Boswell talks about Farm Bill & partisan bickering in Congress


March 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell was in Atlantic this (Friday) morning, where he held one of several planned public “Listening Posts on Agriculture.”

Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-IA) listens to a constituent speak at the Atlantic Public Library Friday morning

The session took place before a crowd of a little more than a dozen people, and while it was designed to gain input as preparations are made to craft the next farm bill, it also covered several issues of concern to area residents, including the Inheritance, or “Death Tax,” affordable health care, and what can be done to stop the partisan bickering in Congress. Boswell said “This is a challenging time in the history of this County,” and there are a lot of issues that need attention. One of those concerns, he says, is the Farm Bill, which will come up for a vote this Fall. Boswell says discussion on the bill is one of the few instances where partisan politics were set aside, but didn’t to get anywhere because the “Super Committee” tasked with cutting the budget failed to act.

Regardless, he thinks there will be an agreement on a Farm Bill that will meet with approval of the full Congress.” Of concern though, he says, is a “Safety Net” for farmers, which basically comes down now, to crop insurance. He says crops insurance needs to be affordable and accessible, and available. He also warned Direct Payments to farmers and producers will likely go away. The cuts, he says, will have reduced the bill by about 23-billion dollars, but before any more cuts are made, agencies other than the USDA will have to make sacrifices before any further action is taken on addition cuts to the bill.

The inheritance, or “Death Tax,” cuts set in-place during the first Bush Administration, and is set to expire at the end of this year, was a hot topic at the meeting. One of those in attendance proposed eliminating it entirely on land, if the land will be used for the same purpose the person who passed away used it for. The unidentified man said if the land is used for anything other than what is was formally used for, the person receiving that land should pay the taxes owed, because they’ve changed the use of the land. The same thing he said, could apply to small, family-owned businesses. Boswell said that was an “interesting idea,” but didn’t say whether he would mention it when Congress acts on the Obama Administration’s 2013 budget, which by some accounts, calls for $2-Trillion in new taxes and fees.

Boswell says he hopes Congress can work together to compromise on the budget and other matters. He says work on the Farm Bill has been “very bi-partisan” up to this point, but he blamed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Republican “Contract with America” for much of the partisan bickering that has occurred over the years, and divided the Country.