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Time for a “time out”—for Congress and the country

Time for a “time out”—for Congress and the country

By Gene Hall

For only the third time since Mike and I began this blog, I feel compelled to let you know the opinion you are about to read is mine and mine alone.

I’ve been working for Texas’ farm and ranch families for 35 years. I’ve watched the development of six farm bills. Some bitter fights ensued, but they were always considered “bipartisan.” Both liberal and conservative members of Congress could point to achievements in our national farm policy. Farmers were protected from awesome risks. The hungry were fed with food stamps in the bill. All consumers benefited from affordable food.

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‘No’ is not acceptable for farm bill

‘No’ is not acceptable for farm bill

By Gene Hall

The farm bill should be an easy vote, easily explained back home.

There is not any jobs bill on which Congress could vote that will sustain more jobs than a farm bill. These jobs range from the farm gate to port cities. From truck terminals and railheads to hometown grocery stores, jobs are the legacy of farm bill legislation. There are jobs in urban centers and jobs in small farm towns—jobs dependent on farming.

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Immigration reform takes Texas-sized courage

Immigration reform takes Texas-sized courage

By Gene Hall

Last week I was in Washington, D.C., and had the pleasure of interviewing U.S. Representative John Carter, who represents the 31st District of Texas. Congressman Carter, along with fellow Texas Congressman Sam Johnson, is working hard on the U.S. House version of an immigration reform bill for our country.

It takes some Texas-sized courage to stick your neck out on a heated issue like immigration reform in Congress. For agriculture, though, a legal guest worker program is the difference between harvested crops and lost opportunity. No workers in the field… No crops from the field… No food for the people.

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Death tax agreement makes life easier

Death tax agreement makes life easier

By Mike Barnett

The cost of dying would have been a lot higher on Jan. 1 if Congress hadn’t stepped in at the last minute and dealt with the estate tax—commonly known as the death tax in farm country.

The certainty of what was passed into law and signed by the president beats the disastrous consequences if Congress hadn’t acted. We were looking at a $1 million exemption with an onerous 55 percent tax rate for the beginning of the New Year. That placed a bull’s eye squarely on the backs of almost every Texas farmer and rancher and would have taxed their heirs out of business.

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Fearless agriculture predictions for 2013

Fearless agriculture predictions for 2013

By Mike Barnett

Whew, I’m glad 2012 is over. Elections, drought, bickering in Washington, no farm bill. 2013 has to be better. Doesn’t it? Here are my fearless agriculture predictions for 2013.

January: Voters push Congress over a physical cliff because we’re just tired of it all.

February: Rains bring widespread smiles to farmers and ranchers across the Lone Star State.

March: Voters respond favorably to initiative in Midwest that requires Humane Society of the United States to spend 90 percent of their funds taking care of homeless animals.

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