The American Soybean Association (ASA) applauds Senate passage of the "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010," and urges prompt House passage of the legislation. The Senate bill makes the biodiesel tax incentive retroactive for 2010, and extends it through 2011.

The bill, which now moves on to the House for a possible vote later this week, provides for an expedited process for U.S. biodiesel producers to claim retroactive 2010 credits. In 2009, the U.S. biodiesel industry produced 545 million gallons of biodiesel. Based on August and September production levels, 2010 production is expected to be 345 million gallons, a decline of over 35% from the previous year.

"Many biodiesel plants in the U.S. are either idle or are producing at less than their overall capacity," Kemper says. "If the House does not pass this legislation, continuing absence of the biodiesel tax credit will cause further job losses and undermine our ability to increase production of domestic renewable biodiesel."

In addition to the biodiesel tax credit extension, the bill contains estate tax provisions that raise the exclusion level to $5 million/spouse and lower the tax rate on estates exceeding the exclusion to 35%. If this legislation is not passed by the House, a $1 million exclusion and 55% tax rate will take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

"With farmland in many regions selling for $5,000/acre, it takes only 200 acres to reach the $1 million exclusion level," Kemper says. The state of the U.S. economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities, makes it difficult for family owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions. Allowing estate taxes to be reinstated without an exemption and rate that protect family farms puts many operations at risk and threatens succession to the next generation of farmers.

"ASA’s farmer-leaders recently participated in a press conference on estate tax legislation, as well as a biodiesel fly-in to Washington, D.C., to gain passage of these top soybean priorities," Kemper says. "I encourage all agriculture supporters to press their representatives in the House to pass this legislation, which is of critical importance to U.S. soybean farmers."