There’s nothing quite like the fresh start of a new year to charge forward in getting work done. After all the holiday decorations are put away and the college bowl games have wrapped up, many of us start making our resolutions for the year ahead. Just like with any big task, it’s important to get started right away—or the work may never get done. That’s why when it comes to our policy resolutions and priorities, Farm Bureau is calling on Congress to get right to work this January for agriculture and our nation’s food supply.
Top of our resolutions list for Congress is a new farm bill in 2024. While we are certainly grateful for the extension of the 2018 farm bill, that is a temporary fix, and we cannot afford further delays in getting an updated farm bill that addresses the needs of farmers and ranchers across the country. The farm bill matters well beyond the farm. From food security to sustainability to nutrition programs—this is a critical piece of legislation for the nation as a whole. Farm Bureau has been working across our organization, the agriculture sector and along the food supply chain, and with leaders in Congress to deliver a farm bill, and we’ll build on that work to ensure our farmer and rancher members have the tools they need not just for this year, but for years to come.
I have confidence in our ability to come together, share different viewpoints and find a way forward.
Just as critical in protecting our nation’s food supply is addressing the agricultural workforce shortage and unsustainable wage rate hikes. For some farm families, the start of a new year means tough choices about whether their businesses can survive the rising cost of labor—and that is if they can even find labor. We have reached a crisis point when it comes to reforming our guest worker visa program in a way that works for all types of agriculture in all regions of our country. Will it be easy to find a solution? No, but it can be done, and it must be done. Farmers care about our employees and we understand better than anyone the skills and hard work that the jobs on our farms take. We need a manageable, accessible, and sustainable guest worker program that allows us to keep providing jobs on our farms at competitive wages, as we work alongside our employees to keep our nation’s food supply secure and sustainable.
Another issue that we’re resolved to see addressed for family farm and ranch businesses is tax reform. The estate tax is a burden that has been looming over farm families for far too long. While we have seen helpful exemptions for farms, ranches, and other small businesses, those exemptions always have expiration dates. We expect to see a bill introduced in the House of Representatives this month to bury the estate tax once and for all for family businesses. This way, farm families can be free to plan for the future, and the next generation can return to the farm without fear of having to sell off land—or close operations completely—to pay off estate taxes.
Additionally, Congress needs to turn its attention to the looming expiration at the end of 2025 of the many tax reforms that benefited the small business community, farms and ranches included. The Section 199A Small Business Income Deduction and 100% Bonus Depreciation are critical tax provisions to the yearly operations of family businesses and should be made permanent like the corporate provisions were in 2017.
While these are just a few of our priorities that we’re resolved to work with lawmakers on this year, it’s far from our whole list. In this new year, we’re resolved to see USDA complete its steps to reform the dairy marketing system. We’re resolved to work with the administration to expand trade opportunities for agriculture. We’re resolved to keep defending your farms and ranches from burdensome and overreaching regulations. And we’re resolved to continue working across the agriculture and food supply chains to boost the sustainability and resilience of our food, fiber and fuel supplies.
This may seem like an ambitious list, but I have confidence in the strength of our grassroots. I have confidence in our ability to come together, share different viewpoints and find a way forward. And like my dad used to say every morning on the dairy farm, if we don’t start now, we never will.