Two recent communications from high-profile farm groups are urging their members to contact legislators now to pass laws that have long stalled in the halls of Congress, but would benefit farmers if passed. The 111th Congress begins its “lame duck” session this week after adjourning Sept. 30.

Take for example, the American Soybean Association (ASA), which places top priority on extending the biodiesel tax credit. “Expiration of the biodiesel tax incentive on Dec. 31, 2009, has resulted in lost production and jobs,” notes ASA in an Oct. 11, 2010 Action Alert. “The situation is likely to worsen if the credit is not extended.”

ASA’s second priority on its legislative wish list is passing an estate tax bill that contains at least a “$3.5 million exclusion and a 45% tax rate.” If Congress fails to act to by year’s end, the estate tax will be reinstated “with an exclusion amount of $1.0 million and a tax rate of 55%,” ASA officials point out.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) also places a high priority on passing estate tax relief in addition “to preserving capital gains tax breaks and extending other important tax provisions,” according to a Nov. 12 press release, which calls for a $5 million estate tax exemption and top estate tax rate of 35%.

“No matter is more pressing for our nation’s farmers and ranchers than prompt passage of legislation that extends tax provisions that expired in 2009 or are set to expire at the end of this year,” wrote Bob Stallman, AFBF president, in a letter sent last week to President Barack Obama. “A $1 million exemption is not high enough to protect a typical farm or ranch able to support a family. When coupled with a top rate of 55%, it can be especially difficult for farm and ranch businesses.”

I heartily agree with both ASA and AFBF in urging you to call or write your current legislators during this lame duck session and asking them to pass both an extension to the biodiesel tax credit and estate tax relief for farm families. Take action now, before their inaction hurts your business!

Also, whatever your position might be on the merits of these two, pending pieces of farm-related legislation, I’d welcome your input on this or any topic related to soybean production. When writing, please let me know your name, where you farm or work, what your comment is and whether or not I have permission to use your comment in a future Soybean E-Digest newsletter.

You can contact me (John Pocock) at: john.pocock@penton.com. Thanks for your readership.