The Continuing Resolution (CR) and Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 83), (dubbed the Cromnibus), included several priority issues for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau members. Already signed by President Obama, issues of note for Wisconsin farmers included:
Truck Weights – The bill provides a grandfather clause for truck weight limits on a specific section of Highway 41 that will be converted to the federal highway system. Trucks operating on this specific section of Highway 41 can continue to travel at the higher weight limit.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program – The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include the white potato in the WIC Program.
Clean Water – The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps to withdraw the March 2014 interpretive rule entitled “Interpretive Rule Regarding the Applicability of the Clean Water Act Section 404(f)(1)(a).” While this provision is a step in the right direction, it does not address the underlying legal and policy concerns of the proposed “waters of the U.S.” regulation. WFBF will continue to address its concerns about EPA’s overreach of regulatory authority in the next Congress.
Country-of-Origin Labeling – The bill directs the USDA to make proposals to the law by May 1 or within 15 days of a decision by the World Trade Organization.
The Beef Checkoff Program – The bill prevents the USDA from implementing a new beef checkoff program.
Greenhouse Gases – The bill exempts livestock producers from burdensome EPA greenhouse gas regulations, and relieves livestock operations from EPA permitting requirements.
The Tax Increase Prevention Action 2014 includes several positive tax provisions for Wisconsin farmers that expired at the end of 2013. On December 16, the Senate passed H.R. 5771, the long-awaited Tax Increase Prevention Action 2014, by a 76-16 vote. The bill retroactively reinstates for one year (2014) more than 50 tax provisions that expired at the end of last year.
Several key provisions for Wisconsin farmers included in H.R. 5771 are:
Small Business Expensing (Section 179) – The maximum amount small business can immediately expense when purchasing business assets instead of depreciating them over time will be $500,000 reduced dollar for dollar when expenditures exceed $2 million.
Bonus Depreciation – There will be an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment.
Locks and Dams – A nine cent increase in the excise tax on fuel for inland waterways to fund locks and dams. This increase was supported by many users of the inland waterways. Essential repairs and updates to the antiquated lock and dam transportation will allow for more efficient movement of agricultural inputs and commodities.
Donated Food – Provides an enhanced tax deduction to farmers who donate food from their farms to food banks.
This bill also contains a variety of energy provisions for renewable fuels.
“The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation would like to thank those members of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation who voted in support of these two bills,” Director of Governmental Relations Karen Gefvert said. “Your commitment to Wisconsin farmers is appreciated.”