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News Update

August 2, 2012

House Votes to Extend Estate
Tax Relief Through 2013

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend the current tax code for another year. This includes keeping the estate tax, known as the death tax, at its current level of 35% for estates worth more than $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple.

Tackling the death tax is the top priority for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the oldest and largest beef industry organization in the United States. The death tax directly affects family-owned small businesses, such as farms and ranches, because of the burden it places on families hoping to pass their business on to the next generation.

Even though full repeal of the death tax is the top priority for NCBA, Kent Bacus, associate director of legislative affairs, says the plan passed by the House today is a step in the right direction.

"The good news is that the House-passed tax package provides a continuation of current estate tax relief through 2013. NCBA encourages both the House and Senate to keep the estate tax provision in any final tax package," said Bacus.

If Congress fails to act by the end of 2012, the death tax will revert to a $1 million exemption level at a 55% tax rate.
"Most farmers and ranchers would trip the $1 million threshold on land values alone. Land values are through the roof and all of the assets it takes to operate a farm or ranch, including livestock, farm machinery and more, would hit the majority of farm and ranch families throughout the country," said Bacus. "This is not a tax on the wealthy. We must find permanent relief or risk taking land out of production agriculture, threatening our ability to provide food for U.S. consumers and abroad."

The House is scheduled to discuss the future of comprehensive tax reform on Thursday.

"If Congress is serious about comprehensive tax reform, it must provide permanency in the tax code and provide permanent relief from the death tax. Farmers and ranchers already face unpredictable conditions such as the weather and input costs, but the tax code should not be an unpredictable situation they should face," said Bacus. "Until full repeal of the death tax can be achieved, at minimum, Congress should maintain the current estate tax relief."

North Dakota Angus Tour Set for Sept. 17-18

If Angus cattle are your craze and you enjoy good food and company, then you won't want to miss this year's North Dakota Angus Tour, Sept. 17-18, in the northeast and the east central part of the state. Larry Corah, vice president of Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), will be in attendance to educate the audience on the new GeneMax® Angus-specific DNA profile for commercial cattle.

Tour stops on the two-day event include Jared Benson/Justin Green, Maddock; the Carrington Research Extension Center (CREC), Carrington; Hoyt Angus Ranch, McHenry; Spickler Ranch, Glenfield; Jallo Angus Ranch, Fordville; Nelson Angus, Egeland; TNT Angus, Rock Lake; and McCumber Angus Ranch, Rolette, as well as several other Angus operations on display.

The cost of the tour, which includes a two-day bus ride, all meals, and one night's lodging at the Spirit Lake Casino in Devils Lake, is $75 per person or $100 per couple if you preregister before Sept. 1. After Sept 1, the cost is $100 per person or $125 per couple.

For more information and to register for the tour, log on to the North Dakota Angus Association website, click here, print off the registration form and mail to: North Dakota Angus Association, c/o Nathan and Emily Spickler, 8375 7th Parkway NE, Glenfield, ND 58443, along with the corresponding registration fee. Contact the Spicklers at 701-674-3169 or American Angus Association Regional Manager Vern Frey, at 701-721-0344 for further details.

Disaster Relief Not a Replacement for Comprehensive Farm Bill

National Farmer's Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement regarding a letter written by a coalition of agriculture and rural organizations urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a comprehensive, long-term farm bill before the 2008 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30:

"This letter highlights the sense of urgency the House should have in passing a comprehensive, five-year farm bill before time runs out. An incomplete disaster package is a blatant attempt to kill any chance of enacting a new farm bill in this Congress. While NFU fully supports providing disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers, we are extremely concerned with the limited disaster package that is being offered.

"All of the programs the stand-alone disaster legislation temporarily extends could be extended for the full life of the 2012 Farm Bill if the 2012 Farm Bill were conferenced and enacted. This duplicative step only wastes precious legislative time."

For the full release, click here.

Statement by National Agriculture Organizations Regarding House Disaster Assistance Legislation

The following statement was sent to congressional members by a coalition of organizations representing U.S. agriculture:

"The undersigned farm organizations support finding a path forward to reaching agreement on a new five-year farm bill before current program authorities expire on Sept. 30. We are disappointed that the House Republican leadership has decided to not move forward with the House Agriculture Committee's bill before adjourning for the August recess. That bill would provide the disaster relief our farm and ranch families need at this time.

"Instead, we understand the House may consider a separate disaster bill, under suspension of the rules on August 2, to make supplemental agricultural disaster assistance available for Fiscal Year 2012. Specifically, the bill retroactively extends the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) so that producers are helped for Fiscal Year 2012. All of those programs expired in 2011. Offsets to pay for the disaster assistance would come from imposing caps on two conservation programs, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)."

For more information and the full statement, click here.

JBS/Five River Cattle Cow-Calf/Stocker Meeting Canceled

Unfortunately, due to limited participation, the Aug. 7-8, Cow-Calf/Stocker Producer meeting has been canceled. The lack of interest in the event to date may be attributable to the current challenges confronting our industry, and the producer community in particular.

We apologize if this decision results in any personal inconvenience and look forward to rescheduling the event at a time more convenient to producers in the near future.

NW Iowa Small Beef Feedlot Manure Control Tour Set

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Beef Center will host a three-site tour for beef producers in Lyon County early next month. Extension ag engineer Kris Kohl said the northwest Iowa half-day tour Aug. 7 will provide an opportunity for feedlot operators to look at different manure control structures and management options for small open feedlots, and hear from extension staff on costs associated and related to each system.

"Two of the locations feature effluent pumping and are part of a demonstration project funded by the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State," Kohl said. "The third shows an alternative technology of a settling basin with grass infiltration strip, and is funded with EQIP dollars."

The tour starts at 1 p.m. at the Brian Mogler farm located two miles south of Lester at 1695 Dove Ave. (K30). This location demonstrates how producers can collect manure effluent below settling basins and pump the effluent to nearby cropland, redirecting the nutrients away from water sources.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Anthrax Case Confirmed in Texas Sheep

A yearling female sheep in West Texas has been diagnosed with anthrax. This is the second confirmed case of anthrax in a Texas animal for 2012 and the first in livestock this year. The infected sheep was located near Mertzon, Texas, which is approximately 26 miles southwest of San Angelo. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has quarantined the premises. TAHC regulations require vaccinations of exposed livestock and proper disposal of carcasses before a quarantine can be released.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with worldwide distribution, including Texas. It is not uncommon for anthrax to be diagnosed in livestock or wildlife in the southwestern part of the state. Basic sanitation precautions such as hand washing, wearing long sleeves and gloves can prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people if handling affected livestock or carcasses.

Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings is all common signs of anthrax in livestock. Carcasses may also appear bloated and appear to decompose quickly. Livestock or animals displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private practitioner or TAHC official.

For more information and the release, click here.

Senators Introduce Law to Help Ag Producers Manage Risk

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) Wednesday, Aug. 1, introduced a bill to exempt farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses from the margin requirements in the Dodd-Frank financial legislation. These exempted groups, known as end-users, use derivatives to insure against extreme price fluctuations for commodities integral to their business operations.

The bill introduced by the senators is identical to H.R. 2682, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 370 to 24, and an amendment Crapo and Johanns introduced to the farm bill, but not included in the final package. It clarifies current law by making explicit that commercial end-users are not subject to costly margin requirements imposed by financial regulators.

Johanns said, "Farmers, ranchers and businesses are responsibly protecting themselves, their families and their customers against risks like drought, wildfires or fluctuations in fuel prices — not participating in the type of day-trading this regulation was meant to target. Our bipartisan legislation makes that clear and protects these businesses from burdensome regulations."

Consumers Union Fires Back on Antibiotics Issue

Consumers Union (CU), the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has sent its own letter to Congressional leaders to rebut a missive sent earlier in the month from the American Meat Institute, North American Meat Association and other organizations outlining their challenges to Consumer Reports' "Meat On Drugs" report.

In it, the CU says it has "undertaken a Meat Without Drugs campaign because antibiotic resistance has become a major public health crisis. … We believe that one of the best ways to reduce the level of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is to minimize the use of antibiotics in food-animal production."

The eight-page letter was sent to the chair and the ranking member of both the House Committee on Agriculture and the ag subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations.

To read the letter in its entirety, click here.


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