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Commodity Communicator Weekly

November 16, 2012

U.S.- EU TRADE DEAL MUST INCLUDE AGRICULTURE. . . . .While maintaining its support for a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union, a coalition of U.S. food and agricultural organizations, of which AFBF is a member, reiterated this week that any deal must include agriculture and that the EU must address non-tariff trade barriers.  In a letter signed by 60 organizations sent to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the coalition said it is important that any FTA with the EU be comprehensive and address impediments to trade in agricultural products.  “Carried out properly, a U.S.-EU FTA would generate economic growth and create many thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic,” wrote the coalition to U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk.    

Gene Martin

LAWMAKERS RETURN TO D.C. FOR LAME DUCK SESSION. . . . .Congress is back on Capitol Hill with less than two months to agree on scheduled tax hikes and budget cuts.  Farmers and ranchers are anxious for lawmakers to act on a new, five-year farm bill, and prevent increases in death taxes and capital gains taxes.  Unless Congress acts, on Jan. 1, the estate tax exemption is slated to drop from the current $5 million to $1 million per person and the top tax rate will climb from the 35 percent in place now to 55 percent. The spousal transfer for the exemption will also disappear.  Similarly, with the new year, capital gains tax rates are scheduled to increase from the current 15 percent to 20 percent.  
 
AFBF’s FBACT Insider  Web site is the easiest way to let Congress know how critical these issues are to agriculture. On the site, you’ll find a “Tax Issues” section, as well as a section dedicated to the “2012 Farm Bill.”

Gene Martin


AFBF URGES HOUSE TO PASS RUSSIA PNTR
. . . . .The American Farm Bureau Federation this week urged the House of Representatives to pass legislation granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia. The House is scheduled to vote on Russia PNTR this week. Russia formally joined the World Trade Organization in August. But, PNTR for Russia must be enacted by Congress in order to guarantee U.S. access to the market-opening and legal aspects that are part of the Russia-WTO agreement.  “Russia PNTR is a critical step toward ensuring the U.S. benefits from Russia’s accession to the WTO and remains competitive in that market,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “U.S. farmers will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia’s commitment not to raise tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply international food safety standards in a uniform and transparent manner.”
 
AFBF news release           
 
Gene Martin



CONGRESS IGNORING MINIMUM TAX FIX THREATENS TAXPAYERS. . . . .Unless Congress takes action by Dec. 1 to prevent expansion of the alternative minimum tax, 28 million taxpayers, including many farmers and ranchers, will face higher tax liability for 2012. The Internal Revenue Service estimates the unexpected tax liability to total $92 billion.  About 60 million taxpayers would be forced to file their taxes later, because the IRS would need time to reprogram its computer systems. March 2013 or even later might be the earliest affected taxpayers could file.   Reuters article     
 
Gene Martin

ANRC SETS STATE WATER PLAN MEETINGS. . . . .Arkansans will have an opportunity this month to discuss what they think are important water issues in the Natural State and how state agencies should address those issues in an update to the state's 25-year-old water plan. The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission will host a series of public meetings this month across the state aimed at answering questions about the plan and receiving feedback from residents. "ANRC needs the cooperation and support of all of our citizens, our various water use sectors, and our political and business leaders to ensure a successful update to the Arkansas Water Plan by November 2014," agency officials said in a press release announcing the meetings.  "Water grows the food we eat, nourishes our bodies, and supports our businesses, industries, and overall economy. Water is equally vital to our natural environment, fisheries, wildlife, and recreation opportunities," said Randy Young, ANRC's director. "I invite all Arkansans to join me in charting our path forward for the wise and efficient use, management, and development of our precious water resources."

MEETING DATES
Tuesday, Nov. 27 - 6:30-8 p.m., Arkansas Department of Health Auditorium. 4815 W. Markham St., Little Rock.
Thursday, Nov. 29 - 6:30-8 p.m., Conference Center. 311 S. West Ave, El Dorado.
To find out about the plan, visit http://www.arwaterplan.arkansas.gov.

Or for additional information, contact:
Edward Swaim, ANRC Water Resources Division Manager
Email: edward.swaim@arkansas.gov
Phone: (501) 682-3979

Evan Teague
 

BEEF EXPORTS STAY POSITIVE. . . . .Through the first nine months of 2012, U.S. beef export volumes are lagging below the record level posted last year; however, by value, these exports continue to increase over year ago levels. So far this year the value of beef exports represent $213.63 per head on all cattle processed in the U.S.  The top five markets for U.S. beef are:  Canada, Japan, Mexico, Middle East and South Korea.

Travis Justice


FARM BUREAU VEHICLE PURCHASE PROGRAM
. . . . . Members now have a better way to buy a new or used vehicle through this easy to use program.  Benefits include in-depth price reports, target prices, estimated values and certified dealers.  The $500 GM incentive for members is already built into the system for qualifying vehicles.  Complete details at www.FBVerify.com/Drive

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