Appropriations Bill Falls Short for Farmers While Tax Bill Offers Hope

Taylor Hillman General

The National Corn Growers Association today expressed concern over some key provisions left out of the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill as posted last night.

While the association applauds Congress in moving forward with a bill that would fund government through the end of this fiscal year and bring the U.S. into compliance with the World Trade Organization on Country of Origin Labeling, it is disappointed that important issues were left unaddressed.

Regarding the Act, NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland, issued the following statement:

“The FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Bill certainly serves Americans by providing stable funding for the government but, in some respects, it falls short for America’s farmers.

“Notably, corn farmers are pleased the Congress included language bringing the United States back into compliance with our WTO obligation by repealing COOL for beef and pork. U.S. livestock accounted for more than 38 percent of demand for our corn in 2015, and it is important that we will avoid the negative impacts on that and other corn markets which retaliation by Mexico and Canada would have brought about.

“Yet, overall, Congress placed great importance on further bolstering Big Oil at the expense of taking up issues of great importance for America’s farm families. From failing to preempt the pending patchwork of state-level GMO labeling laws to refusing to prohibit funding of Water of the U.S. implementation, rural America will face a darker new year as the future grows even brighter for oil industry interests.”

Of the provisions Congress chose to leave out of this bill, those which will be most detrimental to U.S. farmers include: the aforementioned GMO labeling and WOTUS provisions; language which would have provided relief in the ethanol sector by fixing the Reid Vapor Pressure standards; and funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program.

For a summary of the changes made through ag appropriations in this bill, click here.

Among the more positive developments, America’s farmers did receive important support from Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes bill also posted last night. This bill, which outlines a $650 billon tax package, included language on Section 179 and bonus depreciation.

If passed, the provisions addressing Section 179 would permanently cap the small business deduction for capital expenses at $500,000, instead of $25,000. This would be retroactive for 2015 and represents an important step forward for farmers, as NCGA has worked to make such language permanent for many years.

The Bonus Depreciation language would be extended for five years at 50 percent for 2015-2017, 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019. NCGA had also advocated for this provision.

“While we had hoped for a stronger showing of support for America’s farmers in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, we applaud Congress for the important changes to the tax codes which will provide our industry with the consistent, reliable tax planning ability that helps us thrive as independent businesses,” said Bowling.