Agriculture

Agriculture remains a top industry in our state, and we must make sure that we advance initiatives that strike the right balance between ensuring fiscal responsibility, providing certainty to our farmers and maintaining the strength of our agribusinesses. As Chairman of the Agriculture Policy Group under the Republican Policy Committee and Co-Chairman and founder of the bipartisan Agriculture and Rural America Task Force, I am working daily to effectively and efficiently streamline our federal government to empower our farmers and entrepreneurs and get our economy back on track.

Providing Certainty for Our Farmers

Through the years, the tools our farmers use to harvest their crops have drastically transformed and expanded to accommodate America’s growing demand for food, forest products and livestock. As the ways we harvest our lands and provide for our nutrition needs have changed, so should the policies that govern them. We owe it to our farmers to equip them with the tools and certainty they need to produce an affordable and stable food supply.

This is why I supported the Conference Committee Agricultural Act of 2014 which is more commonly known as the farm bill. This bipartisan, bicameral bill that saves taxpayers’ money, reduces spending, improves farm policy, and replaces wasteful government programs with common-sense reforms. While I had hoped the Conference Committee would maintain all reforms and savings found in the House-passed bill, specifically regarding the reforms to food stamps, the status quo is simply unacceptable. Since 2008, the cost of food stamps has doubled from $37.6 billion to nearly $80 billion and it continues to grow. While the food stamp program serves a noble purpose to provide support for many Americans who have hit bottom, it is not meant to keep them there.

We need to equip these citizens with the tools they need to participate in our workforce and become self-sufficient, and this bill took significant steps to do just that. It offered the first welfare reforms since 1996 while reforming the food stamps program, modernizing these programs to better serve those in need while eliminating the rampant waste, fraud and abuse. It continues to encourage and enable work participation while strengthening the integrity of the food stamp program so that federal nutrition programs serve those truly in need.

The bill slashed over $23 billion to help reduce the debt by finding responsible savings in food stamps, eliminating direct payments completely, consolidating or eliminating over 100 redundant programs, and making common-sense reforms that protect our farmers and ensure our agriculture community thrives.

There are several programs important to North Carolina’s farmers and producers that we must still address during the 115th Congress and the markup of the next Farm Bill. I look forward to working on these issues with my colleagues and continuing my work on behalf of our growers, producers and agriculture community.

To learn more about the 2014 Farm Conference Report, click here.

Repealing the Unfair Estate Tax

The biggest concern amongst our farmers is how to keep future generations on the farm and how to pass down the benefits of years of labor to their children and grandchildren. The “death tax” (also known as the estate tax) is bad Washington policy that crushes the profitability of farming and drives farmers out of the industry. The death tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of the taxable estate of a deceased person. This 40% tax (current rate) is placed upon farmers who own an estate greater than $5.34 million.

I have introduced legislation to prevent family farms from paying this immoral estate tax. My bill, the Farmers Against Crippling Taxes Act (H.R. 30), would permanently repeal the federal estate tax and end the double taxation that threatens the existence of family farms, small businesses and jobs.

In addition, I have voted to repeal the death tax and have been awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award by the 60 Plus Association, a national non-partisan senior citizen’s organization, for my work to eliminate the death tax.

Reducing Bureaucratic Regulations

The Obama Administration relied upon executive power to pass nearly 300 economically significant regulations, implementing more hurdles, more costs, and more rules and putting the burden on our economy and job creators. This unconstitutional power grab is most apparent in the bloated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Every day, new businesses struggle as they are forced to comply with rules that even go so far as to tell them what type of light bulbs to use or whether their own children can work on the family farm. We must do everything we can to reduce the burdensome regulations from the EPA.

I’ve voted to reduce funding for the EPA and decrease its staff to the lowest levels since 1989. I also voted to block many harmful regulations, including the EPA’s outrageous “Waters of the United States” rule to regulate irrigation ditches and ponds on our farms through redefining navigable waters under the Clean Water Act. This misguided power grab would give limitless federal control over nearly all state and local waters and have devastating economic consequences for farmers, property owners and communities in North Carolina. I will continue to do all that I can to fight the EPA’s out-of-control regulatory agenda and protect our agriculture community from bureaucratic overreach.

Protecting the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP)

In November of 2013, I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues in a letter urging Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell to take necessary steps to ensure that the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP) is not subject to FY2014 sequestration cuts.

Tobacco is an integral part of North Carolina’s agriculture and economy, and its growers are some of the hardest working producers in our state. TTPP helped move this important crop into the free market and provided certainty to stakeholders when they needed it most. Moreover, this program is entirely funded by fees assessed on tobacco product manufacturers and importers, and therefore should not be subject to sequestration to make up for fiscal mismanagement elsewhere.

I am pleased that we were successful in convincing USDA and OMB to protect this user-funded program from sequestration cuts.  (Tobacco Farmer payments not subjected to sequestrationRaleigh News & Observer)

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