October 5, 2007
October 5, 2007 - The Senate Finance Committee marked up the tax provisions of the next Farm Bill on Thursday. Under the leadership of Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.), the markup successfully included the necessary revenue to help pay for the Farm Bill and provides for a permanent agriculture disaster program. This is the first time a tax title has been considered as a part of a Farm Bill. The package also includes a tax credit for companies to develop and label pharmaceuticals for sheep and other species defined as 'minor' for this purpose.
"Congress needs to come through for America's farmers and ranchers with disaster assistance, tax relief and other provisions that make sense for the agriculture sector today," said Sen. Baucus. "The hard work and sacrifice of our agricultural producers should not go unnoticed or unrewarded, and this package aims to recognize the realities farming folks face today."
"The tax title with the permanent disaster provision is critical for sheep producers," stated Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "2005 and 2006 saw very tough drought conditions across much of sheep country; however, it took us three years to get assistance available, so the permanent provision of the Senate Finance version ought to make financial assistance timely for producers."
Orwick added appreciation for the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), a finance committee member for the permanent disaster program.
The proposal requires farmers and ranchers to purchase crop insurance in order to be eligible for disaster assistance. It allows producers to know that when weather related disasters strike, a dependable safety net exists.
ASI is grateful to Sen. Baucus for also securing the tax credit for pharmaceuticals. This will help sheep producers compete by providing access to needed animal products, some of which are already approved overseas. Because of lower sales volume in the United States, companies have chosen not to label for U.S. production.
"ASI has worked since last January to seek inclusion of a tax credit to pharmaceutical companies for the development of drugs for minor species," concluded Orwick. "When the Minor Use Minor Species legislation was adopted by Congress several years ago, one component that didn't make the cut was the tax credit, which ASI leaders believed was important to encourage companies to get involved in sheep medicines. We are very pleased the chairman was able to accommodate this provision." Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33