Agricultural Retailers Association: Environmental Policy, Taxation Top Issues To Watch

With the 2012 elections determined, it seems that we can expect more of the same from our nation’s capital unless our elected officials can find a way to get along. The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is anticipating movement on a multitude of regulatory and legislative issues that will affect retailers and distributors of crop inputs especially with regards to areas such as the Farm Bill, environmental issues, taxation and finance and gearing up for a new surface transportation bill in 2014.

Farm Bill

The 2012 Farm Bill legislation brought forth by the Senate and House Agriculture Committee represents an attempt towards balanced reform to the farm safety net program. Although there is room for negotiation within commodity and nutrition titles, compromise is not too far out of sight.

ARA has significant interest in the passage of the 2012 Farm Bill and has been working diligently to see membership policy goals achieved. If passed, we are likely to see the preservation of a strong crop insurance program, streamlining of the agency review process regarding biotechnology and many needed reforms within the conservation title such as reduction of the Conservation Reserve Program acreage cap and changes to the Technical Service Provider program that will allow all industry representatives to participate in conservation partnerships.

Environmental

Water quality issues remain of great importance to the agricultural industry. A top priority from 2012 will remain one in 2013 as the fight continues to stop the implementation of a Pesticide General Permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for aquatic pesticide applications. Over the past year, the agricultural industry has been fighting tooth-and-nail for legislation (H.R. 872 & S. 3605) that would eliminate the need for CWA National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits for pesticide applications that are FIFRA-compliant (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). Most within the agricultural community see this as a redundancy that only adds more cost and paperwork to a regulation that applicators are already in compliance with.

In 2013, it is also likely that EPA will continue to move forward with regulation of nutrients in bodies of water. Over the past year, we have seen Total Maximum Daily Load develop in the Chesapeake Bay and other watersheds in order to regulate the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment a body of water may contain. ARA remains skeptical of the data and methodology used in determining thresholds and criteria for water quality standards. The modeling techniques used by EPA generally overestimate the agricultural sector’s impact on water quality without considering other significant sources such as bank erosion.

Another issue of particular concern is EPA’s disregard of the 10th Amendment in forcing water quality standards on states instead of allowing them to set standards themselves, case in point, the Florida Numeric Nutrient Criteria. Whether it concerns the six states that surround the Chesapeake Bay or Florida, EPA constantly asserts authority over states citing the CWA. In doing so, EPA often issues a criterion based on information that is not scientifically defensible and often fails to recognize conservation practices that the agriculture industry is already utilizing in an effort to improve water quality. These factors lower production and demonstrate a lack of desire from EPA to get to the true source of water pollution through a spirit of cooperative federalism.

Finally, in an effort to complicate things further, EPA is still pursuing efforts to expand the definition of navigable waters under CWA to include all ephemeral streams. ARA continues to work with Congress, the agencies and other allied groups to thwart attempts of inaccurate and unnecessary rule-making.

Taxation & Finance

Each political party has its own compelling story of who is at fault for our debt or which plan to make America prosperous again would work. To some degree, both parties are right. Currently, the U.S. is spending too much and not raising enough revenue for the current levels of spending, hence the “fiscal cliff” the country was heading towards at the end of 2012. “Taxmaggeddon,” as many like to call it, is the major tax increase that is likely to fall on the shoulders of American families and businesses after January 1, if Congress did not get its fiscal house in order.

Of the $500 billion dollars that is due, $165 million of that total would be dedicated to the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts of which the majority of those benefits were arguably dedicated to helping middle and low-income tax bases. Additionally, the child tax credit will be cut in half, the fixes from the Alternative Minimum Tax will be erased, retiree’s dividends will soar up nearly 25 percentage points and the $124 billion dollar cut in the payroll tax will end. With the simultaneous lapse of these tax relief provisions, the average American household could see a general tax increase of $3,800.

Among the tax expenditures that expired with the others in 2012 is the Ag Chemical Security Tax Credit, which provides a 30% credit to agribusinesses that invest in facility security measures in order to keep potentially dangerous crop inputs out of the hands of criminals or terrorists. This credit, Section 450 of the Tax Code, was enacted with the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill and considering the budget constraints we face today and the fact there was no tax title proposed in the 2012 Farm Bill; pushing for extension has been an uphill fight. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) offered an amendment in favor of the credit when the Senate Finance Committee met to mark-up the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012, but it was ruled out of order. Both chambers have agreed that a “tax extenders” package can wait until the fiscal cliff reaches resolution and ARA will continue to work to extend this much needed tax credit.

The upcoming year will also bring an opportunity to revisit the seven-year depreciation schedule that is applied to farm equipment and make permanent the five-year schedule that similar construction equipment enjoys. This “fix” will make the tax code more consistent and get debt service and depreciation in line and in doing so, increase farm income by over $850 million a year. ARA supports this change because it will help farmers and ranchers replace older equipment by easing the ability to receive financing on new machinery.

In the wake of the financial collapse our country endured, Congress rushed to pass the Dodd-Frank Act, which was designed to act as a consumer protection barrier from poor and malicious investment. Unfortunately, as with most reactionary policy, this Congressional intent was misinterpreted. ARA is currently working to protect non-financial end users that legitimately hedge their business risks and pose no systemic risk to our financial system. These entities should not be required to comply with the regulations set forth by the CFTC, SEC and the Prudential Regulators for swap dealers and major-swap participants. We expect Congress to revisit Dodd-Frank, especially Title VII, early in 2013.

Transportation

ARA enjoyed many successes from the surface transportation bill that was passed this year. The hours of service agriculture exemption and the increase of the air mile service radius from 100 to 150 were big wins for ARA and its members. We congratulate the new Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Representative Bill Shuster, and look forward to working with him in the future.

For more information on ARA’s work on specific policy issues in 2013, visit www.aradc.org.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
LegislationGov. Kasich Signs Ohio Bill For Lake Erie Water Quality
April 2, 2015
Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality, reports editorial staff at Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Crop Protection Bulk Storage
LegislationARA: Chemical Security, Biotech Labeling Among Key Issues In 2015
February 12, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association is hopeful Beltway gridlock will lessen in 2015, allowing some key agricultural initiatives to gain legislative ground. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Comments On Monsanto Announcement
August 26, 2015
The Board of Syngenta confirms that it received a verbal proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company at a price Read More
Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer
EquipmentHigh-powered Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer Pushes Throug…
August 26, 2015
Engineered with more muscle, the new 660-gallon-capacity Patriot 2250 sprayer features best-in-class horsepower, along with the fuel efficiency that comes Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Eric SfiligojPrecision Ag Could Shine In Increased Spotlight On Agri…
August 24, 2015
By any measure, 2015 is turning into one of the most challenging years agriculture has ever experienced. All throughout good Read More
ManagementCrop Conditions In Minnesota and Traveling Time
August 21, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiilgoj discuss the crop outlook from a field trip to Minnesota and upcoming travel plans. Read More
HerbicidesREUTERS: Anti-GMO ‘Scientist’ Calls For New…
August 20, 2015
EDITORS NOTE: We feel that it is important to note that there are those that believe one of the lead Read More