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Congressional inaction on tax rates high on farmer concern list

By Mike Barnett

As Congress continues to spin in the ruts of indecision and partisan politics, agriculture is left high center as tax rates high on the list of concerns as farmers and ranchers make plans for next year.

The administration has scheduled meetings with leaders of both parties this week to consider the direction of tax policy.

Especially important to farmers and ranchers is the fate of the estate tax, which is zero until Dec. 31 as Congress let the provision expire. However, if this important measure is left unattended, the estate tax will roar back next year with a $1 million exemption and a killing 55 percent tax rate.

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Farm Bill 101

Texas agriculture needs a new farm billBy Gene Hall

As the U.S. House of Representatives begins the process of organizing itself in the wake of an historic election, American farmers realize that the next federal farm bill will be written amidst a sea change in ideology and attitudes toward government.

Normally a conservative lot, farmers have been living with a system that many of them don’t like, but understand that survival depends on it. That is, of course, the federal farm bill. It is a system that seeks to preserve a safety net, moderate food prices and keep enough farmers in business to avoid losing national food security.

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Feral Hogs – “A pest like no other”

By Gene Hall

The Texas feral hog problem, like so many, traces its roots to good intentions—the domestication of a fast growing prolific protein food source. They started out as domestic hogs. Some escaped years ago, others continue to escape and in some parts of my native East Texas, they were raised on open range up until a few decades ago. No one who raised hogs this way ever caught them all.

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Why can’t we engage?

Texas Farm Bureau: Immigration Reform

By Gene Hall

Imagine a championship boxing match. Two heavyweights come to the ring. They talk, smile, touch gloves and retreat to their respective corners. The bell rings. However, neither boxer approaches his opponent to begin the contest. Instead, they throw things at one another: the stool, the water bucket and a blizzard of insults, negative comments and outrageous claims about their own skills, most of which they decline to use in a productive way.

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Governing is choices and compromise. Let’s get to it!

Election Day is next Tuesday and with it, your chance to affect government.  We don’t do politics on this blog, but we do government. We criticize when called for and praise when earned.  Okay, I admit it.  There hasn’t been much to praise recently. 

Texas Farm Bureau: Governing is choices and compromise. Let’s get to it!

The debate on all the cable news shows is over whether or not government, at the federal level is “broken.” Well, Duh.  Of course it’s broken.  It’s never been more broken and frankly we’re seeing a lot of that in Texas government as well.

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There’s never been a better time to die

Estate Taxes

By Mike Barnett
There’s never been a better time to die. As in this year, if your assets total $1 million or more.

Checking in your Book of Life one day early—Dec. 31, 2010 instead of Jan. 1, 2011—could mean a 55 percent discount on the fine your non-spousal heirs will pay.

The good news is—unless the law is changed—no estate taxes will be due if you die this year (talk about a mixed blessing). That’s because the Bush estate tax reforms expired on Jan. 1. The bad news is the estate tax reverts back to pre-Bush levels on Jan. 1, 2011.

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