State of the Union Touches on Ag Issues of Trade, Immigration

President Obama addresses variety of ag issues in State of the Union Address; groups respond

Published on: Jan 30, 2014

According to Stallman, a change to the tax code should include reforms for individuals and corporate entities.

"More than 96% of farms and 75% of farm sales are taxed under IRS provisions which affect individual taxpayers," Stallman explained. "Any tax reform proposal that fails to include the individual tax code will not help but would likely hurt our nation's farmers and ranchers. These farmers could lose their business deductions, yet they would not benefit from lower corporate rates if only corporate taxes are revised."

Transportation/Waterways

Several groups pointed out the President's references to using tax reform savings for waterways and transportation infrastructure.

"We can take the money we save from this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes -- because in today's global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.  We'll need Congress to protect more than 3 million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer," Obama said.

Groups applauded the shout-out on the waterways bill, which is currently in conference. It is legislation that many of them have long supported.

"These (waterways) bills provide critical investment in the locks, dams, river channels and ports that farmers need to move their products to market," commented Ray Gaesser, American Soybean Association President. "We thank the President for mentioning these bills specifically.

"We encourage Congress to move forward with the conference committee and pass a bill on for the President's signature," he added.

Waterways Council CEO Michael Toohey added that passing a bill would provide big benefits to manufacturers, farmers and shippers and "will result in the creation and sustainment of American jobs."

Trade

Trade, too, was a State of the Union address topic that resonated among farm groups, who said that expanded trade opportunities are vital to America's farmers and ranchers.

In his address, the President noted the importance of the Trade Promotion Authority, which would allow him to approve trade agreements quickly.