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D.C. Politics: From The Farm Bill, To Fiscal Cliff, To The Estate Tax

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This week’s poll asks what political issues are most concerning to you. Weigh in on today’s blog.

With the Democrats in control of the Senate and the Republicans having a stronghold in the House of Representatives, we likely can expect a gridlock on most issues that will arise in the next two years. But how much damage can Congress do if they can’t agree on anything, right?

Unfortunately for agriculture, when it comes to Washington, D.C. politicians, there is a lot on the horizon that could negatively impact farmers and ranchers.

WTVY.com reports that “fiscal cliff,” budget and farm bill talks have resumed this week in Washington, D.C. “A farm bill that stalled in Congress before the election could see quick action by the end of the year if congressional leaders decide they need its spending cuts to make a deal for averting the fiscal cliff.

“The farm bill passed by the Senate in June would save $23 billion over 10 years, while a version passed by the House Agriculture Committee in July would save $35 billion. The savings come from cuts to farm subsidies and food stamp programs.

“That pot of money could be useful to lawmakers who will be scrambling in the year's final weeks to address the combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts due in January -- dubbed the fiscal cliff because the combination could plunge the economy into another recession.”

A Closer Look: What Obama Win Means For Agriculture 

This week’s poll on the beefmagazine.com homepage asks, “What political issues concern you the most?”

With 95 votes in so far, readers could select two of the five concerns listed. The biggest concern is the upcoming fiscal cliff with 41% of the votes, followed by expanded regulations that would be harmful to agriculture and estate tax changes with 35% of the votes. Another 25% are worried about federal tax increases, and 19% say passing the farm bill is a big priority.

Vote in the poll here.

What issues are most concerning to you and why? Which item will most impact your farm or ranch? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Al in Ne (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2012

If I die on Jan.1, 2013 the federal estate tax will take over half of my estate, we must get that changed for ag's sake and for my grandchildren.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2012

Who is going to feed our future generations when inheritance taxes force the family run ranch and farm out of exsistance to fund more welfare?

D. A. (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2012

The fiscal cliff is ultimately one current product of industrial economics that began in 1911, as World War I was ramping up, favoring manufacturing while leaving agriculture in peril. That was the year when farming stopped being agriculture and people started trying to treat the land as they would treat a factory or manufacturing industry. For the next hundred years, young people left farms in droves to work for wages for Henry Ford and others like him in cities. As the “war to end all wars” ended, leftover chemicals from bomb manufacturing replaced most natural fertilizer on farms. Subsequent overproduction led to an agricultural recession that began in 1920 and lasted for two decades. As the Great Depression began in the 1930s, farm people who were able to keep their farms were better able to survive than their city neighbors, because families still remembered how to feed themselves from their land. Then came the Dust Bowl years, spurring government efforts to stop wholesale erosion of America’s farmland. Hot on the heels of depression and weather catastrophes came World War II, followed by the so-called “Green Revolution,” which saw cheap and convenient artificial fertilizers take over agricultural land in every developed nation. Chemical fertilizer use rose from 1.8 million tons to nearly 50 million tons in the span of a century. Crop yields per acre leaped. Food became commodities, and—in this country, at least—grew cheaper and cheaper in relation to family income. During the Nixon administration, food became a weapon. Overproduction under the programs of Earl Butz wiped out another generation of farmers in the 1980s. Prices fell in relation to costs for two decades. Production increased, becoming more and more mechanized as fewer and fewer farmers cleared and farmed more and more acres, further compromising climate stability. Less than one percent of USA population lives on farms, with fewer farmers who know how to feed themselves or farm without subsidies. Ag-related workers went from 40% of the work force in 1900 to about 2% in 2000. Putting more farm families back on the land could take care of unemployment problems. If Ayn Rand’s philosophies continue to dominate conversation in our legislature, that’s not likely to happen.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 14, 2012

Really?? You need a dose of reality. Spend a year on a real farm.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2012

D.A.......so many words without really making any point other than you seem to be saying that "Little House On The Prairie" needs to be brought back as a model for science based and highly efficient modern agriculture. It's well past the era of "40 acres and a mule" policy for today's ag. (Unless you are hobby farming in retirement)

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2012

"Industrial economics" did not begin in 1911. It began 100 years before when the "American System of Manufactures" began to take hold as it demonstrated the gains in productivity in producing goods compared to the old European guild system. It's was a system developed from innovation and ingenuity and not some plot by evil intentioned conspirators.

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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