Farm Bill A Key Issue at Farm Bureau Convention

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The farm bill was the hot topic at the Nebraska Farm Bureau's annual convention this year. It's also what many Nebraska farmers and ranchers said is the biggest issue on their minds.

"Trying to get the farm bill passed, it continues to be a big effort of ours," said Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

But Nelson also noted the passage of a new farm bill before the end of the year may be more difficult now because Congress is busy trying to resolve the fiscal cliff issue.

"Just what the effect on the farm bill would be is uncertain. There's a wide range of thoughts, but most of all those are negative. It would mean less money for the farm bill and make it more difficult to get a good farm bill passed," Nelson explained.

Beyond the farm bill and the fiscal cliff, farmers and ranchers said they're also concerned with issues such as increases in the estate tax. Young farmers and ranchers, in particular, said a hike would greatly affect their ability to continue family operations.

"That's a big issue for us because that estate tax is going to be coming back into play, it'll really affect how we can continue farming, because a lot of us are coming back to family operations, which means the land is owned by the generations before us," said farmer Anna Hunnicutt.

Economic policy analyst Ross Korves expanded on the issue: "The estate tax does very little to the economy in the short run because there aren't that many people that die each year that have large agriculture estates, so in terms of the overall economy, it doesn't mean much. But in terms of the individual farming and ranching families affected, it's a huge deal."

The convention also held workshops on farm succession and how to share your agriculture story.