Section 4 - Energy / Monetary-Tax / Miscellaneous

Section 4 - Energy / Monetary-Tax / Miscellaneous

ENERGY 

401 / Electric Power Generation

1.             The production, transmission and distribution of power, including the production of electricity from atomic materials, should be primarily a function of private enterprise, including cooperatives, and of other non-federal electrical utility systems.

2.         The price of power sold by public agencies should include an amount equal to the federal income taxes and local property taxes and such amounts should be paid to the appropriate units of government in lieu of taxes.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Limiting federal production or transmission of power to instances where it is clearly demonstrated that adequate development cannot be obtained otherwise;

3.2.      Selling power produced by a federal agency, at the plant;

3.3.      Selling the right to generate power at federal dam sites to private enterprise or local units of government unless it would adversely affect the cost of electricity to rural America;

3.4.      Granting cooperatives and municipalities the first opportunity to purchase federal power subject to such modifications as may be necessary to accomplish equitable geographic distribution;

3.5.      Protecting water of a quality which is useful for agricultural and domestic consumption uses, whenever practicable;

3.6.      Complying with standards to reduce electrical ground currents;

3.7.      Regulating power rates effectively, treating customers fairly and servicing franchised territory responsibly; and

3.8.      Including agriculture representatives among stakeholders designated as advisors to Regional Transmission Organizations/Independent System Operators.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      Legislative or regulatory programs that will increase the cost of electricity to businesses, farms and industries without evidence that the program is needed; and

4.2.      Requiring utilities to collect funds from customers or members to finance residential utility consumer action groups or any other organization.

5.         Electricity Infrastructure 

5.1.      An owner of a utility tower should be responsible for the removal and disposal of the tower once its use is discontinued.

5.2.      The federal government should be required to give local communities and states prior knowledge of a pending utility permit before a proposed utility right of way is granted.

5.3.      We support:

5.3.1.   Increasing electrical generation capacity by updating old and constructing new power plants and transmission lines to keep pace with increased demand in the United States and its territories;

5.3.2.   Shortening the permitting process for construction or improving power generating plants;

5.3.3.   Upgrading the infrastructure for the electric grid to ensure security, reliability and survivability; and

5.3.4.   Developing additional connections between utility and transmission infrastructure that could provide energy customers direct access to lower cost energy supplies.

5.4.      We oppose the Department of Energy's (DOE) ability to use eminent domain to override state authority when siting energy corridors under the 2005 energy act. DOE should act in an advisory capacity only.

5.5.      We oppose any government mandates with respect to the use of smart meters.

6.         Electric Utility Restructuring 

6.1.      The federal government should set the framework for the implementation of changes in the structure of the electric utility industry, but should allow state government to decide whether or not to deregulate.

6.2.      We oppose deregulating electric utilities because it may result in higher power costs and distribution problems.

6.3.      The following principles must be met if electric utilities are restructured and deregulated:

6.3.1.   Changes in the structure of the electric industry must not be undertaken without full and informed public debate;

6.3.2.   Benefits of deregulation should be measured primarily in terms of economic and social consequences;

6.3.3.   Restructuring should ensure that all customers have access to reliable electrical service at fair and reasonable prices;

6.3.4.   Restructuring should be consistent with the goals of protecting the environment, and use cost-effective sustainable energy technologies;

6.3.5.   Restructuring should maintain adequate staff levels and training to ensure safety, reliability, customer service and planning standards;

6.3.6.   Rural consumers must be assured of reliable service and competitive prices;

6.3.7.   Provide a phase-in to purchase electric power in a competitive market;

6.3.8.   Provide a mechanism for smaller customers to pool their electric power consumption into a larger marketable share through aggregation in order to attract and better obtain low-cost electric power; and

6.3.9.   Provide authority for rural electric cooperatives to:

6.3.9.1.            Decide whether to enter into a deregulated marketplace;

6.3.9.2.            Retain control through their elected representatives;

6.3.9.3.            Continue to provide operation and maintenance of distribution lines and services;

6.3.9.4.            Preserve territories in established service areas when municipalities expand into these areas through annexation; and

6.3.9.5.            Have full cost recovery for the use of their distribution lines; and retain their present tax status.

7.         Hydroelectric Facilities - Federal Licenses 

7.1.      We favor federal relicensing of hydroelectric generation facilities in a manner that will protect agriculture's interest in maintaining the availability of lowest cost energy. The entity that constructed and operated the generation facility during the original license period should be given a preference for the license extension.

7.2.      If a license should be revoked or not renewed, the utility must be compensated at current value by the federal government.

8.         Nuclear Electricity 

8.1.      We support:

8.1.1.   Nuclear energy plants, as a source of needed energy with adequate safeguards to ensure their safe and environmentally sound use;

8.1.2.   Studying the impact of nuclear power plant emissions upon the surrounding agricultural community. The operator of a nuclear facility, prior to beginning of operation and at regular intervals thereafter, should be required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to educate neighboring farmers on emergency agricultural practices and procedures to be followed in the event of a nuclear accident; and

8.1.3.   Reprocessing nuclear waste to generate additional energy.

9.         Renewable Electricity 

9.1.      We support:

9.1.1.   Using renewable sources of electricity such as wind, biomass, solar, tidal, hydroelectric, methane from manure and landfills;

9.1.2.   Using biomass fuels for electric power generation whenever economically feasible;

9.1.3.   Developing renewable fuels, clean coal, and next generation nuclear technologies in order to keep the costs of electrical energy affordable;

9.1.4.   Encouraging the use of switchgrass or biomass residue as a source of fly-ash in cement as an alternative to coal fly-ash. The American Society of Testing Materials should conduct research and establish cement specifications for fly-ash from co-fired electrical generation from sources other than coal;

9.1.5.   Using electrical generation turbines at navigation dams without government regulations or permits;

9.1.6.   Researching and developing methods for storing electricity generated from renewable resources; and

9.1.7.   Mandating that renewable energy/electricity be purchased at a minimum of the wholesale price.

10.       Rural Electric Utilities 

10.1.    We recommend that the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) be preserved as an independent agency within USDA and that steps be taken to ensure that key administrative functions, including those pertaining to the establishment of technical and engineering standards, are retained within RUS.

10.2.    We support:

10.2.1. A properly designed federal revolving fund that is an integral part of the means to provide the rural electric cooperatives adequate credit to maintain and strengthen their systems. Such a revolving fund should include an adequate rate of interest to keep the fund solvent and be used in conjunction with private capital to finance the system; and

10.2.2. Organizing and operating rural electric cooperatives in accordance with accepted cooperative principles and practices.

10.3.    We oppose any plan or effort to convert rural electric cooperatives into a public power system.

11.       Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) 

11.1.    TVA's debt is a problem for the agency. TVA rate payers should not bear the burden of a debt created to benefit the nation as a whole.

11.2.    We support:

11.2.1. Working toward a fair debt payment;

11.2.2. Allowing TVA to compete fairly in the total marketplace to remain a reliable power generator; and

11.2.3. Requiring at least one director be a farmer-landowner Farm Bureau member.

11.3.    We oppose:

11.3.1. Allowing the TVA reclassifying farm accounts; and

11.3.2. Continuing TVA in its present form as it has achieved most of its original goals and purposes.

402 / Energy

1.             The U.S. should be focused on energy independence.

2.         We support the development and implementation of a comprehensive energy policy, which includes conservation, efficiency, exploration, research, and proportional use of subsidies to provide for the production of traditional and renewable energy sources. However, further action is needed to address the vulnerabilities of the U.S. energy sector and the resulting impacts on our nation's farmers and ranchers.

3.         We stand behind the U.S. coal industry and coal-fired electrical generating plants to help achieve energy independence. We oppose efforts to comply with international environmental goals for coal power plants.

4.         We believe that a government requirement/mandate for electric car production and use should be matched by concurrent approval for the construction and/or upgrades for reliable electric generation facilities to deliver the power needed. We support charging electric cars in off-peak hours.

5.         We urge Congress and the administration to enact policies that will: 

5.1.      Encourage the states to develop and implement regulations for the handling of abandoned oil and gas production equipment and pipelines;

5.2.      Expedite the development of energy resources anywhere in the U.S., including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Outer Continental Shelf and Bakken oil fields;

5.3.      Increase domestic oil refining capacity by modifying and streamlining permitting requirements and other regulations;

5.4.      Diversify geographic locations of oil refineries and U.S. energy supplies;

5.5.      Encourage exploration, extraction, pipeline and port facility construction to ensure gas and oil supplies meet demand;

5.6.      Require pipelines carrying hazardous liquid be installed to a minimum depth of 48 inches below the soil surface where applicable;

5.7.      Reduce the number of boutique fuels;

5.8.      Increase incentives for the use of clean coal technology in electric power generation;

5.9.      Stimulate domestic production of oil and gas by reinstating the depletion allowance, eliminating the tax disincentives for drilling and removing excessive environmental regulations;

5.10.    Support further development of nuclear, solar, geothermal, bio-based, hydroelectric, oil shale, tar sands, wind and other sources of energy and recommend that special emphasis be given to converting to expanded use of coal, including gasification, liquefaction and alcohol production; and

5.11.    Order a thorough economic impact study be completed to demonstrate the true benefits derived from the domestic production of renewable energy to assist in our nation becoming self-sufficient in energy production.

6.         We support:

6.1.      The goals of 25 x '25 which are: "Agriculture will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States by 2025 while continuing to produce abundant, safe and affordable food, feed and fiber";

6.2.      Department of Energy (DOE) developing a grant program for the installation of alternative energy systems on farms;

6.3.      Educational programs and incentives to promote sound energy conservation renewable energy programs; 

6.4.      The oil and gas industries' use of hydraulic fracturing in the exploration and recovery process. Hydraulic fracturing should continue to be regulated by the states, rather than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and

6.5.      Voluntary energy audits to help evaluate energy use and develop energy strategies for livestock facilities, dairies, nurseries, and greenhouses.

7.         We oppose:

7.1.      The federal mandate banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs;

7.2.      Government rationing as a means of allocating scarce energy supplies, except in the case of national emergencies. In such cases, agriculture should receive uninterrupted supplies;

7.3.      So-called "divorcement" legislation, at state or national level, which would prevent anyone, including farm cooperatives, who sells gasoline at wholesale from selling gasoline at retail; 

7.4.      The U.S. government subsidizing gas exploration in other countries;

7.5.      Alternative electrical energy being paid more than the bulk market rate.  Any such contracts should be allowed to expire; and

7.6.      The federal government’s Clean Power Plan that addresses coal-fired generation.

8.         Crude Oil 

8.1.      We support a gradual increase in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

8.2.      We oppose:

8.2.1.   Establishing oil prices through legislation; and

8.2.2.   Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in non-emergency situations.

9.         Natural Gas 

9.1.      Extensive changes need to be made to laws and procedures governing the review, approval, location and construction of interstate gas pipelines. In particular, we would recommend changes to law that would:

9.1.1.   Require governmental agencies to timely notify all landowners who would be affected by a proposed gas pipeline under their jurisdiction;

9.1.2.   Require gas pipeline operators to provide compensation to landowners for not only all current losses but also all future losses which may result from condemnations for gas pipeline use, and require operators to pay such compensation within six months of the date the landowner loses his or her property interest;

9.1.3.   Require a minimum 5-year restitution period for the tile and compaction disruption on public easement; and

9.1.4.   Require gas pipeline operators to drain any area which has become a wetland as a result of pipeline construction and restore such area to its previous condition and productivity.

9.2.      We support:

9.2.1.   Allowing natural gas companies to renegotiate take-or-pay contracts for transmission lines in order to decrease the price of such gas;

9.2.2.   Continuing the Surface Transportation Board's role in overseeing pipeline rates;

9.2.3.   Revising the Federal Power Act and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 so the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is supported by general revenue funds rather than pipeline fees;

9.2.4.   Incentivizing the use of natural gas in agriculture, transportation, and electrical generation;

9.2.5.   Methanol production from natural gas for fuel use; and

9.2.6.   Odorization of natural gas or components when being transported so that leaks can be safely detected.

10.       Renewable Energy 

10.1.    All tax incentives for domestic renewable energy production should be calculated on a standard Btu/kwh equivalent measurement basis, without regard to the materials methods or sources used to produce the energy.

10.2.    We support:

10.2.1. Incentive programs and initiatives that will increase the use of, and facilitate the local ownership of all renewable energy sources;

10.2.2. Incentives for renewable energy systems in rural areas as long as it does not restrict agricultural production;

10.2.3. The ownership of methane as separate from other energy resources; and

10.2.4. Increased funding for the AGSTAR (methane promotion) program.

403 / Mineral Development

1.             We support restoration of those concepts of the 1872 mining law that guarantee the rights and freedom of prospectors and miners.

2.         We support legislation:

2.1.      That clearly states that ownership of all rights not specifically reserved by the U.S. government by Homestead or any other land transfer acts rest with the fee title owner;

2.2.      That reverses the Supreme Court decision classifying gravel as a mineral subject to reservation;

2.3.      That ensures that property owners and tenants are fully compensated for all property and environmental damages, including crop and pasture losses, caused by mineral operations on their properties;

2.4.      That clarifies that water released from a quarry site must be demonstrated to contain pollutants before the quarry operator should be required to obtain a national pollution discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit;

2.5.      To fund the Rural Abandoned Mine Program and Abandoned Mined Lands programs, based upon the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977; and

2.6.      To amend the Mining Lands Reclamation Act to ensure landowners have rights regarding the reclamation of our land.

3.         We support rules and regulations that:

3.1.      Allow our nation to use our abundant supply of coal to achieve energy independence;

3.2.      Require the reclamation of all mined lands, including disrupted underground and surface water, including research on backfill to reduce the subsidence caused by longwall mining;

3.3.      Treat surface owners fairly by requiring landowner consent in energy recovery company-landowner negotiations;

3.4.      Encourage states to develop their own reclamation standards, which could exceed federal standards in order to protect the local environment;

3.5.      Allow construction of ditches following reclamation to be done in a direct route to accommodate agricultural practices;

3.6.      Curtail unnecessary bureaucratic administrative delays in the processing of leases;

3.7.      Require the federal government to release the entire amount collected in fees from mining operations for the reclamation of abandoned mines;

3.8.      Amend the compliance levels for ground vibrations and air blasting associated with mining and construction operations. These compliance levels should be set at a reasonable level to protect property owners;

3.9.      Eliminate uneconomic and unreasonable requirements to return strip-mined land to its original contour when such restoration will not return it to its most productive level;

3.10.    Amend the 11 federal surface mining regulations imposed in order to allow land use changes from pre-mining to post mining, to provide an agricultural land use category, which would include agricultural crops such as grain, hay, pasture and timber in one group. However, such federal regulations should not preempt state reclamation regulations; and

3.11.    Allow frac sand mining, and develop regulations based on sound science.

4.         We oppose government regulations that result in the closure of coal mines.

404 / Renewable Fuels

1.             We support:

1.1.      Full research and development for the increased production of all forms of renewable energy from agricultural resources including solutions to help producers effectively manage soil and water conservation issues and control invasive species;

1.2.      Private and public efforts to develop and promote new uses for agricultural products;

1.3.      Research into the viability and economic potential of agricultural products and commodities used for energy generation;

1.4.      Production and use of agricultural based fuels;

1.5.      Research and demonstration programs that use renewable fuel as a fuel for fuel cell engine development; 

1.6.      The Renewable Fuels Standard 2 (RFS2) as passed in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007; and

1.7.      The availability of non-ethanol gasoline for small engine, marine and boutique uses.

2.         Biofuels 

2.1.      We support:

2.1.1.   The establishment and enforcement of national quality standards for biodiesel, renewable fuel and related co-products. Biodiesel shall be defined by meeting the specifications of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) 6751 or its properly designated successor;

2.1.2.   Diesel to be a biodiesel blend and gasoline be an renewable fuel blend;

2.1.3.   Efforts to educate consumers and industry on the benefits of biofuel blends higher than ten percent;

2.1.4.   Legislation requiring the production of clear gasoline that would accommodate year-round blending with ethanol in all fuels;

2.1.5.   Research for the development of alternative denaturing options, in an attempt to make the denaturing of renewable fuel more economical;

2.1.6.   Including biodiesel in all the Department of Energy's (DOE) policies and materials regarding alternative and renewable fuels;

2.1.7.   Regulatory approval and use of higher ethanol blends in high-octane fuels to help automobile manufacturers meet fuel efficiency standards;

2.1.8.   Standardization of all new gasoline dispensers to be Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified for a minimum of E-25;

2.1.9.   U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) adoption and use of renewable fuels; and

2.1.10. Efforts to expand the use of renewable fuel in commercial aviation, maritime, and other large-volume users.

2.2.      We oppose attempts to defund, repeal or rollback implementation of the RFS2.

3.         Biomass 

3.1.      We support:

3.1.1.   Defining biomass to include all forms of plant fiber harvested from all lands, public and private;

3.1.2.   Harvesting of lowland and riparian areas for biomass use except lands enrolled in retirement programs;

3.1.3.   Increasing the establishment, production and utilization of eligible biomass energy crops through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program; and

3.1.4.   Retaining and developing policies which support the biomass fuels industry.

3.2.      We oppose declaring any potential biomass crop ineligible for use in any biomass energy incentive program simply because it is non-native.

4.         Co-products 

4.1.      We support:

4.1.1.   Continued research and education into ruminant and non-ruminant feed utilization of renewable fuel co-products;

4.1.2.   Renewable fuel producers be encouraged and offered incentives to use recycled effluent water produced by local municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the production process; and

4.1.3.   Adding price reporting for corn and its co-products, including dry distillers grains (DDGs), to the U.S. Census Bureau Current Industrial Reports as well as to the Bureau's domestic and international market reports.

5.         Emissions 

5.1.      We support:

5.1.1.   Oxygenate standards unless there are enhancements of laws and regulations (anti-backsliding) that preserve the improvements in air quality that renewable fuel provides as a fuel;

5.1.2.   Promoting, using and expanding renewable fuel as an octane or cetane enhancer, fuel source, or lubricity agent to improve air quality. Our goal is to expand the use of renewable fuels;

5.1.3.   Continuing tests on E diesel to prove the viability of an ethanol additive to lower the particulates in diesel engine emissions;

5.1.4.   Amending the Clean Air Act to hold states harmless for emission levels resulting from emergency waivers granted by EPA;

5.1.5.   Designating the cost of purchasing biodiesel as an allowable expense in the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program;

5.1.6.   Changing tests for low-sulfur fuel to be based on levels of sulfur rather than testing for red dye;

5.1.7.   Using biodiesel to meet up to 100 percent of an affected utility or government fleet emission reduction requirements under the Energy Policy Act of 1992; and

5.1.8.   Accommodation issues surrounding Reid Vapor Pressure to ensure ethanol volumes can continue to expand.

5.2.      We are opposed to states being exempt from the oxygenate requirements of the Clean Air Act.

6.         Engines and Vehicles 

6.1.      We support:

6.1.1.   Research for better performing engines that run on renewable fuels;

6.1.2.   Legislation to require all new gasoline-powered vehicles be flex-fuel;

6.1.3.   Industry standards that would require all vehicles capable of burning E85 fuel to be equipped with a yellow gas cap to distinguish this capability; and

6.1.4.   Using renewable fuels in all federal vehicles where available.

7.         Incentives, Tariffs and Taxes 

7.1.      We support a continuation of the biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol producers excise tax credits, as well as federal incentives for gas stations to install blender pumps for ethanol distribution infrastructure until such time as market conditions warrant their phase out.

8.         Infrastructure 

8.1.      We support:

8.1.1.   Timely certification by UL of dispensing equipment for all renewable fuel products, including all storage tanks and pumping equipment;

8.1.2.   All diesel engine manufacturers adopting biodiesel as an alternative for complying with EPA emission control standards;

8.1.3.   Streamlining and expediting the process for issuing permits for the construction and operation of refineries for the production of renewable fuels and coal gasification;

8.1.4.   Distributing renewable fuels via pipelines or other cost effective means;

8.1.5.   Color coding fuel pumps to indicate blends of liquid energy; and

8.1.6.   Reporting and publishing of renewable fuel production and renewable fuel plant construction on a timely basis by an entity such as the DOE.

FISCAL / GENERAL ECONOMY 

415 / Agricultural Credit

1.             Producers need a variety of credit sources at the lowest possible interest rates. While competition in farm credit markets is in the best, long term interests of agriculture, we encourage commercial banks, the Farm Credit System (the System) and other lenders to seek out opportunities to cooperate in meeting the financing needs of farmers.

2.         We support the following principles:

2.1.      Individuals or institutions that hold mortgages or instruments that would normally require a certificate of release in order that a clear title may be presented, shall upon maturity or other satisfaction of said instruments, file a certificate of release in the local government entity of affected property at their expense within 30 days;

2.2.      Lenders should not be permitted to retain mineral interests when disposing of real property;

2.3.      Federal small business grants should not exclude beginning farmers and ranchers and entrepreneurs without any employees. Grants should be awarded based on the character of the applicant and the merit of business and financial plans submitted;

2.4.      Adequate incentives should be available for beginning farmers to access capital, should not be based on age and should be indexed to reflect current asset values;

2.5.      The VA loan program should be expanded to allow veterans to purchase farmland;

2.6.      Small business government guaranteed loans should be available and promoted for U.S. citizens;

2.7.      Federal banking regulators should establish sound risk-based capital requirements that continue in times of economic downturns; and

2.8.      Prospective borrowers should be protected from undue pressure to purchase insurance from institutions lending them money.

3.         Farm Service Agency (FSA) 

3.1.      We support:

3.1.1.   Requiring FSA loans be secured by adequate collateral and reasonable repayment capacity;

3.1.2.   The loan process should be streamlined, to allow producers and lenders to implement or change management plans;

3.1.3.   FSA expediting loan processing to allow farmers ample time to make planting decisions;

3.1.4.   A requirement that FSA ensure clipping and noxious weed control is performed on acquired property;

3.1.5.   The FSA providing adequate levels and terms of credit;

3.1.6.   A review and recommendations of appropriate FSA agency policy on loan term limits, loan size limits, interest rate subsidies and performance audits of FSA lending branches;

3.1.7.   Extending the low-interest loan program for storage facilities to livestock forage crop storage structures, and also include controlled atmosphere structures;

3.1.8.   A requirement that FSA-acquired property be offered first to qualified FSA young farmers and ranchers;

3.1.9.   FSA farm labor housing loans;

3.1.10. Easements or FSA inventoried lands remaining with FSA rather than allowing for transfer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or state agencies;

3.1.11. A much broader definition of on-farm income;

3.1.12. Horse boarding operations being covered under the FSA programs;

3.1.13. Increasing FSA farm loans for grain and forage storage and grain handling equipment for farmers and landowners;

3.1.14. Flexible cash rent agreements be treated as a standard cash rent agreement for FSA purposes and payments with the producer receiving 100 percent of those payments;

3.1.15. Increased caps on and funding available for FSA loans to beginning farmers;

3.1.16. Eliminating minimum years of farming participation for beginning farmer loan programs;

3.1.17. Changes to regulation so that FSA cannot require recipients of gas or oil royalties to apply 100 percent of the proceeds from royalties to loan principal when the creditor has either direct or guaranteed loans; and

3.1.18. FSA having appropriations available to all approved loans within 90 days.

4.         Commercial Banks 

4.1.      We support:

4.1.1.   Regulators striking a balance between banking capital requirements which preclude lending to qualified farmers and making sure that financing for agriculture does not repeat mistakes on credit worthiness;

4.1.2.   Easing Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Community Bank regulations in order to stabilize real estate values and energize small business;

4.1.3.   Requiring only those uniform commercial code forms signed at the time of closing be recorded as legal documents;

4.1.4.   Requiring lending institutions to notify borrowers when uniform commercial code liens are renewed; 

4.1.5.   Changes to the banking laws to ensure that the “structured deposit” prohibition is not enforced as a stand-alone crime. The government should only prosecute depositors who have committed other felonies using a structured deposit scheme; and

4.1.6.   Defendants charged with “structuring” should be afforded due process before any money is seized.

4.2.      We oppose:

4.2.1.   Regulations that are restrictive, inflexible and damage farmers' and ranchers' ability to obtain and keep adequate financing;

4.2.2.   Any federal or state banking transaction tax or fee; and

4.2.3.   Financially responsible institutions should not be penalized for the excessive risk taken by other institutions.

5.         Farm Credit System 

5.1.      Preservation of the System is in the long-term best interest of U.S. agriculture. The System should remain a farmer-owned, federally chartered system of banks and associations. We support efforts to make patronage allocations and cash distributions a higher priority than building capital reserves.

5.2.      We support:

5.2.1.   Lending primarily to farmers, agricultural cooperatives and agribusiness;

5.2.2.   Full disclosure of financial condition;

5.2.3.   Removal of the statutory exit provision from the Farm Credit Act;

5.2.4.   Retention of regulatory authority by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) and oppose the regulation of the System by the U.S. Treasury Department or any other regulatory authority;

5.2.5.   FCA examination of regulatory burdens and capital requirements to ensure System institutions can be competitive;

5.2.6.   The 1938 Memorandum of Understanding between the System and the Forest Service allowing grazing permits to be used as loan collateral;

5.2.7.   Farmers and ranchers serving on the boards of directors of System institutions and are opposed to their replacement on the boards by commercial bankers;

5.2.8.   The System expanding its authority to allow rural lending which meets the changing production and marketing needs of agriculture;

5.2.9.   The need to modernize and expand the System’s ability to serve agriculture and rural America to help them compete and thrive in the emerging global market; 

5.2.10. The population limit for rural home loans being increased; and

5.2.11. Medical liabilities not being listed as a derogatory on a credit report.

5.3.      We oppose allowing commercial banks to have access to money procured by virtue of the System's agency status.

6.         Farmer Mac 

6.1.      We support:

6.1.1.   Farmer Mac as a viable source of farm credit; and

6.1.2.   Legislation that would provide agriculture producers a priority lien on crop, livestock and other agricultural products that are sold to brokers, processors, accumulators and end users.

7.         Aggie Bonds 

7.1.      We support:

7.1.1.   The Tax Exempt Agricultural Bond for Beginning Farmers or “Aggie Bond” program used by state agencies to assist farmers and ranchers with purchases of farmland, breeding stock and farm improvements; and

7.1.2.   Changing the word “median” to “average” in the definition of previously owned real estate to make more beginning farmers eligible for the Aggie Bond program.

8.         Small Business Administration 

8.1.      We support: 

8.1.1.   The Small Business Administration (SBA) partnering with commercial lenders as another provider of guarantees for agricultural loans; and 

8.1.2.   Continued funding for SBA programs. 

416 / Bonding and Bankruptcy

1.             The licensing and bonding regulations of the Federal Warehouse Act should be strengthened to protect farmers in the storage of agricultural products by increasing bonding requirements from $500,000 to $1,000,000. Federal licensing of warehouses shall not preempt state license requirements and regulatory authority, including but not limited to examinations, audits, scale inspections and indemnity fund collections.

2.         Bankruptcy laws and regulations should be governed by the following principles:

2.1.      Farmers who have delivered commodities or other products to a purchaser that subsequently files for bankruptcy without paying for those commodities or other products, should have first claim on the commodity inventory and all assets of that purchaser;

2.2.      Dealers or brokers of agricultural products not regulated by the Packers and Stockyards Act or a federal marketing order should be bonded;

2.3.      A federal guarantee fund to pay producers for losses suffered for nonpayment for commodities should not be established unless first approved by a producer referendum;

2.4.      Bankruptcy laws should provide more severe penalties for people who fraudulently declare bankruptcy and should require a period of 10 years between bankruptcy filings; and

2.5.      Commission merchants, dealers and brokers, who are insolvent, in receivership, in trusteeship or in bankruptcy, must provide written notice of the bankruptcy to growers and suppliers for agricultural commodities before the commodity is purchased or put under contract.

417 / Credit Card Transactions

1.             We support legislation at the federal level that exempts farms from interstate commerce, pertaining to credit card sales.

418 / Fiscal Policy

1.             In order to protect the future integrity of our nation's economy it is in our best interest to address budget deficits, which erode our ability to remain fiscally stable. We support a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

2.         We support the concept of sequestration as a possible tool to achieve a balanced budget. However, we believe no programs should be exempt from cuts.

3.         We believe Congress should retain control of the national debt as delineated in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution and that the debt ceiling should only be increased by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.

4.         All of our elected Representatives should be involved directly in any debt debate, and the debate should be held in an open forum.

5.         Government economic policies should be designed to encourage economic stability, to increase productivity, to improve our competitive advantage in the international market and to promote a high level of economic prosperity.

6.         The definition of "spending cut" should be an actual reduction in dollars spent and the definition of "budget cut" should be an actual reduction in dollars budgeted.

7.         The federal deficit should be reduced each year. Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid, tax policy and government spending all require adjustments to achieve a balanced budget. Spending restraint should be prioritized over increasing taxes.

8.         Federal expenditures on government services and entitlements must be reduced. All departments of the government should be examined for cuts in spending, including cost-of-living adjustments.

9.         We believe:

9.1.      In open disclosure of government spending at all levels;

9.2.      All government agencies should be required to return unspent money to the Department of the Treasury without a penalty;

9.3.      Agencies and programs that are not reauthorized by Congress should not be funded;

9.4.      All new federal programs should sunset;

9.5.      Dedicated trust funds should be used for their intended purpose and not be used to mask the size of the federal deficit;

9.6.      Federal budget surpluses should be used to reduce the federal debt;

9.7.      Any tax increases should be used to balance the budget and should sunset once this goal is accomplished. Tax increases should not be utilized to create an opportunity to spend money on new programs;

9.8.      The economic benefits of proposed tax code changes should be recognized and dynamic scoring should be used to determine their impact on federal revenue; and

9.9.      Federal mandates to state and local governments and agricultural producers must provide complete and continuous funding or be eliminated.

10.       We support the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act that would limit activities and affiliations between commercial banks and security firms.

11.       We oppose:

11.1.    Awarding federal monies to citizen action groups;

11.2.    Federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts;

11.3.    Withholding funds to force compliance with federal programs;

11.4.    The federal government bailing out states and cities that are in financial trouble; and

11.5.    Changing the budget status of programs to mask federal spending or taxation.

12.       The Federal Reserve 

12.1.    The Federal Reserve System should be audited annually and the results of the audit should be made public in a timely manner. The Reserve should have an independent board of governors with production agriculture represented on the Board; and

12.2.    We oppose the Federal Reserve buying up United States government debt.

419 / Foreign Investment

1.             Foreign investment in U.S. assets is a concern. The impact of foreign investment in agriculture, banking, insurance and other business institutions in the United States should be monitored.

2.         Foreign ownership of utility companies and natural resource businesses, including agricultural land, should be limited to less than a controlling interest. We oppose preferential treatment of foreign investments in agriculture and insist that foreign investors be required to conform to the same tax laws, import and export regulations as American producers.

420 / Governmental Ownership of Property

1.             Government-owned enterprises which compete with private enterprise and government-owned properties which are not available for public use should be required to bear their equitable share of the cost of services provided by other governmental entities through payments in lieu of taxes. Those government-owned enterprises that could be privatized should be sold to the private sector as a means of providing more efficient service and cost reduction. Property owned by the U.S. government and no longer used for the purpose it was intended when acquired (especially if acquired through eminent domain) should be returned to the private sector as tax generating property for counties and states. The original owner should be offered first right of refusal.

2.         The General Services Administration (GSA) has established revised lease demands for all Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. Congress should require GSA to work with local counties to set reasonable standards for FSA and other related offices.

421 / Monopoly

1.             Monopoly power is a threat to our competitive enterprise system and the individual freedom of every American.

2.         Consolidation and the subsequent concentration within the U.S. agricultural sector is having adverse economic impacts on farmers and ranchers. Congress should review existing statutes, develop legislation where necessary and strengthen enforcement activities to ensure proposed agribusiness mergers and vertical integration arrangements do not hamper producers' access to inputs, markets, and transportation.

3.         We recommend the federal government look into the monopolistic practices of importers and domestic companies formulating fertilizer and nitrogen products.

4.         The following changes should be made to further protect the sellers of commodities from anti-competitive behavior:

4.1.      Department of Justice (DOJ) should ensure that proposed cooperative and/or vertical integration arrangements continue to maintain independent producers' access to markets;

4.2.      USDA should be given authority to review and provide recommendations to DOJ on agribusiness mergers and acquisitions;

4.3.      USDA should be empowered to investigate mergers, consolidation or concentration of agricultural input suppliers, processors and retailers for antitrust or anti-competitive activities;

4.4.      DOJ should investigate competitive markets and price discovery when purchasers of agricultural products and providers of resources to agricultural producers secure a 25 percent (or greater) share of its markets;

4.5.      DOJ should have broader regulatory authority to include regulation of anti-competitive monopsonistic business behavior to protect agricultural producers as well as consumers;

4.6.      Producers impacted by unfair marketing practices should be compensated when harmed by monopolistic practice;

4.7.      USDA and DOJ should jointly provide clarification of farmer cooperatives' rights to encourage the development of cooperatives and producer bargaining associations;

4.8.      USDA oversight of the Packers and Stockyards Act should be enhanced. Specifically, Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) investigations need to include more legal expertise within USDA to enhance their anti-competitive analysis on mergers;

4.9.      DOJ, GIPSA and other appropriate agencies should investigate any anti-competitive implications agribusiness mergers and/or acquisitions may cause. These investigations should consider regional monopolistic powers and abuses; and

4.10.    Individuals and companies who attempt to control commodity prices and agricultural production in violation of antitrust and monopoly laws should be swiftly prosecuted.

5.         The continued use and expansion of production contracts is appropriate as long as producers have equal input in the process of negotiating the contract and companies owning critical genetics do not obtain too much market power.

422 / World Bank and International Monetary Fund

1.             We support:

1.1.      A congressional review of the charter for the World Bank to determine if it is operating according to its original purpose of aiding economic development and reconstruction and in keeping with sound banking practices;

1.2.      A thorough congressional evaluation of the U.S. contribution to the capital stock of the World Bank with emphasis on taxpayer costs and effects on world poverty;

1.3.      World Bank loans consistent with interest rates that are internationally competitive so that the borrowers are not insulated from world markets for capital;

1.4.      A restructuring of loans to assure repayment of loans made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF); and

1.5.      The charter for IMF operating according to its original purpose of ensuring international liquidity and exchange rate convertibility to facilitate world trade and capital flows.

2.         We oppose World Bank loans to countries that would subsidize products for export that are in direct competition with the United States or that are in surplus.

TAXES 

435 / Federal Estate and Gift Taxes

1.             We support permanent repeal of federal estate taxes. Until permanent repeal is achieved, the exemption should be increased and indexed to inflation. If the exemption is lowered, agricultural land and capital assets should be excluded from estate taxes valuation, as long as they remain in production agriculture.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Full unlimited stepped-up basis at death must be included in any estate tax reform;

2.2.      The portability of the exemption between spouses;

2.3.      The annual federal gift tax exemption being increased and indexed for inflation;

2.4.      Farmland owners having the option of using market value or current use value to determine land value for tax estate purposes and there should be no limit to the amount that property value can be reduced to reflect its actual use; and

2.5.      Allowing valuation discounts for businesses.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Unreasonable and unfair IRS estate tax audits;

3.2.      Estate tax audits that rely solely on an IRS agent's opinion on the value of the agricultural estate but should rather be based on the opinions of licensed appraisers with agricultural experience;

3.3.      IRS special consensual liens on property or a surety bond that are designed to protect the interest of the government installment payments as allowed by section 6166 of the Internal Revenue Code. These liens inhibit the ability of farmers or ranchers to continue to borrow capital to run their businesses; and

3.4.      The sale of agricultural land preservation, environmental easements on farm estates and timbering of farmland triggering a recapture tax during the 10-year agricultural use period.

436 / Sales, Fuel and Excise Taxes

1.             Under the current tax system, sales taxes should be reserved to state and local governments.

2.         We support allowing the collection of sales taxes on Internet sales of consumer goods by out-of-state sellers.

3.         Federal excise taxes should be limited to nonessentials and only be used to generate revenue for dedicated uses and/or funds.

4.         Revenue from road fuel taxes should be dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund for highway construction and maintenance and not used for non-highway uses.

5.         Taxes on aircraft fuels should be used to improve aviation systems.

6.         We support offering a reduced excise tax rate for small distilleries similar to the rate structure for breweries.

7.         We believe:

7.1.      Fines for nonfarm use of tax-exempt dyed diesel fuel should be commensurate with the revenue lost from highway use taxes;

7.2.      Trucks mounted with farm equipment and/or farm trucks exempt from state vehicle registration as farm machinery should be allowed to use tax-exempt diesel fuel; and

7.3.      Electric and alternative fuel vehicles should pay state and federal road taxes.

8.         We oppose:

8.1.      Farm licensed vehicles having to file Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax;

8.2.      The sale of untaxed items by merchants on tribal land;

8.3.      Increases in the special occupational tax on wineries;

8.4.      A windfall profits tax on oil, gas and renewable energy;

8.5.      Pre-taxation of off road fuel and user fees for turbine-powered agricultural aircraft; and

8.6.      Any new or increased excise taxes. Excise taxes should not be paid on:

8.6.1.   Aircraft fuel used for agricultural purposes such as crop dusting;

8.6.2.   Used trucks that have been further manufactured;

8.6.3.   Commodity futures or options transactions;

8.6.4.   E-mail or other private package or courier service; 

8.6.5.   Any bank transaction or other financial transaction; and

8.6.6.   Biofuels and agricultural commodities.

437 / Social Security

1.             Action should be taken to preserve the integrity of Social Security for retirees and workers paying into the system.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Raising the normal retirement age as life expectancy increases and indexing to longevity;

2.2.      Giving all Americans a choice of retirement systems, government or private, which operate under the same deposit percentages and withdrawal age rules as social security;

2.3.      Allowing taxpayers to invest a portion of their social security taxes into personal retirement accounts that are owned by the individual and are transferable at death without affecting benefits for current or future recipients;

2.4.      Employers and employees sharing equally in the payment of Social Security taxes;

2.5.      Continuing the separate payroll deduction for Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes so that it is clearly identifiable;

2.6.      Placing collected social security taxes in a restricted interest bearing fund to be used only for social security programs;

2.7.      Excluding tax exempt income from the formula that determines the taxation of Social Security benefits;

2.8.      Returning any income tax collected on Social Security benefits to the Social Security Trust Fund;

2.9.      Basing benefits upon an individual's contributions to the system;

2.10.    Basing adjustments in Social Security benefits on the annual decrease or increase in average wage;

2.11.    The spouse or family of a deceased person being able to keep the social security payment for the month the person dies;

2.12.    Repealing the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision;

2.13.    Including both private and public sector workers, and members of Congress, in Social Security;

2.14.    Every individual having the right to participate in pension plans in addition to Social Security;

2.15.    Educating workers that Social Security benefits are not intended to satisfy all retirement income needs;

2.16.    A cap on Social Security benefits be instituted to match the current limit to contributions; and

2.17.    Reinstatement of the full federal tax deduction of Social Security and Medicare contributions.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      An increase in Social Security taxes;

3.2.      Exempting low income taxpayers from paying Social Security taxes;

3.3.      The earned income restriction;

3.4.      Means testing;

3.5.      Social Security payments to illegal aliens or to prison inmates who have no dependents; and

3.6.      The taxation of Social Security benefits.

438 / Tax Reform

1.             We support replacing the current federal income tax system with a fair and equitable tax system.

2.         The new tax code should encourage, not penalize, success and encourage savings, investment and entrepreneurship. It should be transparent, simple and require a minimum of personal information.

3.         Any replacement tax system should:

3.1.      Be fair to agricultural producers;

3.2.      We support and recommend IRS regulatory reforms that allow profits to be averaged over the same number of years as loss is calculated;

3.3.      Be implemented simultaneously with the elimination of all payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, the alternative minimum tax, the capital gains tax, estate tax and personal and corporate income taxes;

3.4.      Be revenue neutral;

3.5.      Prevent the federal government from levying an income tax;

3.6.      Be based on net, not gross, income;

3.7.      Not tax business-to-business transactions or services except for final consumption; and

3.8.      Require a two-thirds majority to impose new taxes, or to increase tax rates.

439 / Taxation

1.             Tax policy should be designed to encourage private initiative, domestic economic growth, equity and simplicity.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Income tax indexing;

2.2.      Reductions in all tax rates;

2.3.      Confidentiality of federal income tax returns;

2.4.      Creating pretax savings accounts as a risk management tool for farmers and ranchers including deferment of self-employment taxes;

2.5.      Allowing farmers and ranchers to average income over a five-year period and allowing share-based rental income to be eligible for income averaging;

2.6.      Allowing self-employment tax liability to be calculated by averaging self-employment income and losses similar to income tax averaging;

2.7.      Elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Until repealed, the threshold and deductions allowed should be increased;

2.8.      The same depreciation schedules for income taxes and the AMT;

2.9.      Elimination of the imputed interest rate;

2.10.    Reinstatement of investment tax credit;

2.11.    Elimination of income tax on government grants;

2.12.    Acceptance of canceled checks as documentation for deductible expenses or contributions;

2.13.    Seized real property being returned to the tax rolls as soon as possible;

2.14.    Taxing for-profit businesses operated by tax-exempt organizations;

2.15.    Tax credits for small business;

2.16.    Treatment of replacement hedges (i.e. exchanging cash positions with a futures contract) as ordinary income or loss;

2.17.    Eliminating income tax on reduced quota payments and state master settlement payments;

2.18.    Allowing corporations to deduct earnings distributed to stockholders as dividends;

2.19.    Keeping a deduction for charitable contributions;

2.20.    Tax incentives, such as exemptions for loan forgiveness programs, to encourage medical professionals and large animal veterinary practitioners to practice in rural areas; 

2.21.    Income tax assessments and income tax refunds having the same statute of limitations;

2.22.    Retaining section 199 or a similar domestic production deduction in the tax code; and

2.23.    Requiring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to notify each tax-exempt organization of its tax filing responsibilities.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Taxing interest income as it accrues;

3.2.      The use of agricultural land as a long-term, tax sheltered investment by pension and profit-sharing funds;

3.3.      Taxing the cash value buildup in life insurance;

3.4.      A value-added tax;

3.5.      Earned income credits for dependents who are not citizens and who do not live in the United States;

3.6.      IRS' Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program;

3.7.      Taxing health insurance premiums to fund health coverage for those who do not have insurance;

3.8.      Retroactive taxation; 

3.9.      Taxation by tribal governments of non-enrolled people within reservation boundaries without representation;

3.10.    Taxation on the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment program; and

3.11.    Form 1099 reporting requirements for veterinarian services.

4.         Self-Employment Taxes 

4.1.      We support:

4.1.1.   Classifying Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments as rental income not subject to Social Security tax;

4.1.2.   Exempting rental income from land rented to the owner's family farm corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC) or partnership from the self-employment tax; and

4.1.3.   Cutting the self-employment tax so that it equals the employee's share of employment taxes.

5.         Capital Gains Tax 

5.1.      We oppose any tax on capital gains. Until the capital gains tax is repealed, we support:

5.1.1.   Cutting the tax rate on capital gains;

5.1.2.   Indexing capital gains to inflation;

5.1.3.   An exclusion for the sale of agricultural land that remains in production;

5.1.4.   An exclusion for payments for farm land preservation easements and development rights;

5.1.5.   An exclusion for the transfer of a business, including farms, between parent and children;

5.1.6.   Allowing a taxpayer to defer taxes from the sale of property and machinery by investing the proceeds into a retirement account with taxes due at withdrawal;

5.1.7.   Eliminating the $3,000 limit on capital losses; and

5.1.8.   An exclusion for land taken through threat of/or by eminent domain.

6.         Depreciation, Expensing and Deductions 

6.1.      We support:

6.1.1.   A tax deduction of fair market value for agriculture products donated to charity; 

6.1.2.   Making permanent $500,000 of expenses to be deducted under Section 179 Small Business Expensing and indexing the amount for inflation;

6.1.3.   Annual expensing of preproduction expenditures;

6.1.4.   Treating costs incurred for major equipment repairs as an expense rather than a capital improvement;

6.1.5.   Accelerated depreciation using the same methods available to non-farm businesses;

6.1.6.   Allowing water storage reservoirs built for irrigation and the cost of land leveling for water conservation to be depreciated over a four-year period;

6.1.7.   Reforestation costs being treated as an expense in the year they are incurred;

6.1.8.   Raising the cap on the tax credit and shortening the amortization period for the cost for replanting of trees;

6.1.9.   A deduction for a portion of the home telephone bill used in the farm business;

6.1.10. A deduction for all state and local taxes;

6.1.11. A full year's depreciation for capital purchases made during the year;

6.1.12. A deduction for interest and depreciation when as a result of a divorce, farm assets must be purchased by the spouse remaining with the farm;

6.1.13. Written business employment agreements being accepted as proof of a valid employer/employee relationship with family members;

6.1.14. The continuation of the three-year depreciation schedule for race horses. We believe the term “placed in service” means when the horse begins training;

6.1.15. A deduction for business interest expense; and

6.1.16. Making 50 percent bonus depreciation permanent.

7.         Environmental Tax Issues 

7.1.      We support:

7.1.1.   Tax incentives that encourage farmers and ranchers to safeguard plant and animal species, conserve our natural resources and improve the quality of our air and water;

7.1.2.   A deduction for the full and fair value of a donated conservation easement or purchased development right;

7.1.3.   A revision to the federal tax code so that a conservation easement with a limited time (less than 99 years) is eligible for tax incentives;

7.1.4.   The same installment sales reporting for landowners who donate a term easement as those who donate a permanent easement;

7.1.5.   Federal tax revenue received from the sale of development rights being remitted to the state of origin for farmland protection programs;

7.1.6.   Exempting cost share benefits received from government mandated or government sponsored conservation practices;

7.1.7.   Tax incentives for wind power and renewable fuels that remain in place for at least ten years;

7.1.8.   Taxation of the Wetlands Reserve Program payments to be treated as ordinary income or capital gains at the discretion of the landowner; and

7.1.9.   Energy savings credits for homeowners who utilize biomass thermal energy.

7.2.      We oppose carbon emission related taxes or fees on horsepower of vehicles and equipment used for agricultural production.

8.         Financial Distress Tax Relief 

8.1.      We support casualty-loss tax treatment for timber destroyed by insects, diseases or natural disasters.

8.2.      We support an exclusion from capital gains taxes for forced asset sales due to disasters, bankruptcy, insolvency or serious financial stress, condemnation and indemnification.

8.3.      We support an income tax exclusion for:

8.3.1.   Proceeds from the sale of forced livestock sales due to disaster or condemnation provided replacement livestock is purchased in the next 10 years; and

8.3.2.   Federal farm payments related to weather disaster, reduced quota payments and state master settlement payments.

8.4.      We support deferring recognition of income for:

8.4.1.   Two years for proceeds from a forced livestock sale caused by government reduced grazing periods or permits;

8.4.2.   Up to 10 years for proceeds from forced liquidations due to disaster or eminent domain; and

8.4.3.   One year for crop insurance or indemnity payments.

8.5.      We oppose:

8.5.1.   The recapture of investment tax credit on agricultural property owned by a farmer who is declared to be insolvent; and

8.5.2.   Levying income taxes on taxpayers who are declared insolvent and sell property for less than the loan amount.

9.         Taxes on Savings 

9.1.      We support:

9.1.1.   Increasing the maximum allowance on individual IRAs and tax deferred retirement plans to $12,000 indexed for inflation;

9.1.2.   Eliminating the adjusted gross income limitation for deductible Individual Retirement Account contributions;

9.1.3.   Changing the Simplified Employee Pension-Individual Retirement Account contribution rules to allow employees to work up to 210 days and make up to $10,000 before they must be included in the same percentage of income as the owner contributes;

9.1.4.   Eliminating income taxes on the first $1,000 of interest income from savings accounts of individuals;

9.1.5.   Eliminating mandatory distribution from IRAs and other retirement plans; and

9.1.6.   Allowing penalty free transfers from IRAs to health savings accounts.

10.       Taxes on the Transfer of Property 

10.1.    We support:

10.1.1. Allowing farmers the unlimited deferral of taxes when exchanging farm property for farm property (Section 1031 exchanges);

10.1.2. Changing like-kind exchange rules so that the time allowed to identify exchange property is increased from 45 days to six months and, the time allowed to close on and receive property is increased from six months to one year;

10.1.3. Tax incentives for persons who sell or lease land, facilities, machinery, livestock or other assets to beginning farmers, and additional tax incentives for reduced rents; and

10.1.4. Installment sale reporting for all gains from the sale or exchange of farm properties.

11.       Tax Record Keeping Issues 

11.1.    We support:

11.1.1. The option of using cash accounting without restrictions;

11.1.2. Increasing the $150 Social Security and Medicare threshold to $2,500, eliminating the total farm payroll test, indexing the threshold, imposing a 24-day test for determining if wages are subject to tax, and exempting full-time students 18 years of age or younger from withholding;

11.1.3. Raising the minimum amount required to be reported on the 1099 form to $6,000 indexed for inflation;

11.1.4. Exempting forward contract sales by farmers from form 1099B filing requirements;

11.1.5. Granting corporations the same safe harbor from under-estimation penalties as individuals;

11.1.6. Setting the tax filing deadline for family farms or farm corporations, at 75 days after the close of their fiscal year without requiring estimated quarterly payments;

11.1.7. Not requiring taxpayers to maintain depreciation schedules for equipment that is no longer owned;

11.1.8. Exempting all plants from the uniform capitalization rules; 

11.1.9. An April 15 filing deadline for farmers requiring estimated tax payments; 

11.1.10.           A clear policy for implementing income tax filing procedures by H-2A workers who have left the United States and cannot file existing forms on time from their home country; and

11.1.11.           Acceptance of canceled checks as documentation for deductible expenses or contributions.

12.       Family Tax Issues 

12.1.    We support:

12.1.1. Allowing a 100 percent deduction for a person's health, dental, disability and long term care insurance premiums;

12.1.2. Allowing an adjustment to business income for premiums and non-reimbursable medical expenses. Eligibility should not be predicated on all employees being provided health insurance;

12.1.3. Children with income who are claimed as a dependent not having to pay taxes at their parent's rate;

12.1.4. A tax deduction for post-secondary education tuition;

12.1.5. Educational scholarships shall not be considered taxable income;

12.1.6. The elimination of the marriage penalty;

12.1.7. Child-care credits for the self-employed;

12.1.8. Increasing the personal exemption;

12.1.9. Limiting the Earned Income Tax Credit to the amount of income and employment taxes paid;

12.1.10.           Extending the Child Tax Credit from age 17 to 23 for dependent children who are full-time college students;

12.1.11.           Exempting the proceeds from the sale of business property from adjusted gross income caps for retirement purposes;

12.1.12.           Eliminating the adjusted gross income threshold for deducting medical expenses; and

12.1.13.           Expanding the tax credit for health savings accounts.

12.2.    We oppose the taxing of employees on provided health insurance benefits.

440 / Taxation of Cooperatives

1.             We support:

1.1.      Farmer cooperative income being taxed only once, either when earned by the cooperative or when received by the patron;

1.2.      Farmer cooperatives being given at least two years to adjust to a new interpretation of the tax status of cooperatives. Changes should not affect long-established practices nor apply retroactively;

1.3.      An exemption for income used by farm credit institutions to build required reserves because of a change and income not used for that purpose should be returned to cooperative members;

1.4.      Allowing producer-purchased companies that transition into cooperatives to have the same tax advantages as employee-purchased companies; and

1.5.      An investment tax credit for producers who purchase shares in value-added cooperatives.

2.         We oppose withholding taxes on patronage refunds.

USDA: PROGRAMS AND SERVICES 

455 / Agricultural Reports

1.             Confidentiality of government-collected individual producer data or records, including the names and addresses of participants, is important and should not be released to any government agency or any other entity. A privacy statement should be supplied stating that the information will not be released without written consent from the individual/customer/ client.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Changes in national and international crop reporting services that use improved technology and methodology as appropriate to provide more timely and accurate supply-demand information, including current planting intentions;

2.2.      The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) should continue to collect and publish county, state and national level data and statistics;

2.3.      USDA including agricultural imports from all countries in its crop reporting service in a timely manner;

2.4.      Releases and reports issued by USDA being scheduled to minimize the impact on other agricultural commodities;

2.5.      Funding to establish a national dry bean stocks report compiled by NASS;

2.6.      Regularly collecting and reporting of NASS data on the production and use of ethanol co-products used for livestock feed and the replacement percentage of corn exports with dried distillers grains;

2.7.      The Peanut Planting Acreage Report being released after the Farm Service Agency (FSA) deadline for planted peanuts has passed;

2.8.      The addition of another rice stocks reporting date of June 1;

2.9.      Implementation on an operational basis of the Large Area Crop Inventory Experiment technology to better track worldwide inventory of agricultural production;

2.10.    A greater international effort to improve global crop and livestock reporting;

2.11.    Prompt release of satellite and other sources of information on crop acreage and conditions such as production estimates, effects of weather and insect pressures around the world. The lack of such pertinent information from USDA results in wide swings in market prices which are costly to farmers;

2.12.    World production information, including U.S. data, should be reported in the same units of measurement;

2.13.    Development of budget expenses and recoveries that more clearly portray the net cost of farm programs to the U.S. government;

2.14.    Cooperation with NASS by producers to submit their best estimates on crop report questionnaires or to provide information to enumerators;

2.15.    The agriculture census being restricted to questions relative to farm acreage and livestock numbers. Reporting forms should be updated, simplified, and restricted to relevant personal information;

2.16.    Re-evaluating the definition of "farmer" for the purpose of the USDA Agricultural Census;

2.17.    The USDA Market News Service furnishing information on direct sales of slaughter and feeder cattle, sheep and hogs including the reporting of wholesale dressed beef, pork and lamb trade;

2.18.    USDA making a distinction between hair and wool sheep in their Annual Livestock Census;

2.19.    Annual production reports being reinstated for all fruit, vegetables and specialty crops;

2.20.    USDA including in its estimated gross agricultural income the fair rental value of farm homes and the value of home-grown produce consumed on the farm. We recommend that the NASS survey be audited periodically. These factors are not used in computing nonagricultural income. The same methods should be used in computing agricultural and nonagricultural gross income;

2.21.    The NASS survey being audited periodically;

2.22.    Appropriate action being taken if a processor incorrectly reports inventory to either NASS or Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and are found to be manipulating the market by incorrectly reporting inventory;

2.23.    The definitions of "agritourism enterprise" and agriculture tourism" for use in the Agriculture Census be as follows:

2.23.1. Agritourism enterprise refers to an enterprise as a working farm, ranch or agriculture plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates income for the owner; and

2.23.2. Agriculture tourism refers to the act of visiting a working farm or any agriculture, horticulture or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation that also adds to the economic viability of the state;

2.24.    FSA should be the primary crop reporting agency; 

2.25.    USDA's NASS valuation of Hawaii coffee crop as green bean; and

2.26.    Voluntary participation in all government agricultural surveys, including the USDA Agricultural Census.

456 / Commodity Promotion

1.             We recognize the right of producers to promote increased research, sales and consumption of the commodities they produce.

2.         State and federal governments should not cease funding research and promotion with the intent of allowing the farmer checkoff-funded programs to cover such costs.

3.         Commodity checkoff programs should meet the following criteria:

3.1.      Approval by producer referendum prior to implementation or change of a program;

3.2.      Referendum procedures to protect voting rights and the confidentiality of individual producers provide uniform voting procedures and encourage maximum participation by producers. The minimum voting age should be 18 years old;

3.3.      A referendum shall be held at any time upon petition of 10 percent comprising a representative sample of registered producers;

3.4.      Producers should control the board and the program. Members of the board should be contributors to the checkoff and not selected based on non-related criteria;

3.5.      Limitations so that funds are used only for promotion, market development and research. Grower educational programs should be limited to project information and financial statements;

3.6.      For programs that authorize refunds of assessments, the refunds should be distributed in a timely manner;

3.7.      Emphasize value-added benefits to producers and focus on higher net returns for farmers;

3.8.      Checkoff-funded research grants for end user products should have royalty or licensing agreements, where feasible, signed with the research institution;

3.9.      USDA should provide an annual report and strengthen oversight activities to assure producers that the funds are being used only for their intended purposes and not diverted to help finance state or national organizations whose major purpose is to provide legislative and regulatory services for members;

3.10.    Producer participation in checkoff referenda should be improved through all available means, including mail-in or electronic ballots;

3.11.    Imported commodities should be subject to promotional checkoffs on the same basis as domestic producers, including producers from Puerto Rico;

3.12.    Any commission or body created under an agricultural commodity promotion program should be required to provide complete accountability to its producers of the expenditure of funds collected from them, including funds released to any agricultural organization, public agency or private firm for promotion or research purposes;

3.13.    Transparency in checkoff programs and producers' confidence in these programs requires accountability between organizations charged by federal statute with fiduciary responsibility for checkoff funds and any national policy organizations; and

3.14.    We oppose a non-commodity-specific organic checkoff.

457 / Cooperative Extension Service

1.             The ultimate beneficiary of the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is the American consumer, who has been provided a plentiful supply of food and fiber.

2.         The CES should remain an agency within USDA and a part of the land grant colleges and universities with federal appropriations expended under cooperative agreements between USDA and each state. Federal and state funds should be used for the implementation of Extension programs as established under the cooperative agreements.

3.         We support:

3.1.      The basic philosophy of CES that programs, and program direction, should be decided by local participants in the program;

3.2.      New programs providing services to non-farm people provided they do not come at the expense of programs for farm and ranch families;

3.3.      CES devoting more time to farmers' needs and to the dissemination of research information to farmers. CES should initiate not only the dissemination of research but also a flow of possible impacts and needs from the farmer-rancher back to the researcher and to the public;

3.4.      Expansion of business management and career guidance programs through CES;

3.5.      An increase in funding and improving services;

3.6.      CES and USDA developing and publicizing a positive food safety program;

3.7.      The streamlining and consolidation of CES while maintaining support for youth; and

3.8.      Maintaining an agricultural focus for our 4-H programs.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      The federal government dictating direction through the earmarking of funds for specific federally directed non-farm programs;

4.2.      The repeal of the Hatch Act of 1887 and the movement of Hatch Act funds from the current system to a competitive grant system;

4.3.      The repeal of the Cooperative Forestry Research Act of 1962 and the movement of those funds to a competitive grant system. These funds are vital to maintain the infrastructure of ag research stations at land grant universities;

4.4.      Assignment of university extension faculty or staff to regulatory or law enforcement duties of any kind, believing such duties to constitute a conflict of interest, defeating both educational and regulatory purposes;

4.5.      Federal changes in funding mechanisms for nutrition programs used with CES; and

4.6.      Federal budget cuts affecting agricultural research and CES that are in excess of the overall percentage reduction in spending.

458 / Farm Service Agency Committees

1.             We support:

1.1.      The Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee system, and oppose its elimination;

1.2.      FSA committees consisting of farmers who receive a major part of their income as active producers of agricultural products; County FSA committees should remain solely farmer-elected;

1.3.      County FSA committees having more control over local situations and programs including providing USDA payments for conservation programs. County committees and the state FSA committee should assist Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in determining what programs are applicable and should be used;

1.4.      USDA's National Appeals Division being required to adjudicate cases using the same rules and regulations formulated by USDA which the FSA county and state committees are required to follow;

1.5.      County FSA committees having the right of appeal for determinations made at the county level that are rejected by the state;

1.6.      Criteria established to guide office closure decisions should be followed by a review committee;

1.7.      Each farmer or rancher affected by an FSA office closing having the right to choose to be serviced by the most convenient service center;

1.8.      Implementation of an online reporting process by FSA that is available to all producers regardless of their operational structure;

1.9.      The efficient delivery of farm programs and retention of county committee structures with all counties represented, even if the number of county FSA, NRCS and Rural Economic and Community Development offices is reduced. Whenever counties are combined, equal board member representation and reasonable travel distance should be ensured;

1.10.    Criminal prosecution of voting irregularities in FSA committee elections; and

1.11.    Designing computer-based service delivery systems to work with the wide skill level of producers and the wide variety of computer hardware, software and Internet providers available to farm producers.

2.         We oppose FSA asking farmers to sign any waiver that would exempt them from the "Finality Rule", which provides a 90-day period for FSA to review an application before disaster assistance determinations are final and binding.

459 / National Weather Service

1.             We support:

1.1.      Accurate, timely reporting of weather information and the maintenance and adequate funding of current weather analysis and information dissemination systems;

1.2.      Federal, state and private agencies working to improve these systems as well as the coordination of user support and federal funds to assure continuity and improvement;

1.3.      Federal funds to re-establish agricultural weather services within USDA;

1.4.      Concentration of efforts to advance weather forecasting techniques into areas which will benefit crop and agricultural management practices;

1.5.      Continuation of the National Weather Service information over standard AM, FM and television stations;

1.6.      An increase in the wattage used by the National Weather Service emergency broadcasts so that outlying areas may have better reception;

1.7.      Improvement of the Palmer Drought Index to address regional conditions;

1.8.      Determining drought as conditions meeting the U.S. Drought Monitor Index level D2 or above; and

1.9.      When possible, the National Weather Service contracting with private suppliers for Doppler radar service in underserved areas.

460 / Perishable Products

1.             The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) regulations should be amended to provide growers with more effective provisions for enforcing prompt pay.

2.         PACA should be amended to provide coverage of sod, perishable greenhouse products, ornamental plants, cut flowers and Christmas trees.

3.         We oppose any governmental agency delaying the marketing of perishable products for the purpose of collecting a penalty without having probable cause of a health risk.

461 / Research

1.             The food and agriculture research, extension and education system must support, build and maintain a critical mass of well-trained scientists in the public sector to ensure that the U.S. remains the leader in global agricultural production. An effective and efficient transfer of knowledge and technology for the benefit of agriculture producers and consumers worldwide must be maintained and remain a high priority in future budgets.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Ongoing efforts to elevate food, agricultural and natural resources research as a national priority, including partnering with a broad coalition of stakeholders to develop and deliver a unified message calling for moving agricultural research to the forefront of American science;

2.2.      Strengthening investments across the board in the U.S. food, agricultural and natural resources research portfolio, including competitive grants, federal and state capacity funding and additional public-private partnerships;

2.3.      A commitment for increased investment across all federal agencies with significant roles in addressing critical priorities in food, agriculture and natural resources through research;

2.4.      USDA research, extension and education programs that are initiated by partnerships between federal, state and local governments and carried out through universities and USDA. These programs should reflect and be tailored to the unique soil, environmental and socioeconomic makeup of regions, states and locales;

2.5.      Federal research and extension funding that assures regional and national interests are being addressed by state institutions in a cooperative, coordinated, cost-effective way and helps compensate individual states for the costs of programs that benefit other states, the nation, and the public. These funds should be allocated on the basis of scholarship and quality of science;

2.6.      More direct funding by National Institute of Food and Agriculture to land grant universities directed toward production agriculture research;

2.7.      Production research on efficient nutrient uptake, water usage and improved pest and disease resistance for crops and livestock;

2.8.      National and regional organizations patterned after the Council on Food and Agricultural Research that provide agricultural producers participation in priority setting, funding and accountability of the system;

2.9.      Managing federal and state funded research programs to support basic and applied research and technology transfer for the benefit of U.S. farmers, agribusiness and consumers;

2.10.    Public and/or private research that provide new information and technologies to meet soil, environmental and socioeconomic conditions and improves the economic viability in agriculture;

2.11.    Awarding some federal grants on a competitive basis. Criteria for awarding these grants should place priority on projects that meet objectives identified by agricultural producers. These efforts should be coordinated by federal and state institutions in cooperation with other agricultural interests;

2.12.    Increased Binational Agricultural Research and Development funding and securing other foreign investment in U.S. agriculture research to maximize cooperative research efforts by all who derive benefits from the outcome of such research;

2.13.    Federal investment in research that provides a mix of formula, competitive and special grants and reauthorization of the competitive research facilities program for land grant universities;

2.14.    A major capital program to provide state-of-the-art buildings, facilities and equipment for food and agriculture research, extension and education programs;

2.15.    Increased funding for the Food Genome Project;

2.16.    Maintaining viable, competitive regional agriculture research centers and efforts to reduce duplication in agriculture research activities;

2.17.    Efforts to maintain a modern, biosecure animal-based research center;

2.18.    Research that identifies the advantages and disadvantages of carbon credits as it relates to carbon sequestration with USDA serving as the lead agency on researching carbon sequestration;

2.19.    Funding for research and eradication measures to control the West Nile virus and related mosquito diseases;

2.20.    Funding a producer-directed, research-oriented specialty crop block grant program and the IR4 bio-pesticide research program for minor crops;

2.21.    Research funding for the control and/or eradication of regional insect pests;

2.22.    Federal appropriations for university policy centers, such as the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center to provide objective, unbiased agricultural policy analysis to Congress;

2.23.    The creation of a new type of charitable organization devoted to agricultural research with an IRS tax structure similar to the medical research organizations;

2.24.    Public, objective research and reporting of results without private company review, oversight or other influence; 

2.25.    Adequate funding for all federal formula-fund programs within the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture;

2.26.    Full funding for operations and research at the current U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, including continuous research on the effects of grazing and sage grouse habitat, and the relationship between wildfire and grazing;

2.27.    The continued operation of the United States Sheep Experiment Station as intended by the Presidential Designation of 1915; and

2.28.    The U.S. Forest Service providing funding to research, and then implement, genetic modification of the American Chestnut (Castanea denata) to be resistant to the fungal chestnut blight. Once resistance is attained, the American Chestnut should be reintroduced into the original range in the Eastern U.S.

462 / Role of USDA

1.             Agriculture should remain the primary responsibility of USDA. Food and fiber consumers will be better served by healthy, profitable production agriculture than by consumer advocacy within USDA.

2.         USDA should be an advocate for agriculture with emphasis on production agriculture and the processing and marketing of agricultural products and promoting the use of domestically produced food and fiber by all branches of the U.S. government and military services.

3.         Leadership at USDA should be vested in appointed people who are competent, have background and experience in agriculture and have evidenced a knowledge and concern for the welfare of agricultural producers.

4.         We support the secretary of agriculture and the U.S. trade representative being included in the National Security Council.

5.         We support long-term funding of the USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA).

6.         Review criteria for USDA office closure decisions should include miles driven between offices, workload, local input, and inter-agency efficiencies.

7.         USDA should be:

7.1.      A monitor of domestic and foreign agricultural affairs;

7.2.      An accurate source of agricultural data and research; and

7.3.      An agricultural policy adviser to other departments of the federal government;

8.         We support USDA programs that:

8.1.      Help farmers obtain needed crop and market information, research, educational assistance and credit;

8.2.      Provide workable grades and standards and safeguard product quality through inspection services;

8.3.      Help farmers eradicate or control plant and animal pests and diseases;

8.4.      Encourage conservation of land and water resources by maintaining land in private ownership. USDA programs should not be used to facilitate the transfer of private farms and ranches to public lands;

8.5.      Assure reliable, unfettered transportation for agricultural commodities;

8.6.      Strengthen farmers' power to bargain for a price; and

8.7.      Provide comparable services to administer all commodity programs.

9.         USDA should:

9.1.      Continue to be a full Cabinet-level department and shall not be renamed or consolidated with any other department or agency of government;

9.2.      Retain various food assistance and nutrition programs, both domestic and foreign;

9.3.      Use U.S. agricultural commodities for domestic food programs;

9.4.      Not limit or restrict USDA purchases due to the violation of immigration regulations;

9.5.      Limit importers from purchasing products from foreign countries and reselling them under the provision of Section 32;

9.6.      Extend the "Buy American" provision to other noncontiguous states or territories including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico;

9.7.      Continue the Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) program, the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program but farmers should not be assessed for funding of these type of programs;

9.8.      Use Farm Services Agency (FSA) data and assistance for premise ID registration;

9.9.      Use the land grant colleges for agriculture-oriented research;

9.10.    Continue efforts to resolve problems involving environmental and animal care issues;

9.11.    Maintain an efficient and cost-effective services delivery system, including electronic filing;

9.12.    Maintain FSA jurisdiction over the administration of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and cost-share programs;

9.13.    Change in FSA regulations to allow other forms of verification for production evidence;

9.14.    Not allow FSA to combine farm numbers without written permission from the farmer;

9.15.    Upgrade computer technology and appropriate software to allow the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), FSA, RMA, and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to utilize and share the same farm program enrollment information and production, provided appropriate privacy disclosures and safeguards are utilized;

9.16.    Encourage "one-stop shopping" All farm program agencies, where feasible, should be located in the same building;

9.17.    Appoint one or more farmers on any agriculturally related government board;

9.18.    Require federal agencies to keep all documentation of all historical field maps or aerial maps supporting determination and supply onsite documentation of new determination to farmers;

9.19.    Accredit and license commercial dog breeders;

9.20.    Further support the Foreign Agriculture Service;

9.21.    Make Beginning Farmer Program eligibility requirements consistent through all USDA agencies;

9.22.    Provide financial assistance through Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Agricultural Research Services (ARS) to maintain New York’s Golden Nematode Quarantine Facility and Research Program; and

9.23.    Allow for a System for Award Management (SAM) number to be valid for the length of the USDA project for the individual producer.

10.       We oppose:

10.1.    Requiring farm trusts to provide the total trust instrument because the individual's last will and testament should be confidential;

10.2.    Making FSA county executive directors and program assistants employees of the federal government;

10.3.    The transfer of any USDA program to another department or agency;

10.4.    Announcing crop estimates until certified acres are known; and

10.5.    The Department of Homeland Security or USDA-prescribed homeland security practices being mandated on farms unless such measures are completely funded.

11.       Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 

11.1.    NRCS should remain within USDA and provide technical assistance and education.  There should be no fees or charges to the land user for this service. Funding for conservation programs should be administered by FSA.

11.2.    The undersecretary of natural resources and the environment should be an effective advocate for agriculture on environmental issues.

11.3.    NRCS should:

11.3.1. Act as a non-regulatory mediator of environmental compliance issues with regulatory agencies, on behalf of producers;

11.3.2. Use funding only for agricultural purposes;

11.3.3. Place a high priority on providing quality, technical and scientific natural resources expertise;

11.3.4. Have adequate funds for technical assistance that are not tied directly to conservation programs; 

11.3.5. Ensure local farmer input on NRCS personnel decisions and direction of natural resource programs through conservation districts is maintained for the benefit of producers;

11.3.6. Accept state licenses as proof of qualifications, without further testing or requirements, to be a Technical Service Provider; 

11.3.7. Amend NRCS regulation to count perennial crops, such as orchards, vineyards or sod, as prior converted land when the crop is removed;

11.3.8. Inform landowners and tenants when NRCS officials are considering changing or altering wetland status on any portion of their holdings;

11.3.9. Honor wetland determinations made prior to 1990;

11.3.10.           Modify existing cost-share programs to allow for NRCS technical assistance in assessing the long-term availability of water resources and the planning and development of new on-farm water supplies and irrigation systems;

11.3.11.           Recognize regional seasonality of farm commodities when determining program sign-up dates; and

11.3.12.           Allow an accredited third party or NRCS staff to complete on-site determinations to ensure timely determinations.

11.4.    NRCS should not:

11.4.1. Become a regulatory agency, serve in a policing capacity or be combined through USDA reorganization with an agency that has regulatory functions;

11.4.2. Negotiate Memorandums of Agreement or Memorandums of Understanding with federal regulatory agencies that would give NRCS the power to develop, implement, or police those agencies' regulations on agricultural land; and

11.4.3. Require partnerships, limited liability corporations and other farm entities to register on the Standardized Award Management Service site.

463 / Rural Development

1.             We support the important work of USDA Rural Development to improve the quality of life and increase economic opportunity in rural America. We encourage the long-term funding of the grant, loan and loan guarantee programs administered by USDA Rural Development.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Legislation that encourages rural economic development and emphasizes value-added opportunities in agriculture;

2.2.      USDA administering community development, business, and economic development programs for rural communities;

2.3.      Increasing technical and marketing assistance funding for the USDA Community and Economic Development programs;

2.4.      The USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program issuing loan guarantees to farmer-owned projects sited in urban or urbanizing areas, if the locations will return economic benefits to the rural owners of the project;

2.5.      Increasing agricultural development funding through grants and low-interest loans equivalent to industrial development;

2.6.      Full funding for state rural development councils;

2.7.      Efforts that link retiring farmers with people seeking opportunities to enter agriculture or returning to rural communities;

2.8.      Stricter limits on participation in government programs that take land out of agricultural production due to negative economic impacts; and

2.9.      A moratorium on any new regulations on small business or agriculture.


464 / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

1.             SNAP should remain an integral part of USDA for budgeting and nutritional reasons. A public education effort should show the decreasing farmers' share of the USDA budget by itemizing the cost of each program.

2.         Congress should re-evaluate SNAP to determine the feasibility of an alternate system for dispensing SNAP benefits. More emphasis should be placed on evaluating applicants to be certain that only those who meet specific criteria qualify for the program. Public funds should not be used to commercially advertise SNAP benefits.

3.         Spending limits should be placed on the total expenditures for SNAP.

4.         We support:

4.1.      Puerto Rico residents being allowed to participate in SNAP with full obligations;

4.2.      Items purchased by SNAP benefits should be limited to the five basic food groups;

4.3.      Accounting changes to better track losses within SNAP and other federal food-dispensing programs;

4.4.      The use of a bar code system to screen items which may be purchased through the use of SNAP benefits, such as nutritionally acceptable foods outlined in the Women, Infants and Children's Program (WIC) authorized food list. This list should also include staple items which are unprocessed;

4.5.      Requiring college students who are recipients of food assistance to provide Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completed forms, to show financial need of assistance;

4.6.      Elimination of food assistance for full-time college students who have school meal plans, with no dependents;

4.7.      Increased verification of employment and wages;

4.8.      Increased verification of identity of recipients;

4.9.      Efforts to expand the purchases of fruits and vegetables;

4.10.    Elimination of carbonated beverages from food available in/under assistance programs and those non-fruit, vegetable and dairy beverages with bottle deposits;

4.11.    The use of SNAP for U.S. produced agricultural products when available;

4.12.    Requiring persons applying for SNAP benefits passing an approved drug test before granting approval. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident; 

4.13.    Efforts to increase Regional Food Banks' proportion of federal public aid funds for food and nutrition assistance programs; and

4.14.    An aggressive system of investigation and prosecution of Electronic Benefits Transfer card fraud.

5.         We oppose:

5.1.      New USDA regulations which require retailers to sell minimum percentages of items from the five major food groups in order to redeem SNAP benefits. Retailers, such as butchers and fruit/vegetable markets, should be exempt from this requirement; 

5.2.      The use of SNAP funds from being limited to locally-grown or organic production; and

5.3.      Utilizing SNAP funds for cash back purposes.