Review.

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