PENNSYLVANIA FARM BUREAU
|While mentioning several legislative achievements in 2012, PFB President Carl T. Shaffer also noted that more challenges lie ahead.|
HERSHEY, Pa. -- Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) says farm families will significantly benefit from recent changes to state laws that provide exemptions from considerable tax burdens and remove obstacles impacting agriculture transportation. Farm Bureau, however, warns that the clock is running out on Congress to address critical financial issues affecting farm families across the United States.
“The future is brighter for Pennsylvania farmers, and for generations of farmers to come, now that they are exempt from the state inheritance tax and the realty transfer tax when a family-owned farm enterprise changes its business structure,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer, during a news conference at PFB’s 62nd annual meeting in Hershey.
However, Shaffer also pointed out that “Congress must come together during the lame duck session to solve substantial tax concerns that will impact farmers. If nothing is done, a farmer’s ability to deduct farm equipment expenses and utilize bonus depreciation will be greatly reduced. We need a real solution to prevent a capital gains tax increase on the sale of land, livestock and other assets,” continued Shaffer. “Farm families are also urging lawmakers to take action on the federal estate tax. If Congress does nothing, the maximum tax rate will increase to 55% and the farm exemption will be reduced from $5 million to $1 million. Such a low exemption would negatively affect farms of all sizes in Pennsylvania, including farms the public identifies as small and mid-sized family farms.”
While many Farm Bureau goals have been accomplished this year in Harrisburg, PFB asserts there is still time in 2012 to address major agricultural issues at the national level, such as the Farm Bill, the Capital Gains Tax and the Federal Estate Tax.
Shaffer, who is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s executive committee, says another area of critical importance that needs to be addressed in the months ahead is improvements to infrastructure affecting the transportation of food products to market in Pennsylvania and across the world.
“Our competitive advantage over foreign nations has historically been our ability to move products to overseas markets using our network of highway, rail and port infrastructure. If the United States wants to remain a global player in agriculture trade, we must confront the deterioration of our seaports and a growing inability to load and unload the largest ships that will be able to navigate the new Panama Canal,” added Shaffer.
Shaffer, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on his Columbia County farm, says most farmers across Pennsylvania were spared from significant weather-related losses this year and that it could be a good year for many farmers, especially those who produce grains, fruits and vegetables. Shaffer, however, warned that drought conditions in the Midwest have significantly reduced corn and soybean yields, which in turn hurts farmers in Pennsylvania who purchase those crops to feed their animals.
“Profit margins continue to be slim or non-existent for some farmers due to high production costs, including skyrocketing feed costs. Dairy farmers have been especially troubled in 2012, as milk prices fell during the first half of the year, while feed costs increased significantly. Milk producers continue to struggle to meet escalating feed costs, despite an increase in milk prices over the past few months,” concluded Shaffer.
Aside from working with lawmakers to amend Pennsylvania tax laws, PFB achieved another top legislative priority through the enactment of legislation that updates the state vehicle code.