Last week the United State Congress passed a 9-month 2008 Farm Bill extension imbedded in the legislation to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler says that while not a long-term solution, it's at least something for producers to work with this year. As president of the Southern Association of Department's of Agriculture, Troxler says that work wil be going on behind the scenes to get a permanent farm bill passed, if in fact, a 'farm bill' is passed at all. There has been talk about doing away with the farm bill altogether since it really doesn't have much to do with farming any longer.
But, one thing that Troxler is relieved to see resolved is the estate tax situation. Troxler's fears were that if no legislation was passed raising the limites on the estate tax that more North Carolina farm land would have been lost in order for families to pay inheritance tax bills.
“The Farm bill extension can’t last forever. We are disappointed that we didn’t get a farm bill but also at least we have a direction and we have policy. Quite frankly the worst thing that can happen to any business is indecision, so at least it’s a help.
I don’t exactly understand Washington’s reasoning behind all of this, we were having the fiscal cliff discussion at the same time there were savings in this farm bill that could have counted. So I don’t understand it but it is what it is.
I was reading a copy of the 1911 Progressive Farmer, it said that if people will put off until tomorrow what they can do today and if they spend tomorrow’s wages today, it’s the slipperiest slope that any mortal could ever go down. Maybe we need to send this edition to the folks in Washington.
A bill before the 9 month extension is over is certainly something we are going to work on. As the President of the National Association of Departments of Agriculture, I can guarantee you we are going to everything we can to get a permanent farm bill done. But on the flip side, I have read that they were saying this could be the last permanent farm bill that we had but we still don’t have one- so will we have a farm bill or not I don’t know. Will they do it with pieces of legislation? That remains to be seen.
The truth is the bill is misnamed to start with. It’s not about the farms and agricultural policy as much as it is about feeding programs and those kinds of things.
There are 37 different programs that did not have baseline funding and they will not be funded under this extension but we did at least get the funding for the market access program and the specialty block grant programs funded. The one that was not funded was specialty crop research and with the specialty crop explosion we have seen in NC we certainly would like to see that funded.
On the estate tax, I think everyone was scared to death that they wouldn’t do anything with the estate tax which would have meant we would have seen a big loss of farmland because it would have been had to be sold off to pay for the inheritance tax. NC’s track record from 1970 to now, we have already lost 6.6 million acers of farmland, we don’t need to speed that up.”