Missouri Farm Bureau delegates are gathering at the Lake of the Ozarks this week to set a lobbying agenda for the coming year. Farmers are hoping the looming fiscal cliff will push congress to pass a five-year farm bill.
Blake Hurst is president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, and he sounds kind of exhausted when talking about a farm bill that’s stalled out in the House Agriculture committee.
He says if lawmakers really want to slam the brakes before rolling off fiscal cliff, the farm bill is a pretty good place to start.
“Both the House and the Senate version save somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion. Seems to me that it would make a lot of sense to include the Farm Bill in that fiscal cliff negotiation because it saves money,” says Hurst.
He says increasingly valuable land and expensive equipment would be hard for farmers to pass on to their children if the current estate tax rate and exemption isn’t kept in place.
“If nothing is done between now and the end of the year farmers will be faced with both an estate tax exemption and a rate that will make it almost impossible for one generation to pass the family farm on to the next,” notes Hurst.
Hurst says there needs to be clear farm policy before putting next summer’s crop in the ground.
The farm bill is a sprawling piece of legislation that includes five-year funding levels for everything from nutrition assistance programs to federal crop insurance.