AGRI Business Council of Indiana

Roundtable of Indiana Ag Leaders Discusses NAFTA Concerns

ACI President Amy Cornell joined several Indiana agriculture leaders in a roundtable discussion with Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and ISDA Director Bruce Kettler.

Read Hoosier Ag Today‘s coverage of the roundtable here.

News from the Statehouse

It is crunch time at the Statehouse as the legislative session winds down to finish this week by its Sine Die date of March 14. The deadline for third readings in each chamber has passed, and conference committee meetings are well underway. For many bills, their fate hangs in the balance these last few days of session, including legislation addressing industrial hemp, autonomous vehicles, school safety, additional funding for K-12 schools, and expansion of mental health facilities.

Governor Holcomb already has signed 42 bills that have landed on his desk as of Friday. The list includes legislation addressing alcohol sales, sunscreen usage at school, foster parents rights, decreasing the state’s infant mortality rate, and fighting human trafficking. As session comes to its final week both chambers have begun the time-honored tradition of celebrating the service of their retirees, some of whom have served Hoosiers for decades.

You can find your bill tracking report here and the actual language of the bill here. The 2018 Bill Watch webpage can be found here. A more in depth policy report regarding state and federal news can be found by clicking HERE for the ACI Policy Newsletter which includes more details and recent developments on bills ACI is tracking.

Trump Tariffs May be Good for NAFTA Talks

Many nations are moving to consider trade concessions that would exempt them from the U.S. tariffs. Canada and Mexico were temporarily exempted pending a NAFTA agreement and rumors over the weekend indicated Australia may be next to escape.

Read more here

Despite Slight Decrease, Long-Term No-Till Trends Prove Strong

Indiana farmers once again are leading the nation in building valuable topsoil by using soil health management systems in their operations.

Read more here.

Proposed Policies Could Brighten Farm Outlook

Farm incomes are expected to remain flat in 2018, but the horizon may hold some reasons for optimism, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief economist.

Read more here.

Co-op Tax Benefit To Be Fixed This Month, Lawmaker Says

A fix for a provision in the recently passed tax bill that gives farmers an incentive to sell grain to cooperatives instead of non-cooperative elevators or ethanol production facilities is being worked on and likely will likely be part of an omnibus bill set to be passed on March 23.

Read more here.

Northey Sworn In For USDA Post

The long-awaited approval by the U.S. Senate of Bill Northey to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture was confirmed on Feb. 27 and sworn in on March 6.

Read more here.

ACI Signs Letter of Support for STB Nominees (Source: The Fertilizer Institute)

On March 2, the White House announced that it will nominate Mr. Patrick Fuchs and Ms. Michelle Schultz to the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Mr. Fuchs currently serves as Senior Professional Staff for Senator John Thune (R-SD) on the Senate Commerce Committee. He has a great deal of expertise, having been a key principle to reauthorize the STB and extend the implementation deadlines for Positive Train Control (PTC). TFI has had a very positive experience working with Mr. Fuchs, and we look forward to working with him at the STB.

Ms. Schultz is less known, but viewed as someone who will be impartial and fair. She also fits a desire by the Administration to find a candidate with legal expertise and a rail background. She is a deputy general counsel at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), where she has served since 2006.

ACI signed a letter of support that will be sent to Capitol Hill expressing support for the President’s nominations of Mr. Fuchs and Ms. Schultz. Their nominations are a positive for all shippers. Both nominees will provide valuable expertise to the Board. In addition, neither nominee is a railroad industry insider, which was a serious concern and a challenge in the past. And many key issues are pending confirmation of STB Board Members, it is also important to urge that they be considered in a timely manner so that the STB can get fully staffed as quickly as possible. The draft letter is attached for your reference.

Proposed Fix on Sec. 199A Circulating on Capitol Hill (Source: Agri-Pulse)

The long-awaited “fix” to Sec. 199A of the new federal tax reform law which skewed grain sales to ag cooperatives and away from private companies and grain elevators is in hand and is now circulating among stakeholders on Capitol Hill and industry for their blessing, said Sen. John Thune (R, SD) this week.

“I think everybody is in pretty good shape,” Thune said, adding the language will be made public once all key negotiators have signed off.  “I’m sure there is not 100% unanimous consent, but the organizations we are working with, both on the private grain elevator side and the co-op side, have been involved in all of this, so I think we are about there.”  Thune told one ag news outlet that cooperatives were “not particularly incentivized to a make a deal here…I suspect most of them will be fine with the solution.” Thune and Sen. John Hoeven (R, ND), along with House Republican leaders, led the effort to fix Sec. 199A – they were the authors of the original tax reform redefinition of a “pass-through entity” that inadvertently created the problem – and they’ve met regularly with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and the National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) to find the fix for the market upset.  Reports indicate the new language may simply reinstate the old 9% Sec. 199 manufacturing deduction for cooperatives, most of which was returned to member owners.

It’s hoped sign-off on the new language, which will be retroactive to December 31, 2017, will come as early as next week so the fix can be rolled into the FY2018 omnibus spending bill being finalized for floor action prior to March 23 when the current continuing resolution funding the government expires.  “If this drags on any longer,” Thune said, “it will create a lot of problems.”

See the ACI Policy Report for an update from NGFA on 199A developments.

Weekly Washington Report – 3-12-18 (by Steve Kopperud)

Click HERE to access the full Washington Report featuring these important stories:

  • Trump Tariff Tirade Catches Industry Off Balance Along with Trading Partners
  • Proposed Fix on Sec. 199A Circulating on Capitol Hill
  • White House to Set Third Hill-Industry RFS/RIN Meeting; RIN Cap, Waiver Credit, E15 Sales Top Topics
  • Farm Bill Pace Accelerating, Roberts Sets Schedule, Proposals Pile Up
  • Dodd-Frank Reform Bill Approved by Senate Committee
  • WOTUS “Carve Out” Sought by Hill GOP
  • Trade Notes
    • NAFTA Ag Section Close to “Closing”?
    • Senate Finally Approves New Ag Negotiator, USTR Execs
    • Time to Revisit TPP
    • Northey Sworn in as USDA Undersecretary
    • Michigan Ag Director Joins Perdue Team
    • Agriculture Champion, Statesman Sen. Thad Cochran to Retire April 1