What Did We Get Done in 2015?
December 24, 2015
Hello everybody out there in farm country. I want to sincerely thank Monsanto for being a reliable, enthusiastic sponsor of this program for so many years. They are stepping back for a year. The National Corn Growers Association is stepping up. My sponsors this coming year will be John Deere and the National Corn Growers Association.
And now for today’s commentary—
The U.S. Congress didn’t get much done this year until this month. Agriculture had a long wish list that just sat on the table. But surprise! I think we came out better than I thought we could. First, the Congress passed a five-year 305 billion dollar transportation bill. Our roads and bridges needed that desperately. Recent bills have been only for one year and this is five. I had hoped they would use an increase in the fuel tax to help fund it, but they did find the money.
Another problem that has been a constant battle since 2002 when it was enacted is Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). The Congress repealed it. At least the labeling requirements for beef and pork are gone. Chicken is still in place, but that’s not in conflict. The tariffs that were authorized before the repeal would have cost us billions in ag exports. Senator Pat Roberts had this to say: “American farmers, ranchers, and small businesses will finally get the certainty they deserve.”
Finally, real money can now be counted on with the permanent authorization of Section 179 that will allow farms and small businesses to expense up to $500,000 when they buy that new tractor, combine, etc.
Not to overlook another important question. The Administration has settled on a renewable fuel standard (RFS) that doesn’t make big oil or the corn industry happy. But at least we now may have some certainty.
Not to get too excited – there are some very serious issues that are not fixed. Heading that list is the GE food labeling battle. With Vermont and other states lining up to impose state labeling laws, Congress must act and require uniformity. We can’t have 50 state laws dictating different labeling requirements.
The Administration still has not announced the Dietary Guidelines. Thanks to the Congress, they have directed that the Administration can not use environmental factors in the Guidelines. By law, they are supposed to be “dietary guidelines.”
In closing, let’s be grateful – the government did not shut down. We have money to operate next year.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas.
If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to http://www.johnblockreports.com Have .a great weekend.
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington, D.C.