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AVMA to Supreme Court: Level the playing field between veterinarians and online retailers

AVMA | Posted on December 7, 2017

The AVMA has joined an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to level the playing field between online retailers and veterinarians by requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes.The brief, filed in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, notes the impact of the case on veterinarians and asks the court to require online businesses to collect sales tax.Online retailers without an on-the-ground presence don’t currently have to collect sales tax because of a 1992 Supreme Court decision, Quill v. North Dakota. Instead of sales tax being collected and remitted by retailers, individuals are supposed to remit the sales taxes they owe for online purchases themselves. This system does not work as intended.The South Dakota state legislature passed a state law in opposition to this ruling, requiring companies that do more than $100,000 worth of business in online sales in the state to collect sales taxes. Wayfair, an American company that sells home goods online, challenged the state law. The case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where its outcome will decide whether online retailers can be required to collect sales tax.

'Holy crap': Experts find tax plan riddled with glitches

Politico | Posted on December 7, 2017

Republicans’ tax-rewrite plans are riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law.Some of the provisions could be easily gamed, tax lawyers say. Their plans to cut taxes on “pass-through” businesses in particular could open broad avenues for tax avoidance.Others would have unintended results, like a last-minute decision by the Senate to keep the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to make sure wealthy people and corporations don't escape taxes altogether. For many businesses, that would nullify the value of a hugely popular break for research and development expenses.Some provisions are so vaguely written they leave experts scratching their heads, like a proposal to begin taxing the investment earnings of rich private universities’ endowments. The legislation H.R. 1 (115) doesn’t explain what’s considered an endowment, and some colleges have more than 1,000 accounts.

What Does Trade Mean to Your Bottom Line

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on December 5, 2017

Henderson pointed out that, when ag exports increase, the farm economy does better, thus good trade deals are important to the economic prosperity of U.S. farmers. Yet, a good NAFTA deal is more than just continued tariff-free access to Canada and Mexico for U.S. corn and soybeans, “We are going to have some segments of U.S. agriculture like the poultry and dairy sectors, that are going to have a different perspective on trade with Canada and Mexico that corn and soybean growers.”  U.S. dairy and poultry producers say the current NAFTA deal is unfair to their industry.

USDA’s new Innovation Center, and its new chief, face big challenges

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 5, 2017

Anne Hazlett, who oversees Rural Development at USDA, wants to get the word out that RD’s new Innovation Center will soon be open for business, with a new executive at the helm and a long list of challenges to face, including the opioid epidemic that’s been devastating rural communities. In an interview Thursday with Agri-Pulse, Hazlett (pictured above) introduced Gina Sheets, who served as director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture under then Governor Mike Pence, as the new Chief Innovation Officer. Sheets says her team, which is still being organized, will be working to “streamline and modernize” the delivery of the 40 or so services Rural Development provides to rural communities.

Despite lawmakers' warnings, few Iowa farmers face estate tax

Des Moines Register | Posted on December 4, 2017

If the tax reform packages that have now passed the U.S. House and Senate become law, at least one thing appears likely: The federal estate tax will be slashed and perhaps eliminated altogether. That will represent a victory for Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation, who have consistently opposed the tax and argued it unfairly lumps in the state’s farmers with some of the country’s richest families.But a review of federal tax data and nonpartisan research on the subject shows that family farmers and small business owners represent a tiny share of estate tax payers, and that the taxes they owe rarely force them to sell land or quit farming.The number of Iowans paying the estate tax actually numbers in the dozens each year, out of roughly 1.4 million who file federal tax returns each year. IRS data from the last five years shows the number of Iowa taxpayers owing estate taxes ranged from 32 in 2012 to 61 in 2015, and that the vast majority of those probably were not farmers or small business owners.

FDA Working to Address Concerns About Regulation of Human Food By-products Used for Animal Food

FDA | Posted on December 4, 2017

The FDA is committed to working with industry to address concerns about the regulation of human food by-products used for animal food, and is considering approaches that balance practical and public health considerations. Several sectors of the food industry have expressed concern about having to meet preventive controls requirements under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for certain activities commonly performed to facilitate the storage and transportation of these by-products.

USDA Cutbacks Include Decommissioning Brucellosis Studies

TSLN | Posted on December 4, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's plans to decommission brucellosis field studies is in direct conflict of a recent study that concluded that brucellosis is spreading in wildlife, and more research is needed, not less, in both elk and bison.

EPA, Army propose two-year delay of WOTUS

Farm Futures | Posted on December 4, 2017

The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army are proposing to delay the effective date of the Waters of the U.S. rule by two years. The 2015 rule, which redefined the scope of where the Clean Water Act applies, had an effective date of Aug. 28, 2015. Implementation of the 2015 rule is on hold as a result of the Sixth Circuit’s nationwide stay of the rule, but that stay may be affected by a pending Supreme Court case. The 2015 rule is also stayed in 13 states due to a North Dakota district court ruling. EPA and the Army are taking this action to provide certainty and consistency to the regulated community.

EPA leaves biodiesel alone, raises cellulosic volume

DTN | Posted on December 2, 2017

Despite a major push from the Midwest to bolster Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for biomass-based diesel and cellulosic ethanol, in the end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency left its final numbers released on Thursday virtually untouched from the original proposal. Though the biodiesel industry pressed President Donald Trump's administration for higher biomass-based diesel volumes above the proposed 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, the EPA left that number unchanged. The agency originally proposed a cut, while the industry wanted the number set at 2.5 billion gallons.The EPA's final biomass-based diesel numbers came as a huge disappointment to an industry that maintains it has the capacity to produce 2.6 billion gallons. Corn ethanol blending requirements were set at 15 billion gallons for 2018, with overall biofuel blending obligations slightly higher overall, based on the final RFS volumes announced. Fifteen billion gallons of corn ethanol amounts to about 5.4 billion bushels of corn demand supported by the RFS.The overall total Renewable Volume Obligation, or RVO, for 2018 was set at 19.29 billion gallons. That represents a slight bump from the original proposal of 19.28 billion gallons. The agency had considered cutting the number to 19.24 billion gallons. The bump comes from a slight increase in the advanced biofuels volumes.

Letter: Stop using farmers like me to sell flawed tax reform bill

Ag Week | Posted on December 2, 2017

Whether Republican or Democrat, most of us agree that tax reform and simplification is necessary. However, as is often the case, those supporting a piece of legislation overstate their talking points. As a farmer, I felt that I had to respond to those politicians who use farmers like me as the reason why the estate tax should be eliminated. The fact of the matter is the tax affects very few family farmers and ranchers in North Dakota, or in any state for that matter.Listening to the political talking points used to sell the latest House of Representatives tax reform bill, including those from Rep. Kevin Cramer, the estate tax is a tremendous burden on the average family farmer or rancher — but that's just not the case.Given the exemptions of nearly $5.5 million per person and almost $11 million for a couple, the vast majority of estates are not affected by the so called "death tax." Last year, according to the IRS, fewer than 10 estates in North Dakota were required to pay the tax — any family farm or small business worth less than that is exempt. Looking through the smoke and mirrors, we can see that the tax bill Cramer helped the House pass is detrimental to middle-class North Dakotans, including farmers. It gives massive handouts to the wealthier Americans, with few benefits for workers and retirees.