Senate Republicans have forced Democrats to go on the record as protecting existing tax benefits when it comes to transferring farm assets from one generation to the next.
President Biden has proposed to start taxing capital gains at death, which would effectively nullify the benefit of stepped-up basis. But during debate Tuesday on Democrats’ fiscal 2022 budget resolution, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., forced a vote on an amendment that called for “preserving” current tax rules for transferring farms and businesses, including the “full benefit of the step-up in basis for assets acquired from a decedent.”
The amendment, which is non-binding, was adopted on a 99-0 vote.
Keep in mind: The budget resolution is the first step Democrats must take to pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that they plan to fund in part with tax increases on capital gains. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee will be writing the tax provisions to be included in the reconciliation measure.
Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, who’s a member of the Finance Committee, said ahead of the Senate debate Tuesday: “I support family farmers as does my caucus, and so … we’re not interested in any way penalizing family-owned farms.”
Biden’s proposal would allow producers to defer the tax liability on inherited assets as long as the farms stay in operation.
For more on the budget resolution, read our weekly Agri-Pulse newsletter. We also report on how many ag PACs reduced their contributions so far this year. 

Ag groups welcome infrastructure win
The bipartisan infrastructure bill is now in the hands of the House after the Senate passed the legislation 69-30 on Tuesday. However, House Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., insists that she won’t allow a vote on the measure until the Senate passes the reconciliation measure.
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, says the bill would “clearly enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.”
The bill includes $550 billion in new spending, including $110 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband, $17 billion for ports and waterways and $8.3 billion for Western water needs.
“The pressing infrastructure issues facing our nation are too important to ignore, particularly in rural communities where modernization is desperately needed,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
Lawmaker aims for quick passage of shipping reform
There is so much bipartisan support for legislation to protect U.S. exporters from shipping abuses that Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., says he doesn't expect any major obstacles to getting it enacted into law. One possible legislative vehicle for his Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 will be reauthorization of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Garamendi, who introduced the bill Tuesday with Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., pointed to a recent letter sent by more than 100 Democrats and Republicans to the Federal Maritime Commission, expressing concern about ships returning to China with empty containers instead of packed with U.S. rice, pork, almonds or wine.
The bill would stop shipping companies from denying U.S. exporters the ability to get their commodities into containers and on overseas vessels as well as protect against excessive port fees.
More USTR nominations, but not for chief ag negotiator
President Biden on Tuesday announced his picks for two more deputies at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, but neither for the position of top agriculture negotiator, a position U.S. ag groups are urging him to fill.
María Pagán was named to deputy for World Trade Organization affairs in Geneva and Christopher Wilson was chosen to be the agency’s chief innovation and intellectual property negotiator.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told Agri-Pulse in a recent interview that she is working to get the ag trade position filled “as soon as possible.”
Livestock price reporting likely to get short-term extension
The upcoming expiration of the price reporting law for livestock is expected to be met with another short-term extension rather than a five-year reauthorization, industry officials said Tuesday in Nashville.
The issue has been top of mind for several organizations and members of Congress, especially given the recent price volatility in the beef packing sector. But speaking at the Cattle Industry Convention Tuesday in Nashville, Tanner Beymer – a lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association – said the likelihood of a five-year reauthorization is “pretty much slim to none.”
“It’s not a high priority for folks in the Senate right now in particular just because they have such a full calendar to get through the end of the year,” Beymer told members of the organization’s Live Cattle Marketing Committee.
Beymer expects Congress to issue a one-year extension.
Court upholds Roundup verdict against Monsanto

A California state court has upheld an $87 million verdict against Monsanto to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup herbicide.
The 1st District Court of Appeals found Monday that the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act did not pre-empt the Pilliods’ state-law claims of negligence, design defect and failure to warn.
“The evidence shows Monsanto’s intransigent unwillingness to inform the public about the carcinogenic dangers of a product it made abundantly available at hardware stores and garden shops across the country,” the court said in its 2-1 opinion.
Company response: Bayer, which acquired Monsanto, said in a statement that it "respectfully” disagreed with the ruling, saying the verdict “is not supported by the evidence at trial or the law. Monsanto will consider its legal options in this case.”
Pesticide handlers must comply again with respirator regs 
With more safety equipment available than during the worst of the pandemic in 2020, the EPA has lifted temporary guidance issued a year ago that allowed pesticide handlers to use respirators that were beyond their recommended service life.
EPA said the decision aligns with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “that entities should no longer use crisis capacity strategies for respirators and should promptly resume conventional practices.”
Canadian Pacific ups bid for KC Southern to $31B
The high-stakes bidding war over the Kansas City Southern railroad has taken a new turn with Canadian Pacific raising its bid to $31 billion.  According to CP, the proposed offer values KCS at $300 per share, representing a 34% premium. Canadian National has an offer on the table worth $33.6 billion.
“The KCS board of directors will evaluate CP’s proposal in accordance with the terms of KCS’ merger agreement with CN, and will respond in due course,” KCS said.
They said it. "Today's kind of a good news, bad news day.” - Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, referring to the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, followed by debate on Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the plan would “right size the tax code for the majority of Americans, cut their taxes, cut their costs and create more jobs.”

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