OTTAWA — Spencer Waugh is optimistic Congress will be able to pass a new farm bill in 2013.
Waugh, with the Ohio Farm Bureau public policy department, was the guest speaker Tuesday night at the membership kickoff meeting of the Putnam County Farm Bureau. During his presentation, he updated members on the extension of the current farm bill and how the “fiscal cliff” budget would affect them in 2013.
“We knew it would be hard to get a new farm bill approved in 2012 because of the upcoming election and uncertainty about the upcoming administration,” Waugh said.
Waugh, speaking at the new Putnam County Agriculture Service Complex in Ottawa, said there has been an extension through Sept. 30 for most provisions of the 2008 bill. Although the bill authorizes money for livestock indemnity payments, the livestock forage disaster program and emergency assistance for livestock, Waugh said, no funding for these programs has been authorized. That's up to congressional appropriation committees.
“While we would expect many provisions to be very similar to the legislation passed by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees in the summer of 2012, some things will very likely change when the Congressional Budget Office comes out with its new scoring of costs in early March,” Waugh said.
He said the American Farm Bureau and Ohio Farm Bureau were pleased that 95 percent of federal and state officials they considered “farm-friendly” were elected to office in November.
Waugh said the American Farm Bureau supports many parts of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, often referred to as the “fiscal cliff budget," including:
• The estate tax exemption: now $5 million per person indexed for inflation, with any unused amount allowed to transfer to a spouse. Waugh said the maximum rate will increase to 40 percent, up from 35 percent.
• The capital gains taxes provision: The top rate will be 15 percent for taxpayers making less than $400,000 for a single person and $450,000 for a couple.
• Income tax brackets and the alternative minimum tax exemptions for 2012.
Waugh also said the Ohio Farm Bureau will be watching Gov. John Kasich’s budget closely to make sure it has line items for career technical education and other farm-related items.