Legislative Watch: Ag groups urge Congress to keep stepped-up basis; Congressional members ask that Vietnam eliminate pork tariffs; Senate confirms Bronaugh as deputy secretary.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

May 14, 2021

5 Min Read
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A group of 13 House Democrats representing agricultural districts are letting the House Democratic leadership know they are opposed to the stepped-up-basis for capital gains proposal and its potential impact on family farms. They are asking that family-owned farms and small businesses be exempted.

"The repeal of stepped-up basis for capital gains and immediate taxation could especially hurt family farms, some of which have been in families for generations; therefore, we strongly urge you to provide full exemptions for these family farms and small businesses that are critical to our communities,” the representatives wrote in a letter to House leadership.

They continued: "While the ability to simply sell a small part of an asset may work for those with shares of stocks, [a change] would force farmers to break up land that may have been in their family for decades and seriously impact their ability to remain economically viable. Farms, ranches, and some family businesses require strong protections from this tax change to ensure they are not forced to be liquidated or sold off for parts, and that need is even stronger for those farms that have been held for generations.”

Those signing the letter were Representatives Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Jim Costa, D-Calif., Julia Brownley, D-Calif., Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., Angie Craig, D-Minn., Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., John Garamendi, D-Calif., Josh Harder, D-Calif., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., and Kim Schrier, D-Wash.

Ag groups urge Congress to keep stepped-up basis

Over 40 agricultural organizations are calling on Congress to keep the current rules for capital gains, including the stepped-up basis.

The organizations wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders: "With more than 370 million acres expected to change hands in the next two decades, the policies Congress enacts now

will determine agricultural producers’ ability to secure affordable land to start or expand their operations. Regardless of whether a business has already been passed down through multiple generations or is just starting out, the key to their longevity is a continued ability to transition when a family member or business partner dies. For this reason, we believe the current estate tax exclusion limits must be maintained."

Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Grange, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and North American Renderers Association. 

U.S. farm air pollution leads to 17,900 deaths annually

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, air pollution from agricultural production in the U.S. account for 17,900 deaths each year, of which 15,900 are from food production. Air pollution from animal agriculture is the worst emitter, according to the study, accounting for 80% of the deaths from pollution related to food production. More deaths are caused by emissions from agriculture than pollution from coal power plants. 

According to the study, on-farm interventions can reduce PM2.5-related mortality by 50%.  "This includes improved livestock waste management and fertilizer application practices that reduce emissions of ammonia, a secondary PM2.5 precursor, and improved crop and animal production practices that reduce primary PM2.5 emissions from tillage, field burning, livestock dust, and machinery." 

The study also says shifting diets to more plant-based foods could reduce agricultural air quality-related mortaility by 68% to 83%.

Congressional members ask that Vietnam eliminate pork tariffs

A bipartisan group of more than 70 U.S. Representatives are asking U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to press Vietnam to eliminate tariffs on U.S. pork. 

The Representatives in a letter to Tai said that Vietnam represents a great opportunity for U.S. pork exports as proven when Vietnam temporarily reduced tariff rates for frozen pork last year.

The Representatives wrote in the letter: "Vietnam did take an initial step forward last year in addressing the U.S. pork tariff disadvantage when it temporarily reduced its Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rates from 15% to 10% for frozen pork products. Although this temporary duty reduction expired at the end of 2020, we saw U.S. pork exports double in the second half of 2020 compared to the first half of the year. The surge in U.S. exports during the tariff reprieve coupled with Vietnam’s growing population and cultural preference for high-quality pork demonstrate that the United States is barely scratching the surface of its export potential to Vietnam."

The letter was organized by Representatives Ron Kind, D-Wisc., Darin LaHood, R-Illi., Jim Costa, D-Calif., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.

Free school meals

All school meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) would be free to all school children regardless of income under the proposed "Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021." The legislation would make permanent the universal free lunch approach implemented by USDA during the coronavirus pandemic and recently extended through the 2021-2022 school year.

USDA estimates 12 million school children lived in food insecure homes during the height of the pandemic.

Senate confirms Bronaugh as deputy secretary

The Senate by a voice vote confirmed the nomination of Jewel Bronaugh to be the deputy secretary of agriculture. Most recently, Bronaugh served as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to which she was appointed in 2018.  Previously, she served as the Virginia State executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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