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POLICY WATCH

FB Pushes for Funding Farm Program Payments

This week, President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to maintain current level funding for the federal government through Dec. 11. This sets up another significant funding battle after the November elections. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) worked with members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation to ensure funding for USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) was included in the final bill. Last week, Democratic leaders had pushed to not include funding for the CCC which would have affected USDA’s ability to make farm program payments via the 2018 Farm Bill in October. U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) took to the Senate floor to press the importance of providing funding for the CCC. Before funding was ultimately restored for the CCC, NEFB wrote a letter to Nebraska’s House members asking them to oppose the CR if funding for the CCC was not included. Following the CR’s passage through the House after the restoration of the CCC funding, NEFB asked Senators to support the measure. Ultimately, all five members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation supported the CR that included necessary CCC funding.

Tax Relief for Livestock Producers Facing Prolonged Drought

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that certain farmers and ranchers who sold livestock early due to drought, will now have one additional year to purchase replacement livestock and defer taxes on the gain from those sales. Under current law, farmers and ranchers can defer capital gains taxes on draft, breeding, or dairy animals that are marketed early because of weather-related conditions, if replacements are purchased within four years. The IRS announced a one-year extension for farmers and ranchers located in areas where droughts have persisted more than three years, making it infeasible to purchase replacement animals. The extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2016 and some previous sales that had been granted extensions. For example, if a dairy farmer normally sold 15 cows a year but because of drought sold 25 animals, the tax on the gain of 10 cows could be deferred if the replacement is purchased within the timeframe. Producers in the following Nebraska counties qualify for this tax benefit: Adams, Arthur, Banner, Box Butte, Buffalo, Burt, Cass, Cheyenne, Clay, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dawes, Deuel, Dodge, Douglas, Dundy, Garden, Grant, Hall, Hitchcock, Kearney, Keith, Kimball, Madison, Morrill, Perkins, Phelps, Pierce, Platte, Sarpy, Saunders, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sioux, Stanton, Thurston, Washington, and Wayne.

View IRS Notice

Sen. Fischer Introduces Livestock “HAULS” Act

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) has introduced legislation to give greater flexibility and regulatory relief to livestock haulers. Nebraska Farm Bureau praised Sen. Fischer this week for introducing the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act. The HAULS Act would eliminate the requirement that ag and livestock hours-of-service (HOS) exemptions only apply during state designated planting and harvesting seasons; amend and clarify the definition of “agricultural commodities” based on feedback provided by agriculture and livestock organizations; and, authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the destination side of a haul for ag and livestock haulers. “Going back to her days in the Nebraska Legislature, Senator Fischer has been a long-time champion of a common-sense approach to transportation rules and regulations. The HAULS Act provides needed regulatory relief to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and ag haulers. We appreciate the introduction of this important piece of legislation, and we stand ready to work with Senator Fischer to ensure it becomes law,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. Under current regulations, livestock haulers often find themselves in difficult situations where compliance with HOS regulations work against the health and well-being of the animals and the drivers.   

HAULS Act

Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer has introduced legislation targeted to addressing ongoing challenges in cattle markets. The four main provisions of the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 include:

  1. Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement.
  2. Require USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers and require packers to supply this information to the USDA. 
  3. Make clear that all information should be reported in a manner that ensures confidentiality, and note, “Nothing in this section permits the Secretary, or any officer or employee of the Secretary, to withhold from the public the information [required to be reported under LMR].”
  4. Mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry.

In a statement, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson thanked Sen. Fischer for her dedication and commitment to Nebraska beef producers and specifically noted that many of the areas identified in the legislation match up with recommendations offered by the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Cattle Markets Task Force. “The legislation is a positive step forward in identifying actions to address concerns and challenges surrounding cattle markets. We look forward to working with Sen. Fischer to enact change in cattle markets that will lead to positive outcomes for our state’s beef producers,” said Nelson. Nebraska Farm Bureau’s official policy positions on cattle market issues will be established by delegates to the Nebraska Farm Bureau annual meeting in December and delegates to the American Farm Bureau annual meeting in January. 

Summary of Cattle Market Transparency Act

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