The No. 1 priority for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) vice president of government affairs Colin Woodall is getting the death tax repealed.
“If we don’t, we go back to the $1 million level and that’s going to kill everyone in agriculture,” he said, at the 2012 NCBA convention in Nashville, Tenn.
“Most folks know that it doesn’t take a very big operation to have assets in excess of $1 million dollars and anything over that will be taxed at 55%. And that’s a lot of cash that people have to come up with if they lose a loved one. We know that one of the biggest barriers to passing down these multi-generational farms is the death tax. That’s why it’s our No. 1 priority. Unfortunately we are not going to see any action on it until the lame duck session,” he says.
Voices heard on child labor law.
A win for the agriculture industry came during the convention, as the U.S. Department of Labor announced that they would revise the proposed child labor law. “We had a tremendous number of comments submitted from our membership and from all of agriculture,” Woodall says. “One of the biggest things is a lot of times you don’t see members of Congress actually engage in comment periods, but in this, there were members of the House and Senate that did. Our message right now is that the Department of Labor heard us loud and clear that we don’t need it, so instead of re-proposing, we just need to pull it back completely.”
Environmental issues continue.
Regional environmental decisions concerning nutrient loads on the Chesapeake Bay and other state watersheds, such as Florida, will be key in how the agriculture industry works with the Environmental Protection Agency in the future. “Even though these are regional issues now, if [EPA] is successful, it will set precedent for all of the other watersheds,” Woodall says.
Budgets may affect U.S. trade.
One presidential request could have a negative impact on all U.S. trade activity. Across the board, the president and the administration have been looking at many ways to reduce costs, from USDA to the Pentagon.
“One of the proposals that really concern us, is [President Obama] has proposed to move the United State Trade Representatives (USTR) under the Department of Commerce. The USTR, as it is right now, is a very lean and efficient federal agency. They don’t have a whole lot of extra staff and the reason why is that you have to be able to move fast to engage in international trade issues,” Woodall said.
“More importantly, if they move the department to the Department of Commerce, they will be under several layers of bureaucracy. Right now, they report directly to the president which allows them to make fast, speedy decisions. If we do anything that slows down our ability to engage, that’s going to hurt us overall in trade negotiations and what we are trying to do in getting more beef export access. We’ll be working to get Congress to not approve that, and keep USTR as a separate entity,” he said.