Republicans have so far focused their attacks on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package on the scope of things it would fund – like home health care – that aren’t traditionally thought of as infrastructure. But Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is also drawing attention to the $174 billion the president wants to spend to shift Americans into electric vehicles.
Grassley says he’ll be looking to Democrats like Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar to push to include blender pump incentives in the infrastructure package. “Now they’re in the majority, that puts some heat on them, obviously (Iowa Sen. Joni) Ernst and I aren’t going to let up,” Grassley told reporters.
Grassley says the funding for EV incentives and charging stations would far exceed the $15 billion earmarked for climate research and development, which includes biofuels, carbon capture and other initiatives.
By the way: Biden on Wednesday defended his expansive definition of infrastructure. “To automatically say that the only thing that's infrastructure is a highway, a bridge, whatever, that's just not rational. It really isn’t," he said.
Analysis: Ending stepped-up basis would bite
Proposals to eliminate the step-up in basis for inherited assets could have heirs of farmland facing significant tax bills, according to an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation and American Soybean Association. Based on the change in land values since 1997, heirs might have to pay capital gains taxes of more than $1,000 per acre in at least five states (California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa and New Jersey) according to the analysis.
With the step-up, inherited assets are taxed based on the value at the time of death rather than when the asset was originally acquired.
Keep in mind: A proposal by a group of Senate Democrats would eliminate the step-up in basis and tax at death any unrealized capital gains of more than $1 million.
By the way: Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., have re-introduced legislation that that would help protect family farms from having to pay estate taxes.
The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021 sharply increases the special use valuation that allows inherited land to be appraised as farmland rather than for its commercial development value. Families who use the special use valuation commit to continue operating their farm or ranch business for 10 years.
Administration urged to keep biotech animal reg at FDA
Thirteen advocacy groups, including animal welfare and environmental organizations, are calling on the Biden administration to keep the Food and Drug Administration in charge of regulating genetically engineered food animals.
The groups, including The Center for Food Safety, Animal Legal Defense Fund and Friends of the Earth, are making the appeal in letters to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
The groups want Vilsack to remove from USDA’s website a memorandum of understanding released in the final days of the Trump administration. Then-FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn refused to sign the MOU, saying FDA’s scientists are better qualified to assess the risks of GE-engineered animals.
“FDA scientists have demonstrated that they intend to take a fulsome approach to reviewing GE animals,” the groups said in their letters.
Livestock industry groups say that FDA’s regulatory process is keeping critical new traits, such as disease resistance, from getting to market.
Keep in mind: USDA recently asked for comments on the issue until May 7.
FAS expects Brazil to plant. produce more soybeans
Brazil’s just wrapping up a slightly delayed soybean harvest that’s expected to produce 134 million metric tons of the oilseed and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is now predicting the South American powerhouse will plant and harvest more next time around.
Brazilian farmers are expected to go back into the fields later this year and plant about 99 million acres of soybeans, up from the roughly 95 million acres they planted last year. Those added acres are seen pushing Brazilian production next year to 141 million tons.
“Soybean expansion is forecast on current market conditions and trends – including strong demand, high prices, and a favorable exchange rate,” said the FAS analysts in Brasilia. “All these conditions are expected to persist well into the 2021-22 season.”
ITC holds public hearing today on Mexican cucumbers and squash
The U.S. International Trade Commission is looking into the effects that Mexican exports of cucumbers and squash have on U.S. farmers and the agency is scheduled to hold a hearing today to gather public input
Then-U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asked for the investigations in December after complaints from U.S. farmers and lawmakers that the Mexican exports are rising fast and hurting U.S. producers.
Reps. Austin Scott, R-Ga., Darren Soto, D-Fla., and 28 other southern lawmakers sent a letter to ITC leaders this week, stressing their support for the investigations, stressing their belief that action needs to be taken to protect U.S. farmers.
“Seasonal cucumber and squash imports from Mexico continue to dramatically impact U.S. markets and threaten the future of domestic farm production of perishable produce,” the lawmakers wrote. “Market changes occur quickly and can devastate a grower’s season in a matter of days if imports increase and the resulting price decreases coincide with harvest.”
Whole Foods launches new ‘Sourced for Good’ program
Whole Foods has started a new program to promote socially responsible sourcing of its foods.
The Sourced for Good initiative will provide “tangible improvements in farmworkers’ lives, strengthening worker communities where products are sourced and promoting environmental stewardship where crops are grown,” the grocery retailer said.
The program includes products "certified by internationally recognized third parties such as Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade America, Fair Food Program and Equitable Food Initiative," Whole Foods said.
He said it. “I gotta see how much I’m actually going to tell about what I know.” – Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, who says he’s writing a book about his career.
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