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Delaware County’s Zack Taylor sees growing optimism in D.C.

SEE VIDEO: Farm Bureau trip focuses on trade, ag issues

First Posted: 10:26 am - April 11th, 2017 - Views

By Gary Brock - gbrock@civitasmedia.com



Gary Brock photo Meeting in Rep. Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) Longworth Building office in Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 15, were, left to right, Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor, farmer Luke Wittmer of Richland County, farmer Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds, farmer Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County, and senior legislative assistant Michael McLean representing Rep. Tiberi.
Gary Brock photo Meeting in Rep. Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) Longworth Building office in Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 15, were, left to right, Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor, farmer Luke Wittmer of Richland County, farmer Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds, farmer Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County, and senior legislative assistant Michael McLean representing Rep. Tiberi.
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Source: Gary Brock video/Rural Life Today

Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor talks about his trip to Washington D.C. this past week to talk about farm issues and the new Trump administration, which he feels “optimistic” about.

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By Gary Brock

gbrock@civitasmedia.com

WASHINGTON D.C. — Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor and 72 other Ohio farmers found something unexpected during their three-day Farm Bureau trip to Washington D.C. this 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 a representative of 12th District Rep. Pat Tiberi, 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 long term to 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 Tiberi’s (R-12th) senior legislative assistant Michael McLean. He was joined in Rep. Tiberi’s office in the 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 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 Washington D.C. 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.”

Two issues dominated the three days of meetings and discussion – one very expected but the other a surprise. One was the impact of trade on Ohio farmers and the risks they face. This issue has been on every Ohio farmer’s mind since the new administration took power and President Trump signed an executive order overturning the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the other issue was much closer to home – the epidemic of opioid addition claiming the lives of many in rural Ohio.

Trade worries

On the issue of trade, which is vital in Ohio with millions of tons of Ohio agriculture products going to countries such as Mexico, China, Japan and Canada, the Ohio farmers heard first from former Ohio State University agriculture economist Matt Roberts, who expressed concern about the possibility of tough times ahead with China.

Roberts said that if we do have an actual trade war break out, we will see tariffs, “that is normal. We talk about a trade war, it is not normally an oil embargo or a grain embargo. It is normally a 10 percent tariff, or it is a 15 percent tariff. The problem with this is that most of these products, we are competing in a world market to supply them. So if there is a 10 percent embargo imposed against us and not against Brazil, that means we have got to meet that price to get China’s business,” he pointed out.

“I think that should be terrifying to the agriculture community.”

He said that for the first time, “I see us in agriculture at serious political risk. I see us with significant trade impediments. I am not a trade specialist, but you don’t have to be to understand a trade war. When these trade wars break out, countries target sensitive crops to retaliate against.

“To me, soybeans make a very attractive target. The thought is China can’t stop buying soybeans, but they don’t need to … they can place a tariff on them and then we are competing against Brazilian soybeans. We would have an additional tax that they don’t. History shows that for the first few years producers would eat that additional tax,” he said.

“I hope cooler heads will prevail, but this is where we are at. These are public negotiating tactics. Hopefully that is all we are seeing.”

NOTE: To see complete report on Matt Roberts’ comments on trade and the ag economy, see additional article in this edition.

In talking with the farmers, Sen. Rob Portman pointed out that the United States has trade agreements with about 10 percent of the world. “The countries we do have trade agreements with are about 10 percent of the world’s GDP. We don’t have trade agreements with China or Japan. Yet, we send 47 percent of our exports to that 10 percent of the world.”

He said that with the rest of the world combined, we have a substantial trade deficit — moe than $500 billion. “We have the opportunity to expand exports that are good trade agreements. With bad trade agreements, obviously we shouldn’t sign them. We have got to be very careful not to say that the problem with trade deficits is trade agreements. The biggest deficit we have is with China, and we don’t have a trade agreement them.”

With trade agreements we have the opportunity to open the markets more, he added. That is part of the current debate in Washington. “Particularly in Ohio we need to maintain a level playing field in trade.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown said he knew a lot of farm groups were not happy about President Trump pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. But he has publicly supported this action.

“I look to the new trade representative to enforce trade laws, understanding that good trade policy with good enforcement means we can sell our goods overseas and it is a level playing field,” he told the Ohio farmers. “We will see steel, for instance, one of the most important industries in Ohio, treated fairly internationally because China will not have to cheat and subsidize their steal and sell into our market. The right trade representative with the right sensitivities and sensibilities to being good for rural America.”

Problems back in rural Ohio

The problem of drug addiction in rural Ohio wasn’t intended as a major topic for the Ohio farmers while they were in Washington, but it came up repeatedly. Both Ohio senators were worried that treatment funding through Medicaid and Obamacare could be cut.

Brown pointed out that the Sunday before the Washington D.C. meetings, the New York Times ran a lengthy article about a Clinton/Clermont County family where several members had died from a drug overdose.

“Ohio is first in the nation in opioid deaths. It is something we have got to get way more serious about,” Brown said.

“Senator Portman and Gov. Kasich have joined on the Affordable Care Act – the one thing they have joined me on in this is making sure that the 700,000 in Ohio receiving treatment through the Affordable Care Act continue to receive treatment. These are people making 8-10 an hour and do not have insurance. But 200,000 people who have insurance through the Affordable Care Act are getting treatment because they have the insurance,” Brown said.

“We have got to make sure we can scale up our treatment centers. There are not enough centers. There are waiting lists at the treatment centers.”

NOTE: For expanded coverage, see additional article on this topic in this month’s Rural Life Today.

Portman said the expanded Medicaid coverage helps those in treatment, “and without it they would have no other options. The last thing we want is to have less treatment in Ohio.”

Portman added that, “I can almost assure that in your county that if you talk to law enforcement they will tell you that this is the number one cause of crime in your county. Theft, fraud, shoplifting and robbery … people are trying to pay for their habit. It is the number one cause of crime in Ohio.”

He said Ohioans have to deal with this issue. “We have to get our young people to have a different frame of mind about this It is in every zip code and every age group. It is a very sad issue. It tears our families apart. We have our work cut out for us. It is such a tragic situation.”

When meeting with the Ohio farmers Speaker of the House Ryan talked more about health care than international trade.

“Obamacare is a terrible law, and is collapsing under its own weight; increase in costs, increase in premiums. We have a plan to repeal and replace it,” he promised.

He called the repeal and replace plan “Unprecedented, and that is why there is such anxiety. Expansion of plans will help farmers to get their own insurance from groups like the Farm Bureau. We then go on to tax reform.” He discussed the issues of tax rate and the death tax. “We need to get the tax rate down and abolish the estate tax. We want you to be able to pass on your farm, for your family to see their dreams of remaining on the farm.”

Ryan thanked the farmers for being in Washington. “Be here to share your ideas, telling your stories and share your concerns.”

Gary Brock is editor of Civitas Media’s monthly farming/agriculture publication Rural Life Today. He can be reached at 937-556-5759.

Gary Brock photo Meeting in Rep. Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) Longworth Building office in Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 15, were, left to right, Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor, farmer Luke Wittmer of Richland County, farmer Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds, farmer Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County, and senior legislative assistant Michael McLean representing Rep. Tiberi.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/04/web1_taylor-2.jpgGary Brock photo Meeting in Rep. Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) Longworth Building office in Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 15, were, left to right, Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor, farmer Luke Wittmer of Richland County, farmer Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds, farmer Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County, and senior legislative assistant Michael McLean representing Rep. Tiberi.

Gary Brock photo Meeting in Rep. Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) Longworth Building office in Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 15, were, left to right, Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor, farmer Luke Wittmer of Richland County, farmer Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds, farmer Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County, and senior legislative assistant Michael McLean representing Rep. Tiberi.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/04/web1_zack-taylor1.jpgGary Brock photo Meeting in Rep. Patrick Tiberi’s (R-12th) Longworth Building office in Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 15, were, left to right, Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor, farmer Luke Wittmer of Richland County, farmer Jennifer Cox of Muskingum County, Delaware County OSU Extension Agent Robert Leeds, farmer Karl Wedemeyer of Marion County, and senior legislative assistant Michael McLean representing Rep. Tiberi.
SEE VIDEO: Farm Bureau trip focuses on trade, ag issues

By Gary Brock

gbrock@civitasmedia.com

Gary Brock is editor of Civitas Media’s monthly farming/agriculture publication Rural Life Today. He can be reached at 937-556-5759.

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Video Caption: Delaware County farmer Zachary Taylor talks about his trip to Washington D.C. this past week to talk about farm issues and the new Trump administration, which he feels “optimistic” about.

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Rural Life Today

Gary Brock is editor of Civitas Media’s monthly farming/agriculture publication Rural Life Today. He can be reached at 937-556-5759.