Farm groups are stepping up the pressure on Congress to reject President Joe Biden’s proposals for increasing taxes on capital gains. More than 40 organizations have signed a letter to congressional leaders, saying the proposals threaten the transition to a new generation of farmers.
The letter contends eliminating stepped-up basis on inherited assets could lead to unintended consequences, including limiting the availability of land for new farmers.
Biden has called for taxing appreciated gains at death, and he also wants to raise the top capital gains rate and sharply limit the use of like-kind exchanges to defer taxes on land.

Keep in mind: The tax proposals are more than revenue raisers. Biden says they’re needed to reduce economic inequality, which will be the focus of aHouse Ways and Means hearing today.
For more on the issue of like-kind exchanges, read the weekly Agri-Pulse newsletter. We also have the latest on ASF in China and a look at what Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps might mean for ag.

Lawmakers probe ag needs on climate
A pair of hearings on Capitol Hill should shine some light on how well federal research and conservation programs are helping farmers meet the demands of climate change.
A House Agriculture subcommittee is holding a hearing focused on conservation programs, while the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will be questioning senior USDA officials about the department’s research programs.
The House Ag hearing comes as many lawmakers are trying to use an upcoming climate and infrastructure package to substantially increase funding for conservation programs. The witnesses at today’s hearing will include Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau.
At the Appropriations hearing, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine., will be among the subcommittee members seeking to find out what the department will do to expand the use of climate-smart practices.

 Ambassador Hillman

Canada rejects idea of US resurrecting COOL
Kristen Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said the country would firmly oppose any new proposals from the U.S. to resurrect mandatory country-of-origin labeling – COOL for short – for beef and pork.
“We went through this in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and we are very firmly of the view that mandatory country of origin labeling is inappropriate,” Hillman said during a Washington Ag Roundtable webinar Tuesday. “That’s an issue that has been fully litigated and I wouldn’t want to see us go back to that.”
Canada and Mexico challenged the U.S. labeling law and won at the World Trade Organization. The U.S. appealed and lost before repealing it under threat of $1.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on a wide list of U.S. products such as wine, potatoes, apples, cherries, orange juice and cheese.

China corn-buying spree continues
Tuesday marked the third straight business day USDA has announced sizable Chinese purchases of U.S. corn for delivery in the 2021-22 marketing year, adding new weight to the view from U.S. industry officials that China’s demand remains strong.
USDA on Tuesday reported an export sale of680,000 metric tons of new crop U.S. corn to China. That follows daily announcements for sales of1.02 million tons on Mondayand1.36 million tons on Friday.
 “The demand is there in China and they want to ensure they have the supply,” Lesly McNitt, director of public policy and trade for the National Corn Growers Association, toldAgri-Pulse after the Monday sale. “The signals out of Brazil suggest that supply is going to tighten, so that could continue to impact price.”

Biden pushes states on hazard pay
The Biden administration is urging states to use some of the $350 billion in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to provide hazard pay for essential workers, including those in food production.
“Workers at farms, food production facilities, grocery stores, and restaurants” are eligible for higher pay under the legislation, according to a rule being issued by the Treasury Department. The department notes many essential workers are people of color or low-wage workers.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union lauded the administration for stressing that hazard pay “should be (1) prioritized for essential workers, (2) the premium pay can and should be retroactive, (3) the premium pay is intended for a broad range of essential workers including grocery, meatpacking, and healthcare workers, and (4) can be employer-provided.”

Citing pipeline, ethanol industry urges EPA action
The ethanol industry says EPA could help alleviate gasoline shortages on the East Coast by easing requirements that limit the use of E15. The Colonial pipeline that transports gasoline from Texas to the Northeast was shut down Friday after a cyber-attack.
Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, saidin a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Reganthat 180,000 barrels per day of idling ethanol could help fill the gap in gasoline supplies.

By the way: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday that the pipeline should be “substantially operational” by the end of the week.

New crop estimates released today
The monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates due out today from USDA should provide a better picture of new crop production expectations for this growing season.
Allendale’s Mike Lung tellsAgri-Pulsetraders are still convinced farmers will plant more corn this year than the 91.1 million acres USDA estimated in the March Prospective Plantings report. Traders estimated that number would be closer to 92.3 million acres.
University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin says he’s watching to see the WASDE estimate for Brazilian corn production and whether it falls below 100 million metric tons.

He said it. “We face a complex challenge – how to sustainably feed a growing population, while slowing and ultimately reversing greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental degradation, and building back better. To be effective, our approaches need to be innovative, as innovative as our farmers, and as dynamic as the shifting context in which they operate.” – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, addressing a global food security forum sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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