WASHINGTON — Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor and 72 other Ohio farmers found something unexpected during their three-day Farm Bureau trip last week — optimism for the future.
After meeting with an array of Washington D.C. “movers and shakers” including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, political analyst Randy Russell, a trade representative with the government of Mexico, Agriculture Committee member Bob Gibbs of Ohio, and representative of his own 12th District, Taylor was happy with what he heard and learned.
“I’m pretty optimistic about the new administration. It seems like they are more willing to work with us on things like regulations and taxes. Who couldn’t gain from reductions in regulations and taxes?” he said.
“When you’re trying to build a business and a farm, I think all of this is very positive in the long term for the health and wellness of the farming community for generations to come. It’s been very positive here in Washington. I’m very pleased because everyone here that we have heard and spoken to have been very optimistic and it sounds like this administration will be a lot easier to work with than the last one,” Taylor said.
He said it appears the message the Trump administration and Congress are getting across is that the new administration is very willing to work with farmers in order to help them succeed in their businesses and farms.
The trip, sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau, was the 71st time Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents or designates from across Ohio have traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby elected and appointed officials on issues they feel are important to Ohio farmers.
On the final day of the trip, Taylor met with Congressman Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) senior legislative assistant Michael McLean. He was joined in Rep. Tiberi’s office in the Wednesday meeting by Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds who was on the trip representing the Ohio Joint Council of Extension Professionals; Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Luke Wittmer of Richland County, and Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County.
All of the farmers raised issues that they wanted to see Rep. Tiberi address or be made aware of.
Leeds told McLean about the need for tax reform and the issue of “basis” tax.
“For our farm, my dad took over the farm and didn’t increase the ‘step to basis.’ It is still $100 an acre. The ground is probably valued at $7-$8,000 an acre so if we had to pay that capital gains, we would probably have to pay $300,000 or more, and that’s a lot to keep it in the family,” said Taylor. “There are very few farms that are over that $5 million exemption.”
“We are taking something that is exempt and being taxed,” Leeds pointed out.
In Delaware County, Taylor said, there was an issue of “swapping ground.” He said there were developers who were, instead of taking money for the land, the developer will offer another piece of ground for the farmer. And the farmer or developer would pay the difference, and we would still get taxed on it.
This is going to affect a lot of people in the future, Taylor said.
Leeds also asked that “you just get rid of all the doggone paperwork” from Washington D.C.
What were highlights of the trip for Taylor?
“The conversations I’ve had with other farmers across the state and their optimism, as well. We’ve all dealt with higher taxes and we are all in the same business and we are all fighting for the same thing. The last couple of years have beat us up pretty bad. It just shows you the strength and solidarity of the agriculture community.”
Taylor was asked why it is important for the rural community, farmers especially, to go to the nation’s capital themselves and make their case for issues important to them.
“It is important because we need these senators and congressmen to be fighting for us. As farmers, we don’t want regulations to be getting in the way of us making a living. I have a family at home and I want to see them grow up and do the same thing that I got to do. I want to continue my father’s and great-grandfather’s legacy,” Taylor said.
“It’s just very important that we get our message out here to these politicians. Hopefully they are on our side when writing the regulations and the 2018 Farm Bill. That way we can continue to feed the world,” he added. “We just have to keep pushing and getting our message out there.”
Taylor said that,” Just listening to the speakers with their opinions and forecasts for how things will go down the next few years, it’s been very upbeat — that’s a great feeling. I’ll go back (to Delaware County) and do what I have been doing with a lot more optimism now.”