Just days before the World Trade Organization (WTO) is set to approve a billion dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the United States, legislators have released an omnibus spending bill that repeals the country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements that prompted the tariff threats in the first place.
COOL requires meat from other countries sold in the United States to bear a label indicating its country of origin. According to the WTO, COOL violates trade standards and could have led to millions of tariffs on U.S. exporters from Mexico, Canada and possibly other countries.
The WTO, according to POLITICO, was scheduled to approve Mexico and Canada’s tariff plan for the U.S. on Friday.
The 2,009-page bill also includes a provision that ensures the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are based on scientific information and focused on nutritional and dietary information. It would also require a review of the Dietary Guidelines process to ensure a balanced and scientific process in the future.
Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), the state’s largest farm organization, supports the legislation.
"Congress is taking action at year's end on both spending and tax packages that will provide certainty to farmers and ranchers as they plan for 2016 and beyond,” TFB President Russell W. Boening said. “Our advocates in Washington, D.C. have heard the message loud and clear that farmers are tired of stopgap efforts that don't allow them to manage their businesses for the longer term. Texas Farm Bureau urges the Congress to pass these bills."
Funding to support agricultural production, research and marketing programs, rural development, food and drug safety and other programs is also included.
The bill calls for $2.94 billion for agricultural research programs, $898 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), $1.51 billion for the Farm Service Agency, $2.8 billion for rural development programs, over $1 billion for food safety and inspection, $2.72 billion for the Food and Drug Administration and more.
A breakdown of the agricultural impacts the omnibus spending bill could have can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/1Zcq4Wj.
According to The Hill, Republican leaders in the House will likely wait until Friday to call for a vote on the bill.
Before the House considers that bill, it will first consider a $650 billion tax package that includes a provision that would make several tax breaks permanent, including one that would help farmers and ranchers across the nation.
The provision approves the Section 179 Small Business deduction for capital expenses. The deduction is important to American farmers and ranchers who are able to use it to deduct costs like tractors and other equipment.
“This tax extender package gives farmers and ranchers critical tools to help them reinvest in their businesses,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. “Tax provisions like Section 179 small business expensing and bonus depreciation free up cash flow for farmers and ranchers to put their money to work. New provisions will let our members make important upgrades that reduce costs, increase efficiency and help make their businesses sustainable for generations to come.”
According to POLITICO, the provision would permanently cap the deduction at $500,000 instead of $25,000. The 50 percent bonus depreciation provision would also be extended for five years.
"At the end of the day, there's going to be strong bipartisan support for making these tax provisions permanent," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said.
He predicted the legislation would win House approval Thursday.
The 200-plus page bill can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/1ZcElCi.