Despite the omnibus spending bill not including legislation to stop the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule, the American Farm Bureau calls the bill an “overall win” for Agriculture. The House was expected to take up the omnibus bill Thursday or Friday. Farm Bureau expressed disappointment that Congress did not include WOTUS legislation in the bill, however, see the repeal of country-of-origin meat labeling and tax provisions as a positive step for agriculture. Repeal of COOL would effectively prevent Canada and Mexico from initiating retaliatory actions that are allowed by the World Trade Organization. In contrast to Farm Bureau, the National Corn Growers said the bill falls short for America’s farmers. NCGA says the bill leaves important issues unaddressed, such as WOTUS, GMO labeling and addressing the Reid Vapor Pressure standards to provide relief to the ethanol sector. Both Farm Bureau and NCGA applauded the tax extender package, which is expected to be later combined with the Omnibus bill and gives agriculture critical tools in Section 179 small business expensing and bonus depreciation. Section 179 was made permanent at the $500,000 level. Under the tax extenders package, bonus depreciation was extended for 5-years.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway says the bill does make an attempt to block EPA overreach. The bill contains no funding for new or expanded EPA programs, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989. Yet the EPA said last week it’s reached its highest staffing level in recent years at the 15,000 employee mark for 2016. The Texas Republican also says the bill prohibits the EPA from slapping greenhouse gas emission regulations on livestock producers. Conaway says the bill will rein in misguided dietary guidelines by blocking guidelines that have little or nothing to do with dietary and nutrition science. The bill also ends the 40-year old oil export ban.