Stallman: Congress gave farmers certainty for 2013

Published online: Jan 15, 2013
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Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman told members of that organization Sunday that last summer's drought should be evidence enough that long term federal farm policy is needed.

Stallman was alluding in his annual address to the failure by Congress to pass a five-year measure. He said it was frustrating, but not entirely so. Stallman sounded at least marginally grateful for what Washington lawmakers accomplished before the year ran out.

"What Congress did on the farm bill is not perfect," said Stallman, during his address Sunday morning in Nashville, "but at least it gives us certainty for 2013."

Later, in a news conference, Stallman explained to reporters that as hope faded for a five-year measure, the Farm Bureau began to push for an extension of the 2008 bill.

"Always we were hoping that in the fiscal cliff deal there would be a way - and I think it could have happened had there been the political leadership will to do it - to go ahead and craft the compromise between the House and the Senate, and put it in a fiscal cliff package," said Stallman. "That's not the way it played out."

In his annual address, Stallman said that it is now up to the new Congress to enact farm bill reforms that the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee have approved. But he also expressed encouragement for the lame-duck session of Congress and for the lobbying effectiveness of the nation's largest farm organization.

"We achieved long-sought victories on tax issues, such as permanent - and let me say that again," said Stallman, for emphasis, "permanent reform of estate taxes and capital gains taxes." That line in Stallman's speech was one of several drawing enthusiastic applause from his audience.

The American Farm Bureau has, for many years, sought changes, especially to the law providing for taxes to be paid by families passing property from one generation to the next. While the rate is now higher and the exemption less than it was in 2012, Congress succeeded in keeping the burden lighter than what was to have taken effect at the end of the year.

Stallman concluded in his speech, however, that the nation can no longer afford political drama and what he called manufactured crises. "We have grown tired of that reality show."