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S P E C I A L R E P O R T ‘Biotechnology’ Common sense speaks louder than pseudoscience | 5 November 5, 2012 Vol. 91 ‘IFYE’ Participants share experiences | 3 Twenty-five Farm Bureau programs are winners | 8 Many U.S. farm goods now dutyfree in Panama With the implementation last month of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, nearly 56 percent of all U.S. imports to that country now receive duty-free treatment. Among the immediately duty-free farm and ranch products are high-quality beef, frozen turkeys, sorghum, soybeans, soybean meal, crude soybean and corn oil, almost all fruit and fruit products, wheat, peanuts, whey, cotton and many processed products. No. 20 Come January, farmers could face the ‘fiscal cliff’ Unless Congress acts before the end of the year, come Jan. 1, the U.S. economy will fall off a “fiscal cliff.” That’s when a number of tax breaks and government program spending will be cut in order to try to get the nation’s budget back on track. Because the Joint Select Committee for Deficit Reduction failed to come up with a plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, as tasked by the Obama administration, what’s known as “sequestration” will be triggered. This will require proportional, acrossthe-board cuts of $1.2 trillion to more than 1,000 federal programs over the next decade, including those related to agriculture. So, what exactly does this mean for farmers and ranchers? If Congress does nothing and sequestration goes into effect, all commodity and many conservation programs will be cut 7.6 percent in 2013. As for crop insurance, nearly all subsidies will be exempt from automatic cuts under the first year of sequestration, but will likely come about in year two. Discretionary programs—government spending set by Congress through an annual appropriations act—will receive an 8.2 percent cut in 2013. For agriculture, these programs include: agricultural research; education and Extension activities; some conservation programs; food safety; marketing and inspection activities; rural economic and community development; telecommunications and electrification assistance; and various export and international activities. “The impact of the cuts will really be felt in rural America,” said Cliff Continued on Page 3 Farmers anxious for action during lame duck on new farm bill, taxes Continued on Page 3 © n e w s p a p e r GROWERS ARE EAGER TO SEE PROGRESS on a comprehensive five-year farm bill when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13 for their lame-duck session. Stopping an increase in capital gains and estate tax rates is critical, too. During its upcoming lame-duck session, Congress has some big policy moves to make. At the top of lawmakers’ to-do list, farmers and ranchers say, should be the farm bill and estate and capital gains taxes. Many of the provisions of the 2008 farm bill expired on Sept. 30. Most farmers are okay for now because the 2008 bill covers the 2012 crops, not just fiscal 2012. However, dairy farmers are struggling without a Milk Income Loss Contract program, which expired at the end of September. And even growers who are currently feeling few effects of not having a farm policy in place are at a loss in terms of planning for the future. Just before Congress adjourned in October, hundreds of Americans, including farmers, congressional members and leaders from agriculture, conservation, energy, consumer and nutrition organizations, gathered on Capitol Hill at the Farm Bill Now rally. They called on lawmakers to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill. Such a bill, Farm Bureau says, is necessary to ensure stability for growers and allow them to plan for the future. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June and the House Agriculture Committee approved its own legislation the following month. Farmers and ranchers had hoped to see Congress compromise on the two measures before heading home in the run-up to the election. “Now it’s a lame duck must-do,” said Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation policy specialist. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said she thinks there’s a good chance Congress will get the farm bill done, after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in late October that the House would vote on a measure after the election. Farmers and ranchers are also anxious for Congress to act on estate and capital gains taxes. On Jan. 1, the estate tax exemption is slated to drop from the current $5 million to $1 million per person and the top tax rate will climb from the 35 percent in place now to 55 Farm bill Continued on Page 6


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