Smith, Agriculture Committee Members Urge Tax Reforms to Protect Farmers, Ranchers

Sep 11, 1998

WASHINGTON, DC — With U.S. farmers and ranchers facing severe economic stress, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Smith (R-OR), in a letter signed by 22 Republican House members, urged House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer (R-TX) to pursue several items of tax policy to help America's farmers and ranchers.

In their letter, the Members urged Chairman Archer to pursue immediate, full deductibility of health insurance, which is currently scheduled for 2006, permanent income averaging, adoption of H.R. 3659 providing for Farm and Ranch Risk Management (FARRM) Accounts, elimination of estate taxes, and capital gains tax reform.

"U.S. farmers and ranchers are facing severe economic stress caused by the general downturn in our normal export markets accompanied by large crop production and inventories worldwide." The Members wrote. "Although U.S. winter wheat producers were the first to feel the full impact of these global conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects our farmers to harvest near record crops of corn and soybeans, putting farmers in the unfortunate position of receiving prices well below their cost of production."

"Compounding the effects of low prices, many regions of the nation have suffered through drought and other weather-related crop disasters that have left farmers and ranchers with little or nothing to meet family living expenses and pay off annual operating loans," the Members wrote.

"We currently are assessing the full extent of the damages caused by crop disasters and low prices in farm country." The Members wrote. "We will be working to repair those damages through other legislation; however, we also request that you pursue several items of tax policy that will help America's farmers and ranchers. In addition to being vital to the near-term health of U.S. agriculture, these items, discussed below, are sound fiscal policy, too."

Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District — which includes most of eastern, southern and central Oregon — in the U.S. House of Representatives.