Thirteen agriculture interest groups pressed congressional leaders on Wednesday to pass legislation to extend the biodiesel tax credit that expired in 2017.
"America's farmers and rural communities are facing a mounting economic threat," the group said in a letter, http://kce.informz.net/….
"With your leadership, Congress can help mitigate the crisis by taking immediate action on a policy that enjoys bipartisan, bicameral support. We are writing today to ask you to renew and extend the biodiesel tax incentive at the earliest opportunity."
The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. and Ranking Members Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
"Senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle and across the country agree that the biodiesel tax incentive should be renewed," the letter continues. "We ask you to bring an extension of the biodiesel tax incentive up for immediate consideration in Congress."
The letter was sent by the Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, CoBank, Corn Refiners Association, Farm Credit Council, National Biodiesel Board, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Renderers Association, National Sorghum Producers and U.S. Canola Association.
"U.S. farmers produced record crops over the past several years but are still facing economic headwinds," the letter said. "Commodity prices are at decade lows and farm income is down 44% compared to five years ago, due in part to disruptions in export markets that account for over half of U.S. soybean sales and one-fifth of total U.S. farm sales. As a result, USDA projects a 5% decline in soybean planting for this year. Adding to the economic uncertainty, recent weather events have damaged grain stores and disrupted this season's planting schedule.
"Declines in farm income ripple through rural economies. Farm equipment purchases plunged sharply in the first quarter of 2019, raising a red flag for manufacturers. Rural commercial lenders are also at risk with farm debt at a record $426.7 billion. Rural America is not participating fully in the economic growth that is benefiting the rest of the country."
The letter said the biodiesel industry has been one bright spot for agriculture, but that the "glimmer of economic hope is threatened by the lapse of the biodiesel tax incentive."
The Energy Information Administration downgraded its projections for U.S. biodiesel production in 2019. "One reason is uncertainty over the tax incentive that expired in December 2017," the letter said. "The industry's 17-month wait for certainty is already having a negative impact, forcing producers to make difficult decisions that will impact future production and jobs."
In April, Reps. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, Mike Kelly, R-Pa., Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., introduced the bipartisan Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019. In February, Grassley and Wyden introduced legislation to provide a two-year extension of expired temporary tax incentives, including the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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