Hagel Re-Introduces Legislation to Help Nebraska's Rural Communities and Livestock Producers
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) re-introduced two pieces of legislation today to help Nebraska's rural communities and livestock producers. The "Rural Economic Investment Act" will increase competition in the rural agriculture loan market by providing rural community banks with a greater agricultural lending incentive. The "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) Tax Credit Act" provides a tax credit that will help livestock producers meet the costs of complying with Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Hagel introduced similar pieces of legislation in past Congresses. Representative Adrian Smith (NE-03) will introduce companion legislation for the "CAFO Tax Credit Act" in the House of Representatives.
"Fair competition and addressing the effects of costly government regulation are critical in providing more opportunities for businesses and individuals in Nebraska's rural agricultural communities. These two pieces of legislation will help Nebraska's rural communities and livestock producers compete in the 21st Century marketplace," Hagel said.
The "Rural Economic Investment Act" would give rural banks the same tax exempt benefits afforded to the Farm Credit System. It would allow the income on qualified agriculture loans originated by any rural bank to be tax free. Qualified loans would include a loan on any agricultural land or on a principal residence located in a rural area of fewer than 2,500 people.
"The Rural Economic Investment Act' would not only help rural banks compete, but will help our rural communities survive. This legislation takes appropriate steps to level the playing field for rural banks by removing disadvantages they face when competing with the government sponsored Farm Credit System (FCS) for agriculture loans," Hagel said.
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are sites at which large numbers of animals are housed and fed. The EPA has ruled that CAFOs which discharge into U.S. waterways must obtain a discharge permit, and control material that enters those waterways by July 31, 2007. Livestock producers incur large costs in applying for the discharge permits and modifying their operations to comply with EPA regulations. The "CAFO Tax Credit Act" provides a tax credit to producers who undertake the corrective measures to control the discharges.
"Complying with EPA's CAFO regulations is going to cost money, and small and mid-size producers in Nebraska will be especially hard hit. This legislation provides a significant tax credit to offset the cost of compliance. There is no debate on the need to control discharges into waterways. However, EPA has once again regulated industry without considering the costs. This common-sense legislation addresses this reality," Hagel concluded.