LINCOLN, NEB. – Trade, the new farm bill, crop insurance, and tax code reform were key issues discussed by Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) leaders during their annual National Legislative Fly-In to the nation’s capital May 22-24.
“It’s important for us to travel to Washington, D.C. to express our views to Nebraska’s exceptional Congressional delegation and ensure the voices of Nebraska farm and ranch families are heard on Capitol Hill,” Steve Nelson, NEFB president said, May 31. “Even though we are in frequent contact with the Nebraska delegation, they need our support as they work on these issues in Washington, D.C.”
The Trump administration gave Congress official notice in mid-May that it plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but provided only the vaguest of hints about modest changes President Trump would seek to the agreement.
“I get asked all the time what agriculture’s top priority is when it comes to NAFTA’s renegotiation. Quite frankly, in most areas, we want it to simply be left alone. We have made significant gains and we don’t want to risk losing what has become a vitally important group of trading partners,” Nelson said.
Any changes to NAFTA would be the result of congressional consultation, and the Trump administration pledged close coordination and “transparency” with lawmakers throughout the renegotiation process.
The farm bill negotiations continue and are on the forefront of farmers' and ranchers' minds, while the Federal Crop Insurance Program continues to be a top priority for farmers.
President Trump’s administration proposed dramatic cuts to farm safeguards, including federal crop insurance, in the FY2018 budget request. Crop insurance today serves as the main agricultural safety net that exists for Nebraska farmers who have seen a 50 percent decline in farm revenue since 2013.
“Crop insurance helps to reduce producer and taxpayer risk and has come in under budget since the 2014 Farm Bill was passed. Farmers have collectively spent $50 billion out of their own pockets on crop insurance since 2000, which clearly demonstrates our willingness to help fund our own protection. Our congressional leaders recognize the importance of maintaining strong farm bill programs and we are continuing to engage in meaningful dialogue about how to support America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers in difficult times,” Nelson said.
The House of Representatives is moving forward with comprehensive tax reform designed to spur growth of our nation’s economy. Many of the provisions being discussed will be beneficial to farmers, including reduced income tax rates, reduced capital gains taxes, immediate expensing for all business inputs except land, and the elimination of the estate tax.
“Nebraska farm and ranch families need comprehensive tax reform that lowers effective tax rates. Eliminating things like the “Death Tax”, lowering capital gains taxes, and maintaining cash accounting, will not only affect the economic behavior and well-being of farm households, but will also aid in the management and profitability of farm and ranch businesses,” he said.
Nebraska Farm Bureau leaders also talked about supporting a complete overhaul of our federal regulatory system, repeal and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and adjusting laws regarding the availability of E-15 with Nebraska’s congressional delegation.
Those attending the National Legislative visit were:
Steve Nelson, president Nebraska Farm Bureau-Kearney/Franklin County
Mark McHargue, First vice president-Merrick County
Bill Baldwin District eight NEFB representative-Scotts Bluff County
Don Benner, District two NEFB representative-Merrick County
Myles Ramsey, District five NEFB representative-Adams County
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 61,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.