Blake Hurst is president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, and he sounds kind of exhausted when talking about a farm bill that remains stalled in the House Agriculture Ccommittee.
He says if lawmakers really want to slam the brakes before rolling off fiscal cliff, the farm bill is a pretty good place to start.
“Both the House Agriculture Committee version and the Senate version save somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion over the next 10 years,” Hurst says. “So, it seems to me that it would make a lot of sense to include the Farm Bill in that fiscal cliff negotiation because it saves money.”
The farm bill, a sprawling piece of legislation that includes five year funding levels for everything from nutrition assistance programs to federal crop insurance, is on the agenda for the Missouri Farm Bureau meeting this week at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Delegates will begin voting on policy Monday afternoon and ultimately set the lobbying agenda for the coming year.
Hurst says his members are especially concerned about an estate tax that would go up if congress fails to strike a deal before the end of the year. He says increasingly valuable land and expensive equipment would be hard for farmers to pass on to their children if the current estate tax rate and exemption isn’t kept in place.
“If nothing is done between now and the end of the year farmers will be faced with both an estate tax exemption and a rate that will make it almost impossible for one generation to pass the family farm on to the next,” Hurst says. “That’s a huge concern to us.”
If a compromise isn’t struck by the end of the year the estate tax will go up from 35 percent after a $5 million exemption to 55 percent after a $1 million exemption.
Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd