December 29, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 52
ESTATE TAX RELIEF INCLUDED IN BILL SIGNED INTO LAW BY OBAMA
President Barack Obama on Dec. 17 signed into law H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, which extends numerous tax provisions enacted during the Bush administration and establishes a new estate tax structure. The new law sets for two years an estate tax rate exemption of $5 million per person with a maximum rate of 35 percent that was supported by Farm Bureau. The estate tax was repealed for 2010 and without the legislation, an estate tax structure that allows an exemption of $1 million per person with a top tax rate of 55 percent would have gone into effect Jan. 1. At those levels, many family farms would be at risk. In addition to estate tax relief, the new law continues a number of other tax provisions supported by Farm Bureau. It extends lower capital gains tax rates for all taxpayers and lower income tax rates for all taxpayers until 2012. “Securing meaningful estate tax reform for farm and ranch families has been a top priority for Farm Bureau. We are pleased the House left intact the estate tax provision that provides a $5 million exemption and maximum rate of 35 percent,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. The law also extends tax incentives for the production of biodiesel through 2012. It extends tax incentives for the production of ethanol and the tariff on imported ethanol through 2011. It also extends the alternative fuels tax credit for liquid fuels derived from biomass and other sources through 2011. The passage of the law followed a year-long Farm Bureau campaign on the estate tax issue, and lawmakers hoped it would boost the U.S. economy. “This is real money that’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives,” Obama said of the overall tax structure, “and I would not have signed this bill if it didn’t include other extensions of relief that were also set to expire - relief that’s going to help families cover the bills, parents raise their children, students pay for college, and business owners to take the reins of the recovery and propel this economy forward.” 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 expiring unemployment benefits.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 4
TERM LIMITS FOR USDA GUARANTEED LOAN PROGRAMS BEGIN JAN. 1 The suspension of term limits on the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Guaranteed Farm Operating Loan Program ends on Dec. 31 and term limits under a 1992 law limiting the number of years a borrower can participate will be enforced by the USDA. Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, 4,200 borrowers, including 1,600 with current guaranteed farm operating loans through the Farm Service Agency, will become ineligible for further loan assistance from the USDA. The 1992 law was suspended under the 2008 farm bill, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that there have been efforts in Congress to extend the term-limit waiver. “I understand the critical need to maintain a strong agricultural credit safety net for our hard-working farmers and ranchers. With thousands of family farmers across rural America facing the tightest agricultural credit markets in 20 years, USDA loan programs can mean the difference between surviving a tough year and losing the family business,” Vilsack said. Borrowers who are nearing the term limit were to be notified by the USDA via mail. For questions about how the term limits are calculated, contact your local FSA loan office. CONGRESS PASSES FOOD SAFETY BILL AGAIN For the second time in less than a month, the U.S. Senate passed S. 510, a food safety bill on Dec. 19 in a move that will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority to order recalls. The bill passed on Nov. 30 but was blocked in the House over revenue-generating provisions it contained. Such provisions must originate in the House. The Senate corrected the bill and passed it by unanimous consent. The House passed the revised version on Dec. 21. S. 510, also called the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, is similar to a bill passed by the House earlier this year. It gives the FDA authority to mandate recalls of tainted foods. The bill requires larger processors and manufacturers to register with the FDA and create detailed food safety plans, though it contains an exemption for small facilities and small farms, including those that sell food through farmers’ markets, bake sales, roadside stands, public events, community supported agriculture and organizational fundraisers. The bill also establishes stricter standards for food safety of imported food and increases inspections of foreign and domestic food facilities. The FDA will be required to create new produce safety regulations for producers of the highest-risk fruits and vegetables. Manufacturers and some farmers will be required to take steps to prevent food contamination and to continually test to make sure it is working. The measure is expected to cost $1.4 billion over the next four years, including the expense of hiring 2,000 new FDA inspectors. Farm Bureau food safety specialist Kelli Ludlum said the legislation won’t affect most farmers. “If you’re a grains producer or a livestock producer, producing meat, for example, it largely doesn’t affect you at all. If you are a specialty crops producer, growing fruits and vegetables, the legislation essentially restates FDA’s current authority to regulate the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Ludlum said.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 4 HARVEST FOR ALL RAISES $20,000 FOR FOOD BANKS County Farm Bureaus from around the state raised more than $20,000 in the 6th annual Harvest for All campaign. GFB President Zippy Duvall last week presented a symbolic check for $20,032.50 to Middle Georgia Community Food Bank (MGCFB) Executive Director Ron Raleigh, representing GFB’s contribution to a network of food banks. The campaign raised cash through donations in 2010 rather than staple goods as in years past. The money was used to purchase peanut butter grown and processed in Georgia for distribution to eight regional food banks across the state, including MGCFB. The food banks are providing the peanut butter to more than 800 nonprofit agencies throughout the state. Part of the goal of Harvest For All is to improve food security for Georgia residents. Food security is the availability of food to household occupants. A study by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service showed that nearly 15 percent of U.S. households either have low or very low food security. Five southern states, including Georgia, had food insecurity that exceeded the national average for the years 2007 - 2009. FARM BUREAU PART OF NEW AGRICULTURAL ALLIANCE In the culmination of a series of meetings between May and October, the American Farm Bureau Federation helped form the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance to present unified messages about the benefits of the U.S. food production system and improve consumer trust in agricultural products. AFBF President Bob Stallman was elected to chair the group’s executive committee. In October, farmer and rancher organizations met and voted to form the new organization, which was initially made up of 23 groups. “This is a historic joining together of farm organizations,” said Stallman. “We are committed to developing a well-funded, long-term, coordinated campaign to increase consumer trust in agricultural producers and the food system.” Stallman said the group was formed because of the “deeply-felt need among all the organizations to coordinate and amplify messages about the benefits of our food system in the face of numerous attacks.” Joining Stallman on the alliance board are Philip Bradshaw, chairman of the United Soybean Board; Austin Brown of the Beef Checkoff; Scott George of the Federation of State Beef Councils; Forrest Roberts, chief executive officer of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Bart Scott, president of the National Corn Growers Association; Dale Norton, of the National Pork Board; Dallas Hockman, of the National Pork Producers Council; Gene Gregory, president of United Egg Producers; and John Starkey, president of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. The other organizations that joined the alliance include the American Egg Board; American National CattleWomen; American Sheep Industry Association; American Soybean Association; American Sugar Alliance; National Association of Wheat Growers; National Cotton Council; National Milk Producers Association; Southern Peanut Farmers Federation; United Fresh Produce Association; USA Rice Federation; U.S. Grains Council; U.S. Soybean Federation; and Western Growers Association.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 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 1-877-267-3332 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. The North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association will also hold its annual meeting in conjunction with this conference. 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. “OUTSIDE THE BOX” FARMING WORKSHOP Jan. 13, 2011 Macon State Farmer’s Market 8:30 a.m. Macon The goal of this workshop is to educate farmers, ranchers, and landowners about alternative farming techniques and the support offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Topics include permaculture, aquaculture, diverse small fruit orchards, high tunnels and biotecture. Debby Waugh of Salamander Springs Farm will discuss permaculture, Dr. Patricia Duncan of Fort Valley State University will discuss aquaponics and Tom Beckman of the USDA will discuss developing small fruit orchards in a sustainable environment. Their panel discussion will take place in the morning and farm tours will be conducted in the afternoon. The workshop is free but registration is required. Space is limited, call or e-mail Naomi Davis, 478-836-4564, email@example.com. FREEDOM GIANT MISCANTHUS FIELD DAY Jan. 13, 2011 REPREVE Renewables farming facility 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Soperton This field day is intended to educate landowners about the planting and harvesting of giant miscanthus as a biomass energy crop. The event will include field tours, a rhizome harvesting demonstration, a miscanthus cutting and baling demonstration and equipment display. Researchers from the University of Georgia, Mississippi State and Appalachian State University will discuss growing the crop and its potential as a fuel source. The field day is open to the public, but advance registration is required. Visit http://www.freedomgiantmiscanthus.com/fieldday/ to register. CORN SHORT COURSE AND GEORGIA CORN GROWERS MEETING Jan. 19, 2011 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center 8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tifton This annual event will feature sessions on disease and pest prevention, nutrient needs, irrigation studies, a market outlook for corn and more. The $5 advance registration fee includes instruction and refreshment breaks. Registration is $10 at the door. For more information, contact your local Extension office or call 229-386-3416. GEORGIA PEANUT FARM SHOW Jan. 20, 2011 Albany Civic Center 8:30 a.m. A lbany More than 65 exhibitors will display the latest in peanut equipment and technology. Event includes production and seed seminars and numerous door prizes. The Georgia Peanut Commission is accepting nominations for the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award. 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 http://www.gapeanuts.com or by contacting Joy Carter at 229-386-3690 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply is Jan. 3, 2011. Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association Short Course Jan. 22 Atlanta Botanical Garden Atlanta Registration is underway online for this short course. The registration fee is $95 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch, parking and presentations from educators and urban beekeepers. For the agenda or to register, visit http://www.beekeepingshortcourse.com.