Missouri Farm Bureau President and northwest Missouri farmer Blake Hurst says the agreement brings a small amount of relief but leaves plenty of questions:
The fiscal cliff bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama is a decidedly mixed bag. Farmers are grateful for the continuation of the current gift and estate tax exclusions, but are disappointed by the increase in the top tax rate. At least farmers can now plan their estates with more certainty. The extension of section 179 and depreciation provisions are helpful to farm businesses, and again provide farmers the ability to plan.
The failure to pass a five-year farm bill is a huge disappointment for agriculture and could have been done as part of the fiscal cliff deal. Farmers are left in limbo, wondering just exactly what to expect after the current extension ends in September of 2013. Emergency livestock disaster programs are reinstated, except further action by Congress is needed to provide funding and address producer eligibility issues left unresolved. Dairy farmers are still suffering from a cost price squeeze that they had hoped a new farm bill would help alleviate.
And finally, Congress and the President did nothing at all to rein in out-of-control government spending. This fiscal cliff may have been avoided, but another is fast approaching since we hit our debt limit again. We certainly hope fiscal responsibility-and sanity-become the priority moving forward.