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Behind every golden-brown turkey, every candied yam and every scrumptious apple pie is an American farmer who, incidentally, could use a little help when lawmakers return from Thanksgiving.
The National Turkey Foundation, the U.S. Sweet Potato Council and the U.S. Apple Association were among dozens of agricultural industry groups that sent a letter last week to Congress seeking action on a host of temporary tax provisions that expired at the end of 2014. Commonly known as tax extenders, the provisions are often allowed to expire at the end of the year only to be retroactively restored months later, leaving businesses that depend on them mired in uncertainty in the interim.
That includes farmers and agricultural businesses of every variety. Others on the letter include the National Pork Producers Council, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, and the National Peach Council. In other words, the folks responsible for our spiral hams, warm rolls, creamed corn and peach cobbler all depend on tax extenders, too.
Oh, and let’s not forget about those (blissfully stretchy) sweatpants many of us will change into after the feast -- because the National Cotton Council signed the letter, too.
"Farmers and ranchers like myself rely on a stable and predictable tax code in order to plan purchases, make investments, and grow their businesses," Philip Ellis, the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (another letter signee), said in a statement last week. "Each year producers make significant financial determinations, and Congress' failure to act on permanent tax reform has placed greater reliance on extender legislation over the past few years."
In the letter, the groups called on lawmakers to either make permanent or at least renew for several years the currently expired tax extenders, including Section 179 expensing, which allows businesses to immediately write off big purchases like machinery. By doing so, the rule encourages small farms and food producers to invest back into their businesses, increase output and create jobs.
“We are concerned that the failure to renew these expired provisions of the tax code will place additional burdens on farm and ranch families who are asset-rich and cash-poor and already face the uncertainties of weather, market prices and international competition,” the letter states. The groups added that “failing to act soon will cause even more uncertainty for the agriculture industry.”
So while we give due thanks to America’s beloved turkey farmers, yam growers and apple orchard owners this week, let’s not forget about them once the calendar turns to December. They, along with millions of U.S. businesses in other industries, need lawmakers to take swift action on tax extenders.