November 17, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 46
CONGRESS PONDERS NUMEROUS TAX PROVISIONS IN LAME-DUCK SESSION Estate taxes will be among the more than 140 expired or expiring tax provisions under consideration during the lame-duck session of Congress that began Monday. For the year 2010, no estate tax has been in effect but without congressional action it will be reinstated with a $1 million per person exemption and a top tax rate of 55 percent with stepped-up basis. The House passed a bill to provide a $3.5 million per person exemption and a top rate of 45 percent in December 2009. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) submitted a proposal, which was favored by Farm Bureau, that would phase in a $5 million exemption with a 35 percent top rate, but the Senate has yet to consider it. The Joint Committee on Taxation lists 72 tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and 69 that will expire at the end of 2010. The House and the Senate both passed bills extending the expired provisions from 2009, but have been unable to agree on final legislation. Farm Bureau supported the extension of several of these provisions, including production credits for biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels, five-year depreciation for farming business machinery and equipment, deduction of state and local sales taxes, additional standard deduction for state and local property taxes, above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expense, a provision encouraging contributions of conservation easements, enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food and a short line railroad track maintenance credit. Farm Bureau also supports special tax treatment of certain payments to controlling exempt organizations, including Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) rules for interest, rents, royalties and annuities received by a tax-exempt entity from a controlled entity. Expiring 2010 tax provisions for which Farm Bureau supports extension include a top capital gains tax of 15 percent, reduced personal income tax rates, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), marriage penalty tax relief that would keep the deduction for married couples at twice the amount for single taxpayers, a hold harmless provision for the Alternative Minimum Tax, keeping the amount eligible for section 179 deductions at $250,000 and keeping the exemption for National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program, which keeps medical scholarships for those willing to practice in underserved areas exempt from taxation. Without congressional action, the personal income tax bracket currently at 10 percent will increase to 15 percent, the 25 percent bracket will increase to 28 percent, the 28 percent bracket will move to 31 percent, the 33 percent bracket will increase to 36 percent and the 35 percent bracket will increase to 39.6 percent.
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FARM-CITY WEEK A CHANCE TO INCREASE AGRICULTURE AWARENESS As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family and friends around a table brimming with cherished family recipes, Georgia Farm Bureau encourages you to take a moment to reflect on the blessings agriculture provides and join the organization in celebrating National Farm-City Week, Nov. 19-25. Farm-City Week celebrates the cooperative relationship between farmers and their urban colleagues who help process, market and distribute the food farmers grow to the American consumer. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the annual celebration. The theme for the event is “Agriculture: A Growing Story.” Kiwanis International began National Farm-City Week in 1955 to increase the understanding of the partnership between urban and rural residents. Farm days at schools, farm tours, banquets and mayoral proclamations are just a few of the observances that will be held in communities across the country to mark this annual event. County Farm Bureaus across the state have held a variety of Farm-City Week events in November to increase consumer awareness of agriculture. “Agriculture is important for the obvious reasons of providing food, clothing and shelter, but agriculture affects everyone’s life in so many other ways by creating jobs, providing habitat for wildlife and protecting green space,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “Without farmers, Georgia can’t grow - its food or economically.” According to the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED), food and fiber production and related businesses represent the largest or second largest segment of all goods and services produced in two-thirds of Georgia’s counties. Food and fiber production and directly related processing directly and indirectly generated a total economic impact of $65 billion for Georgia and created more than 351,000 jobs in 2008, according to the UGA CAED. Last year, Georgia farmers led the nation in producing broilers, peanuts, pecans and watermelon, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics show. Georgia farmers placed second in the production of fresh market cucumbers, spring onions and rye. In 2009, the top ten commodities grown in Georgia were broilers, cotton, eggs, timber, peanuts, horses, beef, greenhouse horticulture products, dairy and container nursery plants. Georgia farm and timber owners also provide environmental benefits to the state by preserving natural habitats for native plants and animals. According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, there are 49,000 farms in the state with an average size of 218 acres. There are 10.7 million acres of farmland in Georgia. USDA statistics show that farmers receive only 19 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest of the food cost covers wages and materials for food processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents of every dollar spent on food. Visit GFB’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaFarmBureau to view a photo album of Farm-City Week events held by county Farm Bureaus across the state. We’ll also feature some of these events in the Jan./Feb. issue of the GFB News.
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CONSERVATION PROGRAMS APPLICATION DEADLINE IS DEC. 10 Farmers wishing to enroll in the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) have until Dec. 10 to turn in their applications. The GRP assists landowners and operators in restoring or protecting grassland, including rangeland, pasture, shrub land and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas for grazing. The GRP emphasizes support for working grazing operations, maintaining and improving plant and animal biodiversity, and protection of grasslands and shrub lands from the threat of conversion to uses other than grazing. Participants voluntarily limit future uses of the land while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices. The FRPP is designed to protect agricultural use and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting non-agricultural uses of the land. The program provides matching funds to state, tribal or local governments and non-governmental organizations with existing farm and ranch land protection programs to purchase conservation easements for the purpose of protecting the agricultural use and limiting non-agricultural uses of the land. The United States Department of Agricultureâ€™s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) enters into cooperative agreements with eligible counties that have active farm and ranch land protection programs to acquire conservation easements. Under the WRP, participants voluntarily limit use of the land but retain private ownership. Landowners get financial and technical assistance in return for protecting wetlands and developing wildlife and recreational opportunities on their land. Enrollment options include permanent easements, 30-year easements and restoration cost-share agreements. For more information about these and other programs conducted by the NRCS, visit http://www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov/programs. FSA COUNTY COMMITTEE ELECTIONS CLOSE ON DEC. 6 Elections for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees began on Nov. 5 and run through Dec. 6, the deadline to submit ballots to local FSA offices. County committee members give input and make decisions on the local administration of new disaster and conservation programs under the 2008 farm bill. The committee provides a link between the local agricultural community and the USDA. Producers elected to county committees help deliver FSA programs at the local level, using their knowledge to make decisions on commodity price support loans and payments, conservation programs, incentive indemnity and disaster payments for some commodities, emergency programs and payment eligibility. Eligible voters who have not received ballots can obtain them from their local USDA Service Center. To be an eligible voter, producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age but supervises or conducts the farming operations of an entire farm may also be eligible to vote. Each committee has between three and 11 members who serve three-year terms. For more information on county committees, visit your local USDA Service Center in person or go online to http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 DEADLINE FOR POULTRY LOSS CONTRACT ASSISTANCE IS NOV. 24 Poultry growers have until Nov. 24 to apply for the USDA’s Poultry Loss Contract Assistance Program, which was set up for Georgia poultry growers whose arrangements were terminated when Pilgrim’s Pride declared bankruptcy. Losses must have occurred between May 1, 2008 and July 1, 2010 for them to be eligible. For more information, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture Animal Industry Division at 404-656-3671 AQUACULTURE GRANT PROGRAM SIGNUP DEADLINE IS DEC. 1 Georgia aquaculture producers who suffered financial losses associated with high feed input costs during in the 2009 calendar year have until Dec. 1 to apply for assistance. Call the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) Grants Administration Office at 404-463-6851 for more information. The ad hoc disaster assistance is part of an agreement between Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and the Obama administration to fund disaster aid administratively rather than through passage of a disaster bill. The Aquaculture Grant Program provided $102,501 to the GDA to distribute to Georgia aquaculture producers. COMMERCIAL LANDSCAPING COURSE SET Dec. 3 University of Georgia campus Griffin Set from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the UGA Research and Education Garden, the class will cover site analysis and bed preparation, woody and herbaceous plant selection, fertilization and irrigation, and troubleshooting. Participants will also learn the basics of landscape equipment selection. Instructors will be UGA horticulturists Bodi Pennisi and Bob Westerfield. Commercial and private pesticide credit in category 24 will also be awarded. The program costs $40 and includes lunch. To register, visit the website http://tinyurl.com/29ux462. For more information, contact Val Schott at (770) 233-5598 or email@example.com. GEORGIA FARM BUREAU 72nd ANNUAL MEETING Dec. 5-7 Jekyll’s Historic District Convention Campus Jekyll Island This annual event includes addresses from Governor-elect Nathan Deal and GFB President Zippy Duvall, the organization’s policy development session, commodity conferences, the final round of the Young Farmer Discussion Meet, announcement of 2010 state award winners and a trade show. For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau office. CROP ASSISTANCE PROGAM SIGNUP DEADLINE IS DEC. 9 The USDA is accepting applications for its Crop Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to producers of upland cotton, sweet potatoes or soybeans in Georgia counties that received a secretarial disaster designation in 2009 for losses associated with excessive rains. Contact your local FSA office for more information. CALHOUN PERFORMANCE TESTED BULL SALE Dec. 10 NW Ga. Research & Education Center Livestock Pavilion Calhoun Sale begins at 12:30 p.m. Contacts are Ted Dyer at 706-624-1403 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Phil Worley at 706-624-1398 or email@example.com. SOUTHEAST REGIONAL FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CONFERENCE Jan. 6-9, 2011 International Trade and Convention Center Savannah The North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association will hold their annual meeting in conjunction with this conference, which will include more than 85 hours of commodity-specific production training, pest management and marketing updates. For more information or to register go to http://www.gfvga.org or call 706-845-8200. Take advantage of early bird discounts by registering before Dec. 15.