Dairy cooperative reacts to farm provisions in omnibus funding bill

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
The US Capitol Building is seen at dusk in Washington on Feb. 6.

GREEN BAY -  Brody Stapel, president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, today spoke out about the inclusion of two important farm provisions in the federal omnibus funding bill.

Section 199

“Fair competition is at the base of any good economic sector. This fix addresses unintended consequences and restores fairness to the purchase of farm commodities including milk, which is something everyone in the dairy community should support,” Stapel said.

Brody Stapel

This provision reverses the elimination of Section 199 in the recent tax reform bill. Section 199 is a deduction that was used by many farm cooperatives that manufacture or produce a product. Co-ops had been able to utilize this tax benefit themselves, but they could also pass on a portion of the deduction to their farmer members. Many dairy farmers enjoyed a tax savings because of Section 199.

In an attempt to deal with what would be a de facto tax increase for some farmers, the deleted Section 199 was replaced by Section 199A in the tax bill. This new section created a deduction for farms that sell to production co-ops, which gave them a more favorable tax treatment than those farms that do not sell to cooperatives. Private buyers of grain and milk, among others, were soon concerned about the imbalance created by Section 199A. The provisions in the omnibus bill would eliminate Section 199A and replace it with a modified version of Section 199, so a return to a slightly scaled back status quo.

Air emissions reporting

"Congress never intended the Superfund law to apply to family farms. This provision ends uncertainty created by an activist lawsuit,” Stapel said.

This is a provision that would continue to exempt livestock farms from reporting air quality requirements under CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act). The Bush, Obama and Trump administrations all agreed that such an exemption should exist.

However, it was imperiled by a decision in a lawsuit filed by environmental activist groups. The impact of that decision has been repeatedly delayed and this provision would prevent any government money from being spent to create or enforce any regulation requiring CERCLA reporting from livestock farms.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative provides nearly 800 dairy farmers in nine Midwestern states with a strong voice — the voice of milk — in Congress, with customers and within their communities.