BY TIMOTHY EGGERT
Hundreds of Illinois Farm Bureau members do not support President Joe Biden’s multitrillion dollar social, climate and tax legislation.
In a letter signed by 429 members at IFB’s 2021 Annual Meeting, and sent to every member of Illinois’ congressional delegation, members said they primarily oppose the $2 trillion package because of its “massive amount of spending” over the next 10 years.
They further oppose the plan’s tax increases, “which will surely have ripple effects throughout the U.S. economy.”
“As citizens and taxpayers, we would prefer to see enormous, consequential public policy decisions and changes to tax policy addressed in a bipartisan manner, which has surely not been the case with the Build Back Better plan,” IFB members wrote.
American Farm Bureau Federation also opposes the legislation.
All 13 House Democrats from Illinois voted for the bill; all five House Republicans from Illinois voted against the bill — its version of the sweeping plan in November.
Senators are currently negotiating their chamber’s text of the legislation. They will use reconciliation — a nuanced process that avoids a filibuster — to pass the legislation before it returns to the House.
The House-approved text of the bill includes nearly $90 billion for agriculture, forestry and conservation programs.
Among the top-line agriculture allocations is $28 billion for conservation programs established under the 2018 farm bill; $18.3 billion in funding and loans for rural energy and electricity programs and $1 billion to expand biofuel distribution and fueling facilities.
The Senate’s proposed version of the bill features additional funding for the ag industry, added by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The increase includes a $2.35 billion for technical assistance by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a boost from the $200 million earmarked in the House bill.
“If it does get enacted, it’ll be interesting to see if USDA can marshal the resources and technical assistance to put tens of billions more dollars in conservation on the ground,” said Adam Nielsen, IFB national legislative director.
“They’re going to need every penny of that technical assistance — and then some — to accomplish the bill’s ambitious goals,” Nielsen said. “On the other hand, I also question how much demand will be there.”
The Senate language would also double the dollars for USDA’s climate hubs from $50 million to $100 million, and raise funding for agriculture research to $2.15 billion, up from $2 billion in the House-passed bill.
According to an analysis released earlier this month by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the ag provisions in the Senate’s version of the bill authorize $94.4 billion in spending, but only $89.4 billion of that would be spent across the next decade.
CBO’s score of the House version found the legislation would permit $81.7 billion in spending, but only $76.8 billion would be spent before 2032.
To pay for its sweeping programs, the bill features a number of taxes, mostly aimed at corporations and high-income individuals.
It also includes a strategy for the Environmental Protection Agency to fine industrial emitters of methane, but does not currently include changes to stepped-up basis.
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.