As the second largest employer in Minnesota, the agriculture and food industry is vital not only in feeding the people of Minnesota but in providing them with a good profession. In Congress I will do all  that I can to ensure American agriculture stays competitive in international markets by easing the burdens of over-taxation and overregulation that the government places on America’s producers.

First and foremost, we need to reduce the taxes paid by farmers and ranchers so that they have more money to invest and improve the efficiency of their operations.

Estate taxes should be eliminated permanently. Estate taxes charged on the transfer of land, buildings, and equipment often exceed cash a family has on hand, forcing them to sell land to pay these taxes. They only account for 1% of federal revenues and estimates say they cost more in lost growth than is gained in tax receipts. When a loved one passes away, the last thing a family needs to think about is paying a tax bill to keep their farm running.

Capital gains taxes are another area where reform is needed. These taxes on things such as the sale of buildings and breeding livestock make it difficult for producers to upgrade and adapt their operations to changing market demands. At a minimum, we should freeze the capital gains taxes to help farm and ranch businesses improve productivity and remain competitive.

Second, I will oppose any regulation that is expected to result in any net cost to farmers and ranchers in the short or long term until it is carefully studied and rewritten to fully mitigate any negative economic impact.

The cap-and-trade bill for which Congressman Oberstar voted will cripple Minnesota agriculture. I will oppose any legislation that imposes mandatory cap-and-trade provisions or any carbon tax on farmers and ranchers. Even if agricultural carbon output isn’t capped, the energy taxes contained in this legislation will put our farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage in international markets. Further, the $.94 increase per gallon of diesel will make the cost of transporting goods outrageous.

In addition, Congressman Oberstar is attempting to overhaul the Clean Water Act of 1972 with a water bill of his own that will greatly increase the scope of the federal government’s power. This will allow federal regulation of “activities affecting” bodies of water including ditches, farm and stock ponds, and prior converted cropland. This unprecedented overreach of power will create a maze of red tape and untold costs for our farmers and ranchers. I will insist that any changes to the CWA maintain the term “navigable waters” and keep regulation in check.

Finally, no one knows better than our farmers and ranchers how to properly care for their livestock. Powerful lobbying groups are more concerned with their radical agenda than they are with the animals themselves. Common sense regulation is needed, but I will oppose lobbying efforts by extremist groups that try to impose ridiculous rules for our farmers and ranchers who depend on and spend immeasurable time caring for their animals.

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