CFB Members Call on Congress

8 CFB members on Monday traveled to Washington D.C. to speak with Colorado’s congressional delegation about  upcoming issues of concern to Farm Bureau members. Member’s worries about GHG regulation, the cow tax, the death tax, immigration and labor, and changes to the RMA program were all brought to the table amid a flurry of meetings with nearly all of Colorado’s legislators and two different regulatory agencies.

After a quick briefing with AFBF policy staff on Tuesday morning, the members went to the hill to speak with legislators in 6 different meetings.

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The overall feeling on the hill was one of exhaustion. Several legislators spoke of the lack of political will to press any large scale legislation in the near future and all expressed their high level of burnout following the passage of Obamacare. The results of the meetings were mixed. Members felt their concerns were genuinely heard by some legislators, but not by others.

“I wish they would at least lie consistently,” said a frustrated Ron Nereson after one such meeting. “It’s discouraging, but it makes you realize how important it is for us to come and meet with them.”

Mr. Nereson found a much more responsive legislator at the next appointment. Rep. John Salazar was ready to do what he could to help Colorado Ag in the coming months.

“I really want to work with you all,” said Salazar. “It’s important for you to tell me what the issues are for you.”

Mr. Salazar was excited when members raised their concerns with the estate tax. Farm Bureau is pushing for exemption limits of $5 million per person and a 35% top tax rate, compared to the default rate of 55% planned for next year. Due to a legislative loophole the estate tax is not in effect in 2010. In 2011, without congressional action, the tax will return to higher levels than last year.

Salazar’s office is working on legislation that would exempt Ag land from the tax as long as it remains in production.

Carlyle Currier left the meeting with Salazar feeling much better, “It’s not a complete fix,” he said. “But it’s a start.”

While in the district, members also met with officials from the EPA and USDA. They returned on Wednesday evening.

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