FARM BILL GOES TO CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Although Congress is a long way from completing a farm bill, one hurdle was cleared when the Senate requested a formal conference with the House earlier this week. Yet-to-be-appointed conferees will be tasked with reconciling the House farm bill, which was approved without a nutrition title, with the Senate version that funds federal nutrition programs including food stamps.
Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker said the House action to pass a farm program-only bill earlier this month sustained momentum towards final passage of a bill.
"But, there is still a lot of work to be done to reconcile the House bill, which does not include a nutrition title with the Senate bill," Walker said. "We will continue to work with our delegation to find a path forward, and appreciate the tremendous support they have shown Alabama farmers throughout the process so far."
According to a Politico article, Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) expressed confidence that the Senate and House could come up with a bipartisan compromise, although the bills have vast differences.
U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Martha Roby, both Alabama Republicans, serve on the House Agriculture Committee.
Congress Gearing up for Tax Legislation
The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee continue to work towards a comprehensive tax reform bill. More than 50 congressional hearings on tax reform have been held in Washington, and input from citizens is being accepted online at taxreform.gov.
Farmers and ranchers have been urging Congress to implement a tax code recognizing the financial challenges they face, but more needs to be done, noted, Pat Wolff, American Farm Bureau Federation tax policy specialist.
“Speaking up now, calling your member of Congress, talking to them while they’re home over the August recess about the tax code, about capital gains taxes and estate taxes is very important,” Wolff said.
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New Tax Exemption Proposed for Ag Research Organizations
Proposed federal legislation to create a new type of charitable, tax-exempt organization could benefit Alabama's three land-grant universities: Auburn University, Tuskegee University and Alabama A&M University.
The legislation, endorsed by American Farm Bureau, would allow private money to fund agricultural research.
Agricultural research organizations would work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct agricultural research, complementing existing public and private efforts. The legislation, called the Charitable Agricultural Research Act, was introduced in the House as H.R. 2671 and in the Senate as S. 1280.