'Modern agriculture' seeks renewal of tariff reduction bill

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2013 - A coalition of 18 agricultural groups is urging Congress to renew legislation that would reduce import tariffs on crop inputs.

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In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, the groups said “American farmers and ranchers stand to lose the most if no action is taken” on the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). Certain import tariffs, they said, are “counterproductive to modern agriculture.”

The MTB is a collection of hundreds of individual pieces of legislation that temporarily lowers taxes on imported resources and materials and it must be renewed every two or three years.

The previous MTB expired Jan 1, 2013. The agriculture groups sent the letter as members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees consult on MTB and other trade bills that are expected to move early next year.

The groups - including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and CropLife America - estimate that half of the MTB package is targeted toward agricultural products.

“Tariffs on pesticide feedstocks, active ingredients or final products imported for our use add undesirable costs,” the groups said. In turn, this can end up reducing industry research and efforts to develop new products, they said. 

Intermediate chemicals used in crop protection products are often found in plants grown outside the U.S. Also, American companies can import active ingredients owned by foreign companies to develop products domestically.

“We support efforts by the crop input industry to provide us with continuously improved pest-control tools at affordable prices,” the letter states. “Reduction of import tariffs on their pesticides, active ingredients, and intermediate chemicals is an important aspect of congressional support of modern agriculture.”

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