American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said Thursday that Farm Bureau is "on track" to oppose the Democrats' budget reconciliation bill that would provide as much as $130 billion in agriculture and food spending but is also likely to raise taxes.
At a luncheon for reporters, Duvall said that Farm Bureau will have to examine the final bill, but that the current version would spend a total of $3.5 trillion over 10 years and raise taxes by $2 trillion.
Although the agriculture section of the bill includes "attractive" programs, Duvall said Farm Bureau fears that the increased spending and taxes would create more burdens for farmers.
The spending on agricultural research, rural development, biofuels and other rural programs would amount to $66 billion, a small portion of the $3.5 trillion, Duvall noted. He did not mention the $28 billion for conservation or the $35 billion for child nutrition programs that is likely to increase government spending on food.
As DTN reported Thursday, farmers would get a $25 an acre payment from USDA to grow cover crop as part of the $28 billion set aside for climate-smart conservation practices.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has said that Republicans will be grateful for the reconciliation bill provisions when the 2023 farm bill comes up because they will increase the budget authority known as the baseline for the farm bill.
Asked about the Democrats' linkage of the reconciliation bill to the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Farm Bureau has endorsed, Duvall said that Farm Bureau does not have to have an opinion about both bills at "at one time."
Duvall made the statement about the overall budget reconciliation bill, even though signs are that Farm Bureau and other ag groups appear to have convinced Congress not to eliminate the stepped-up basis provision in estate tax law. Stepped-up basis allows farmers and other landowners use to value land at the time of death so that heirs pay capital gains taxes only on the difference between the value at the time of death and the sale price rather than the decedent's purchase price and the sale price.
Duvall said Farm Bureau had done "a really good job in talking about the disadvantages of stepped up basis."
But he also noted that there is still sentiment in the Senate to include elimination of stepped-up basis in the bill and that "a lot can happen in 48 hours."
One proposal would defer the tax obligation to the next generation, but Duvall said that "deferring" a tax obligation is dangerous as a liability hanging over a farm because lenders may view it negatively.
The bill would lower the estate tax exemption from $11.7 million for an individual to $5.8 million, but includes a special valuation provision for farmers who own their land. https://www.dtnpf.com/…
For most farmers, the bill would lower the corporate tax rate for companies with $400,000 or less in taxable income, dropping the tax rate from 21% to 18%.
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport
(c) Copyright 2021 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.