January 20, 2006
'Death tax' flexibility given
Editor's note: The following story is a quick wrap-up of policy adopted recently at the American Farm Bureau Federation. Because of deadline pressures, a more complete story on policy and the possible impacts on Texas producers will appear in the next issue of Texas Agriculture.
By Mike Barnett
Seen through the eyes of Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke, Texas farmers and ranchers will benefit from policy adopted at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in Nashville. The credit for success at the convention goes, he said in an interview the day after the meeting, to the grassroots agricultural producers of Texas.
"We are a grassroots organization. That's where all these policies do start," he said, noting a number of policies that originated in Texas were adopted at the national level. "They are not something we dreamed up as we came to the convention. They are developed through the county process, they go through our resolutions process, go through the state convention and when they are passed there, they are forwarded to the American resolutions process. They go through that process before they even get to the national convention. Then, when they get to the national convention, there are 450 delegates who are scrutinizing them. So any policy that gets through pretty well has grassroots scrutiny."
Dierschke said one of the most important issues at the convention was the ongoing debate on the estate tax, more commonly known in Farm Bureau circles as the "death tax." The TFB president noted that delegates are still for l00 percent repeal of the onerous tax. But delegates also adopted policy that said Farm Bureau would work on a $10 million death tax exemptionindexed for inflationif 100 percent repeal was not a possibility.
"That exemption will give us a little more room to work on this issue," Dierschke said. "This has been a problem in the past. We've been for 100 percent repeal and once again, we're going to stay on that position. However, if something is offered, then we'll be able to work on it."
Delegates also took a look at what the next farm bill might look like, Dierschke said. They supported an extension of the current farm bill until a new World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement is reached. Delegates also supported extending concepts of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 into the next farm bill, and offered a number of considerations if changes are necessary. Those changes will be outlined in the next issue of Texas Agriculture.
Delegates also examined the hot button issue of energy development. Dierschke said delegates were in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and searching the outer continental shelf for new petroleum reserves.
"We're in favor of going and searching those out and developing those so we're not so dependent on foreign oil," he said. "And we're also in favor of the renewable energy resources that are available."
Dierschke also noted that fellow Texan and former Texas Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman of Columbus was elected unanimously to his third two-year term as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"We're pleased with that," he said.