Members of Congress are currently on summer recess and many of the folks that represent us in the nation's capital are up for re-election in November. National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett says that means it's the perfect time for the nation's farmers to talk with their legislators about the issues of importance to agriculture.
"This is a year divisible by the number two and members of Congress are always much more interested in hearing from constituents in those years," Doggett said. "There are plenty of opportunities elected officials."
For corn growers, Doggett says a top priority is an extension of the ethanol tax credit.
"We certainly think that the tax credit is an appropriate public policy decision to incentivize the use of renewable fuels produced here in the United States, particularly when it's produced by corn," Doggett said. "We are hopeful that the Congress can include this in some other legislation that will pass between now and the first of October. We have some good allies on Capitol Hill that have worked hard to go ahead and make this happen, so we're hopeful."
Doggett says a couple of other tax issues are also important, not just to corn growers, but all farmers. The estate tax is set to revert back to 2001 levels at the end of the year, which would put the rate at 55% and a $1 million exemption. Also on the way is an increase of the capital gains rate from 15% to 20%.
While the legislative calendar will be short and tight when Congress returns to Capitol Hill Sept. 13 Doggett notes these issues have an expiration date, which could give lawmakers a sense of urgency.
"The issues that we are working on that need to get done," Doggett said. "The tax issues we are talking about, these are provisions of law that expire at the end of this year. This is not something that is easily held over until next year. These are must-do's between now and the time election rolls around."
Doggett says there are legislative vehicles available for these issues, including a possible energy bill, small tax bill and spending measures.