2021 ag policies are a major talking point at the AFBF Convention

Thousands of farmers and ranchers are attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2021 Convention this week.

In one workshop, the AFBF policy team laid out their expectations for the incoming Biden administration and congressional legislation.

With Democrats now in control of the House, Senate, and Administration, the American Farm Bureau expects to see movement on many of the policy items discussed on the campaign trail.

Pat Wolff, Senior Director of Congressional Relations, anticipates tax reform in the first six months of the new Congress, including a potential reduction in estate tax exemptions and removal of the stepped-up basis for capital gains.

According to Wolff, “If you take away the stepped-up basis that’s a problem for when property is sold, but even worse, some are talking about imposing capital gains taxes at death and that would mean a double hit. That would mean when a family member dies and a farm is changing from one generation to the next, they would have to pay estate taxes and capital gains taxes.”

Andrew Walmsey says to watch for climate policy mixed in with other types of legislation, like tax policy, appropriations, and infrastructure, as well as traditional vehicles like the 2023 Farm Bill.

“There will be a lot of effort, a lot of hearings, a lot of conversations about what the conservation title looked like, title 2 of the Farm Bill. It’s definitely going to have a climate tinge to it,” Walmsey notes.

The fight over the Waters of the U.S. rule will also probably see a resurgence.

Don Parrish says that theBiden administration will likely stop defending the Trump administration’s WOTUS rule in court and instead look to expand its reach.

“I think two areas in particular that they are going to focus on is in the area of ephemeral, they want to expand jurisdiction in that area, as well as increase the amount of waters that are covered under adjacent wetlands,” Parrish states.

On labor, American Farm Bureau will be watching for a potential increase in the federal minimum wage, as well as updates to immigration policy and the H-2A visa program.

According to Allison Crittenden, AFBF Congressional Relations Director, “For those who use the H-2A program, those employers are required to pay the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, and we are currently waiting to hear what the 2021 AWER will be after some litigation has resulted in USDA having to reinstate the farm labor survey and gathering that data to compute the new AWER for 2021.”

One priority issue that the Biden administration may take their time addressing is the U.S. imposed 25 percent tariff rate on $200 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods. Dave Salmonson, AFBF Congressional Relations Senior Director, expects the tariffs to continue well into 2021.

“The Biden campaign has said so far they want to take time to evaluate the U.S. China Phase One agreement before they make any decision about what to do with the tariffs,” he states.

With the Senate split 50/50 and a narrow margin in the House, AFBF congressional team says to pay close attention to the Problem Solvers Caucus, Blue Dog Democrats, and the Main Street Caucus as potential bipartisan policy movers in the 117th Congress.


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