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President Trump says Christmas present is delivered and tax cuts will fuel US economy

DTN | Posted on December 28, 2017

Farmers who receive income from pass-through entities will see a 20% deduction. The effective impact of a 37% tax rate and a 20% deduction for pass-through income would set a top tax rate on business income at 29.6%. The tax accounting firm K-Coe Isom suggested some business considerations for farmers as year-end tax strategies for the bill. One would be to defer income to next year and pay deductible expenses now, because depending on circumstances, farmers could have a lower tax rate for 2018. After 2017, carryback of net operating losses will be limited to just two years instead of five years. So this may be the last chance to recoup income taxes from 2012-2015, K-Coe Isom said.Farmers may need to restructure their operations in order to get maximum benefit from the new law, but K-Coe Isom noted that "rate reductions and estate tax changes beneficial to ag are temporary."


EPA lowballs manure rule’s reach, farm groups say

Capital Press | Posted on December 28, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency has underestimated how many producers will have to report that their animals are releasing gas, according to farm groups. The new reporting requirement, forced by an environmental lawsuit and expected to take effect Jan. 22, will apply to hundreds of thousands of farms, not the 44,900 projected by the EPA, the groups say.“This number is woefully inadequate and vastly under-represents the universe of producers who will be impacted by these reporting requirements,” the American Farm Bureau Federation stated in comments to the EPA.

Texas Senator Seeks RIN Cap

DTN | Posted on December 28, 2017

 Leaders in the biofuels industry wrote President Donald Trump on Friday after learning Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had floated a proposal to the White House that would essentially cap prices for renewable identification number (RIN) credits at 10 cents apiece. The proposal from the Texas senator, negotiating on behalf of oil refiners, spurred major players in both biofuels and commodity crops industries to send a letter Friday to President Donald Trump detailing why the RIN market exists, how it is operated by EPA, and some of the problems EPA has in providing transparency on RIN trading.Most importantly, the letter praised President Trump for his support of the biofuels industry and reiterated the need to ensure any policy changes don't undercut billions of dollars in biofuels infrastructure that has been put in place since the Renewable Fuel Standard was created.

Cargill turns to workforce to push back against Trump trade policies

The Cedar Rapids Gazette | Posted on December 28, 2017

On Cargill’s new FedByTrade website, the Houfek family tells how selling meat to foreign countries has supported two generations working at the company’s packing plant in Schuyler, Neb. Four hundred miles north, in Hopkins, Brian Donovan, an operations manager in Cargill’s salt division, stands ready to explain how providing de-icing and water conditioning products to Canadians keeps dozens of U.S. workers on the payroll.As President Donald Trump’s disparagement of free trade agreements pushes America away from deals like the 11-nation Trans Pacific Partnership and the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, Cargill, one of the world’s largest private companies, is pushing back.The Minnesota-based shipping and agriculture giant has enlisted its 155,000-person workforce in a political trade war. It just launched FedByTrade, where its employees, customers and communities can tell stories of regular Americans who depend on international trade for their livelihoods.

Vaden denies politics played role in USDA reassignments

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 28, 2017

Democrats on the Senate Agriculture Committee have written to Stephen Vaden, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be USDA’s top lawyer, seeking more information about the reassignments of at least a dozen department employees, all members of the Senior Executive Service. Among the questions posed by the senators: “Were any of the reassignments …. made because of the political affiliation of the individual reassigned or because the individual had worked closely with Obama administration leadership officials at USDA? If yes, please explain.”  Vaden's response to that question, provided that same afternoon, was a simple "No." Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, and two other Democrats joined the panel’s Republican majority on Dec. 11 when the committee approved Vaden’s nomination. But Stabenow said at the time that she still needed answers about whether the personnel moves involved retaliation. The full Senate has yet to vote on the nomination.

FAA: Farm equipment radio interference threatens air traffic

Minneapolis Star Tribune | Posted on December 28, 2017

Radio interference from a farm's massive metal crop-watering structure is causing havoc for air traffic in the sky over Georgia, federal authorities said in a lawsuit filed this week. The irrigation structure is on a south Georgia farm where the Federal Aviation Administration has a radio transmitter to relay signals that keep aircraft on course, according to the federal lawsuit.Interference caused by the 1,200-foot-long (370-meter-long) structure forced the FAA to shut down its transmitter in February, affecting operations of nine airports. The proximity of Robins Air Force Base makes the situation even more serious, the government said in its complaint.

Bill Includes Language on Cottonseed, Dairy, Ag Disaster Funds

DTN | Posted on December 27, 2017

It's been a long battle, but cotton farmers will finally get the opportunity to sign up cottonseed in an emergency disaster bill Congress is expected to pass before leaving town for the holidays. House Republican leaders on Tuesday released a hurricane and wildfire disaster package that would also attempt to deal with problems in the cotton and dairy programs and cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but the bill's future was uncertain.Republicans had indicated they would add the disaster package and several other measures to the continuing resolution, but Politico reported that the Republicans had abandoned plans to fund the Pentagon for the rest of the fiscal year and decided that the disaster bill would have to have a separate vote.The prospects for other add-ons -- such as funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, veterans' health care, Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies, a renewal of the cyber surveillance tools and a tax bill waiver from statutory Pay-As-You-Go rules -- are also uncertain.

EPA nixes bid to herd livestock under Clean Air Act

Capital Press | Posted on December 27, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it has denied a petition by environmental groups to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations like factories under the Clean Air Act. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in a letter to petitioners, acknowledged livestock are potential sources of air pollutants. The agency, however, doesn’t have a reliable method for estimating animal emissions. Until it does, new rules could be unjustified and ineffective, according to Pruitt.

Rural Puerto Rican communities continue to be underserved by U.S. agencies

Ag Policy | Posted on December 26, 2017

As we write this column in the week before Christmas 2017, it has been nearly three months since category 5 Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. Unlike the Texas coast which was drenched with rainfall from Hurricane Harvey that just weeks earlier was measured in feet, some 40 percent of the island still is without electrical power and damage to major roads and bridges makes many communities on the island difficult to reach with most of those in rural areas. According to Refugee International, “the U.S. response remains too slow and bureaucratic.” They point out that “the initial deployment of the US military was insufficient – for example, it paled in comparison to the magnitude of the US military response surrounding the Haiti earthquake in 2010” and Puerto Rico is a part of the US with the residents holding US citizenship.

EPA: Glyphosate Unlikely Carcinogenic

DTN | Posted on December 26, 2017

The herbicide glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. That is the conclusion reached by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its draft risk assessment released this week. The assessment is set for a 60-day public comment period early in 2018. The EPA said in a news release this week that a proposed interim registration review decision for glyphosate is set for publication in 2019. That decision would propose a variety of mitigation steps to reduce glyphosate risks, if measures are needed. EPA said it also conducted an "in-depth review" of the glyphosate cancer database.