Senate introduces its tax plan proposal: Senate Finance Committee Republicans on Nov. 9 unveiled their framework for overhauling the tax code, diverging in some areas from the House plan approved by the House Ways and Means Committee this week.
The Senate’s proposal would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, but would delay this cut until 2019. The Senate plan also would eliminate a provision of current tax law that allows state and local tax deductions. The House bill would allow a deduction for up to $10,000 in property taxes, but end deductions for income or sales taxes; the Senate Republican bill would eliminate all of them. Among other differences, the Senate bill would retain seven income brackets for individuals and families, whereas the House bill proposes collapsing the existing seven brackets down to four.
Similar to the House proposal, the Senate plan limits the deduction for net interest expense to 30 percent of adjusted taxable income, according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman’s mark. The NGFA and several other national agribusiness groups are communicating with House and Senate lawmakers to advocate for maintaining interest deductibility, as the interest paid on business loans has been 100 percent tax deductible for the past century. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to bring its markup of the tax reform plan to the committee for consideration on Nov. 13.
Perdue stresses importance of trade in remarks to farm broadcasters: Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stressed the importance of agricultural trade during remarks and a question-and-answer session with farm broadcasters on Nov. 9 in Kansas City, Mo. Responding to a question linking the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest crop production reports to trade, Perdue said “we need to preserve the homes where our agricultural products currently are going, and that means NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada).” He noted that President Trump “brings a different style of tough negotiations to the table,” and there are times when “you don’t get the best agreement until you are willing to walk away from the table.” While there is “some room for anxiety” regarding the NAFTA negotiations, Perdue said he was optimistic that they will result in a better agreement.
Perdue also said that during the Trump administration, future trade agreements will be bilateral in nature. He expressed frustration over the “protectionism” of the European Union, which he encountered first-hand in discussions during his recent trip to Europe, including the EU’s use of non-science-based arguments to thwart trade. He noted that several EU-member countries often are more reasonable in bilateral discussions but then “run for cover under the EU umbrella” to preserve the status quo. Perdue did express optimism that bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom on agricultural trade and biotechnology issues could be productive once it exits the EU.
Perdue took time during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s (NAFB) annual convention to visit the NGFA’s booth at NAFB’s Trade Talk event, where NGFA conducted dozens of television and radio interviews with national and regional farm broadcasting networks on trade, infrastructure, the farm bill and grain bin safety.
China lifts DDGS tax: China no longer will impose an 11-percent value added tax (VAT) on imports of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), as reported in key areas of consensus between the United States and China during President Donald Trump’s official state visit this week. Although the VAT is lifted, anti-dumping and countervailing duties against U.S. DDGS remain. The duties are the result of China’s Ministry of Commerce investigations that began in January 2016. According to the U.S. Grains Council, U.S. DDGS exports to China fell from 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to 3.3 million metric tons in 2016 and just 739,000 tons so far in 2017.
Conaway says House farm bill to come in early 2018: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said he expects his committee to act on the next farm bill legislation during the first quarter of 2018, according to a CQ Roll Call report. He noted the House will be occupied with legislation on tax reform and funding the federal government for the remainder of this year, and said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has agreed to move quickly to have the farm bill ready before the current 2014 version expires Sept. 30, 2018. Both committees have conducted numerous farm bill hearings throughout the year, focusing on several aspects of the law, including food stamp program reform and conservation policy.
OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping reporting deadline approaching: The Dec. 1 deadline quickly is approaching for covered employers to electronically submit injury and illness records to OSHA.
The agency delayed its Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule from the original July 1 deadline. Notably, the delay does not address one of the most controversial provisions of the electronic recordkeeping rule: The requirement that OSHA make employers’ injury and illness data publicly available online.
OSHA’s final rule on mandatory electronic reporting of occupational injuries-and-illness data updates OSHA recordkeeping obligations for employers that have at least 250 employers or have between 20 and 149 employers and are in what OSHA classifies a “high- risk” industry (an OSHA classification that includes grain, feed and processing facilities). Further information on the final rule can be found in the NGFA guidance document. The NGFA strongly opposed this regulation when OSHA first proposed it under the Obama administration in November 2013, and is continuing to urge that it be rescinded.
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