On Dec. 18, President Obama signed into law an omnibus appropriations bill and a package of tax provisions, both of which include items that will impact farmers and the agricultural industry. Among other measures, the omnibus spending act repeals the mandatory country of origin labeling law, increases funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and continues funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program at current levels. Relevant tax benefits include a five-year extension of the bonus depreciation for property acquired and placed in service during 2015 through 2019. For more specifics on the agriculture-related spending and tax measures, see the USCA blog, What’s New.
Presdient Obama also signed into law the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act. The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) joined 34 agricultural organizations in a letter of support for the legislation earlier this year. It includes common-sense reforms to improve the Surface Transportation Board (STB) such as strengthening STB’s independence, improving how it functions, requiring more transparency on the status of STB proceedings and complaints brought before the agency, and providing for a voluntary arbitration process to resolve disputes involving unreasonable rail rates and practices.
Good news for biodiesel: The industry will be operating at near capacity if the 2017 biodiesel use mandate is met, reported AgWeek. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Nov. 30 announcement on Renewable Fuel Standard volumes set the domestic level of biodiesel use to 2 billion gallons a year by 2017 -- double the minimum amount required by the original law. What does this news mean to the oilseed sector? It takes a little more than 7.5 pounds of vegetable oil to produce a gallon of biodiesel, so the demand for canola may increase, depending on its price relative to other feedstocks, AgWeek noted.