December 15, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 50
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS REACH TAX AGREEMENT WITH WHITE HOUSE The Obama administration last week reached an agreement with congressional leaders to extend expiring income tax cuts and settle a number of other tax issues, including an establishment of estate tax rates for which Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations have voiced support. The House last week passed H.R. 4853 by a 234-188 vote. The Senate was expected to vote on companion legislation this week, though some House Democrats were pushing for changes. The bill extended tax rates enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush and set the estate tax exemption at $5 million per person ($10 million per couple) with a top tax rate of 35 percent and indexed for inflation, matching a proposal earlier this year by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). Farm Bureau maintains that the estate tax issue is crucial for the nation’s farmers. “Individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98 percent of our nation’s 2 million farms and ranches and generate 86 percent of the food and fiber produced in our country,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to the group of congressmen who negotiated the tax deal with the White House. “When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets, surviving family partners can be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment needed to keep their businesses operating. This not only can cripple a farm or ranch operation but also hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports.” The estate tax was repealed for 2010, but without legislation by the end of the year, the estate tax exemption would revert to 2001 levels, with a $1 million exemption and a top rate of 55 percent. Without passage of tax legislation, the expiring tax rates would also result in income-tax increases in every bracket for 2011. H.R. 4853 carried a number of other provisions supported by Farm Bureau, including an extension of capital gains tax rates for all taxpayers through 2012, extending through 2011 tax incentives for production of biodiesel fuel, a one-year extension of tax incentives for the production of ethanol, a tariff on imported ethanol, and a one-year extension of the alternative fuels tax credit for liquid fuels derived from biomass and other sources. Under the bill, the Alternative Minimum Tax relief is extended through the 2011 tax year, and the higher Section 179 small business expensing provisions are extended through 2012. Also extended are expanded child and dependent care tax credits, marriage penalty relief and others.
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GFB SUBMITS COMMENTS ON CROP ASSISTANCE PROGRAM While acknowledging the Crop Assistance Program (CAP) administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided much-needed help to some Georgia producers who suffered losses from excessive rains in 2009, Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall expressed disappointment that producers of peanuts and some cotton farmers were left out. In a Nov. 22 letter to Steve Peterson, chief of the Farm Service Agency’s Disaster Assistance Branch, Duvall noted that severe rainfall and flooding in the fall of 2009 prevented the timely harvest of peanuts, resulting in declines in crop quality and lower prices paid to farmers. “Most row-crop farmers in the middle to southern parts of the state grow the crop and are heavily reliant on its production for sustainability,” Duvall wrote. “These farmers look to USDA for assistance in times of disaster and for USDA to specifically exclude them is troublesome.” He asked that the exclusion of peanut producers be reconsidered. The deadline to apply for the CAP program was Dec. 9. Duvall also questioned the logic of CAP eligibility rules making cotton farmers ineligible for payment if they planted winter cover crops that were not harvested for grain. He pointed out that approximately 15 percent of Georgia’s cotton land was planted in cover crops and almost all of that land was used for grazing rather than being harvested for grain, a positive cultural practice that preserves soil, improves water quality and is part of a recommended regimen to combat glyphosate-resistant pigweed. BARNES OUTLINES COMPONENTS OF WATER QUANTITY STRUCTURE Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Allen Barnes told the GFB Water Commodity Advisory Committee his ideas on a comprehensive approach to maintaining a stable water supply for the state during the 72nd GFB Annual Convention Dec. 6. His plan starts with getting authorization to use water from Lake Lanier to supply metro Atlanta with water, the subject of a decades-old dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled in 2009 that the three states had to reach an agreement on a water-sharing plan by 2012. Beyond that, Barnes said the state has several options to consider with the goal of achieving ongoing maintenance of water availability. Included in these are conservation and alternative means of water storage, including additional dams and aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), and interbasin transfers. “The truth is, we’re all in this together,” Barnes said. “We all have an individual responsibility, and it boils down to stewardship. That little decision you make every day, ask yourself if you can do better with conserving water.” The ASR system, where water is pumped in to underground aquifers, is similar to water management practices being employed in Florida. Barnes was one of several stakeholders who presented ideas last week on enhancing the state’s water supply in a meeting of the Georgia General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Water Supply. During the meeting, Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark said that other states are using Georgia’s water crisis as a way to draw business away from Georgia. The committee also heard about financing options for building new reservoirs and potential use of 166 existing watershed dams around the state.
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CONSERVATION PROGRAM SIGNUPS UNDERWAY The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking applications for the 2011 Conservation Stewardship Program, a voluntary program designed to encourage agricultural and forestry producers to adopt additional conservation practices and improve, maintain and manage existing ones. Authorized under the 2008 farm bill, the CSP replaces the Conservation Security program. The maximum annual enrollment is capped at 12.8 million acres nationwide. Applications will be ranked based on water quality, water quantity, soil quality and soil erosion. Annual and supplemental payments are available. The deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2011. For information or to begin the application process, fill out the self-screening checklist found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp.html or at NRCS field offices. The NRCS also announced that $5 million in financial assistance in the longleaf pine initiative is available in 116 counties in Georgia help private landowners manage and restore longleaf pine. The longleaf pine initiative will provide technical and financial assistance to help landowners improve habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest and tribal land. Approved participants will receive assistance for implementing conservation practices including planting longleaf pine, installing firebreaks, conducting prescribed burning and controlling invasive plants. For more information, visit https://www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov or visit your local NRCS office. GFB HONORS NASHES WITH DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD GFB President Zippy Duvall presented Upson County Farm Bureau (UCFB) members Bob and Betty Nash with the Georgia Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award during the organization's 72nd annual convention on Dec. 5. This award is the highest honor Georgia Farm Bureau gives to recognize volunteer Farm Bureau leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Farm Bureau and agriculture over a long period of time. “Bob Nash was serving as Georgia Farm Bureau president when my wife Bonnie and I first became involved with Farm Bureau as young farmers. Bob and Mrs. Betty are the gold standard every farm couple should strive to be,” Duvall said. Both of the Nashes grew up on farms in Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma A&M. Mr. Nash earned a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry and a master’s degree in animal nutrition. Mrs. Nash received a bachelor’s degree in home economics. Mr. Nash served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in World War II. The Nashes have been Farm Bureau members since moving to Georgia in 1957. They have been active members for 52 years. Mr. Nash has served as a county director for the Coweta, Lamar and Upson County Farm Bureaus and is a past president of the Lamar and Upson Farm Bureaus. Mr. Nash served as a Georgia Farm Bureau district director from 1974 to 1978 and as Georgia Farm Bureau president from 1978 until 1988. He served as treasurer of the Upson County Farm Bureau from 1989 to 1993 and still serves on the board. As GFB president, Nash was concerned with improving member services and increasing membership. He was instrumental in the development and building of Georgia Farm Bureau’s current state office in Macon.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AWARD DEADLINE IS DEC. 17 Apply for the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness’ 2011 Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Award, which is designed to recognize agricultural producers who are exceptional caretakers of the environment. For more information, contact Sara Cook at email@example.com or 229-391-6882. DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR MONSANTO DONATION PROGRAM IS DEC. 31 Farmers in 25 Georgia counties have until Dec. 31 to register a community charity as a candidate for a $2,500 donation from the Monsanto Fund through the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. Winning farmers and their recipient organizations will be announced in February 2011. To apply, call 1877-267-3332 or visit www.growcommunities.com. SOUTHEAST REGIONAL FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CONFERENCE Jan. 6-9, 2011 International Trade and Convention Center Savannah Conference workshops will cover a variety of topics including organic production, food safety and roadside markets. More than 85 hours of commodity-specific training will be offered. For information or to register visit http://www.gfvga.org or call 706-845-8200. GEORGIA/FLORIDA SMALL GRAIN/SOYBEAN EXPO Jan. 13, 2011 Georgia National Fairgrounds/Agricenter Perry Program topics will include the 2011 world outlook for southern commodities, soybean pest and disease issues and small grain production. For more information contact Terry Hollifield at 706-542-2351. NRCS ALTERNATIVE FARMING WORKSHOP Jan. 13, 2011 Macon State Farmer's Market 8:30 a.m. Macon This free workshop will cover topics related to alternative farming for underserved farmers in Baker, Bibb, Bleckley, Brooks, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Cook, Colquitt, Crisp, Crawford, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Harris, Houston, Lee, Marion, Macon, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Seminole, Steward, Sumter, Tift, Talbot, Taylor, Terrell, Thomas, Turner, Twiggs, Webster and Worth Counties. For more information, contact Naomi Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 478-836-4564. GEORGIA PEANUT FARM SHOW Jan. 20, 2011 Albany Civic Center 8:30 a.m. Albany More than 65 exhibitors will display the latest in peanut equipment and technology. Event includes production and seed seminars and numerous door prizes. For more information call Rebecca Whitehead at 229-386-3502 or E-mail at: Rebecca@gapeanuts.com. The Georgia Peanut Commission is accepting nominations for the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award, to be announced at the show. Any active Georgia peanut farmer who is 45 years of age or younger, as of the end of 2011, is eligible to apply. The award is based on an applicant’s overall farm operation, environmental and stewardship practices, leadership, civic, church and community service activities. The award application is available at the GPC Web site www.gapeanuts.com or by contacting Joy Carter at 229-386-3690 or email@example.com. The deadline to apply is Jan. 3, 2011. GEORGIA COTTON COMMISSION ANNUAL MEETING Jan. 26, 2011 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center 8 a.m. Tifton The Commission’s annual meeting program is scheduled from 10 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. and includes lunch. Scheduled speakers are: Allen McLaurin, Southern Cotton Growers president, Allen Terhaar, Cotton Council International executive director, John Maguire, National Cotton Council senior vp, Zippy Duvall, Georgia Farm Bureau president and Gary Black, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner-elect. Workshops covering up-to-date technical production strategies and current industry information will begin at 8 a.m. and will be repeated after lunch. For more information or to register, visit http://www.georgiacottoncommission.org.