Policy briefs: July 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
Posted by: Aaron Stauffacher, associate dir. of govt. affairs
Farm bill discussions: House and Senate Agriculture committees continue to gear up to write the next farm bill, due in September 2018. House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conway is committed to protecting the farm bill from massive spending cuts, but the Congressional Budget Office indicated that the bill would have about $130 billion less in funding than the current bill. Therefore, the committees are exploring several options on how to fix the Margin Protection Program. Recent reports indicate the feed formula fix could cost as much as $2 billion, which could be a tall order as the House Freedom Caucus is pushing for spending cuts.
Immigration reform: Several bills exist in both the House and Senate to start to address our immigrant labor workforce concerns. However, these bills still lie in committee as Congress continues to work its way through several other top concerns. Rep. Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is expected to release another bill in the coming weeks.
NAFTA renegotiation: In May, the Trump administration formally began the process to renegotiate NAFTA. A letter to Congress started a 90-day waiting period before U.S. negotiators can begin talks with officials from Canada and Mexico. DBMMC submitted comments on priorities for the renegotiation, highlighting first a “do no harm” approach to existing markets because our NAFTA counterparts import about 40 percent of total U.S. dairy exports. DBMMC also emphasized the need for additional Canadian market access as well as updated Technical Barriers to Trade language for increased transparency and fairness to protect against possible non-tariff market barriers. Ag was well represented at recent U.S. Trade Representative hearings as the administration continues to set priorities.
Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act: Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Tom Reed, R-NY, have introduced bipartisan legislation to make biogas and manure resource technologies more affordable for dairy farmers. The bill modifies the federal tax code to make these technologies eligible for the existing 30 percent investment tax credit to cover capital costs. These systems would join fuel cell, solar, wind and geothermal projects that are covered by the credit. The bill is gaining support in the House at a time when leaders are committed to more comprehensive tax reform.