Fresh off the success of passing a new farm bill, a host of agriculture-related issues have leapt to the forefront of farm-state lawmaker concerns.

Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, whose constituency lives in a large swath of Delta farmland, says some producers received a nasty shock when preparing taxes this winter. The problem is that last December, the IRC Section 179 small business expensing reverted back to pre-economic stimulus legislation levels. From 2010 to 2013, to the tune of $500,000 annually, farmers were able to deduct the purchase of things like tractors. As of 2014, that amount has dropped to just $25,000.

Reached for comment, Barry Nelson, John Deere spokesman, said the company was well aware of the reversion and supported the higher deduction level.

Does Crawford know of a fix in the works?

“I think the fix would be under the discussions around (an overhaul of the tax code led by Michigan Rep. David Camp, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee). I think that’s our path forward with Section 179, which was detrimental to producers. It left them scrambling at the end of the year.

“We’re hopeful (Camp’s) discussion draft opens the door to get some things done and address the issue on a long-term basis. I think that’s where the focus should be: getting input to Chairman Camp’s draft. His bill is a comprehensive tax reform package that we’ve anticipated for quite some time. He has framed it in such a way that he’s open to suggestions and he’s listening to us.

“At the same time, farmers should weigh in on this. Call me. Call other (lawmakers) and hopefully we can make some progress on tax reform.”

Meanwhile in the Senate, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is who many producers are focusing on. Wyden is expected to soon propose tax-extenders -- including Section 179 – that would retroactively help farmers with equipment purchases.  

What are Crawford’s impressions on the new farm and how it shaped up for the South?

“I’d have certainly liked to have seen it pass (in 2013) the first time it hit the (House) floor before it devolved into the political mess it became. But we did finish it -- that’s the good news.

“It’s a lot better than it could have been. We had some real strong representation at the conference committee. (Mississippi) Sen. Thad Cochran was instrumental. Arkansas Sen. (John) Boozman and I were both fortunate to also be on the conference committee. I think that helped us secure some level of support for Mid-South agriculture that we might not have otherwise gotten. There seems to be a geographic disconnect with respect to the way we farm in the Mid-South versus other parts of the country.

“All in all, I think under the circumstances the bill is better than expected but not as well as we’d hoped for. The livestock sector probably ended up better than they’ve ever been historically. Poultry did well, as well.”

One thing Crawford urges: be patient with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). “The glass is half full. … The FSA just got this bill and, optimistically, it may be six months before they get a handle on it. More realistically it may be harvest-time before we know how this farm bill will work. But please be patient with the FSA and understand they’re playing the hand they were dealt.”