Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pending Legislation That Will Impact the Family Farm and Rural Landowners

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) email update yesterday included a call to members to contact their Congressman during this August recess to express their Support and Opposition to critical legislation that will have a huge impact on our economic lives as cattle raisers. I've included links where I could find them, to the actual text of the bills at issue. Perusing the actual text of the bills is enlightening, and something I think we all should do more often in these days of minimal debate and rapid passage of bills which will effect our lives in both Texas and the USA.

The Affordable Food and Fuel for America Act ". . .would phase out government subsidies for corn-based ethanol over five years and promote the commercial development of second generation biofuels. This legislation would force corn-based ethanol to become commercially viable without the assistance of government dollars and eliminate competition with other commodities that use corn"

In 2008, I blogged on the devastation that I percieve has been and will continue to occur in the USA as a result of the government's blind and dumb subsidy of corn ethanol. Not only is it forever changing the landscape and air quality of states such as Nebraska and Minnesota, it is forever changing the economics of our food supply. In particular to cattle raisers, it has increased the input cost of feedlots to a point of zero profitability at times, and thus the value of our feeder calf crops at market is reduced.

The Family Farm Preservation and Conservation Estate Tax Act(couldn't find a direct link to this bill) ". . .would exempt working farm and ranch land from the death tax, as long as the land is kept in production agriculture. The bill also provides estate tax relief for land under qualified conservation easements." I could find no link to the text of this bill, instead I found references to it being from the 2007/2008 legislative sessions. TSCRA's summation of it's benefits to the continuation of family farms, rather than their liquidation due to death, makes it clear this is a bill we should all want passed.

The Clean Water Restoration Act ". . .would expand federal control over all wet areas within Texas including stock tanks, drainage ditches, ponds, small and intermittent streams, creek beds, playa lakes and mud holes." The impact of this legislation on every day life in rural America is boundless, and would mire the average family farm, the average hunter or fisherman, in red tape and legalities that will forever change our historical and current concept of private land ownership and freedom to live as we wish on our land.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (the Cap & Trade Bill) ". . .will drastically increase the costs of fuel, electricity, feed, fertilizer, equipment and other production costs necessary to run a successful ranching business. The costs to ranchers far outweigh any benefits this legislation offers."

I absolutely need to read and try to understand for myself the impact of this bill. It is somehow still shrouded in mystery to me despite my obsession with the news. One has the sense that it is the ultimate boogey-man of bills, without even understanding the actual mechanics of its impact on our economy today and in the future. One thing that is abundantly clear, is major corporations such as General Electric stand to benefit hugely from the passage of this bill.