President Trump this afternoon signed into law the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government through September 30, avoiding a government shutdown. The House on Thursday voted 256-167 to approve the bill, which the Senate followed early Friday by a vote of 65-32. The measure provides $1.3 trillion in appropriations and includes all 12 of the annual appropriations bills for this fiscal year.

Of particular interest in the bill to the U.S. broiler industry are three provisions: Section 199A (tax law), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and animal transportation.

Section 199A

An agreement was reached to reverse an error in December’s tax law that was helping farm cooperatives and hurting their competitors.  Included in the tax law passed in December, farmers who sell grain and other products to cooperatives get a much larger deduction than if they sell to a private or investor-owned company, because they could deduct 20% of gross sales instead of 20% of net income.  Clearly, this gave producers an incentive to sell to cooperatives rather than to private companies.  The significant advantage given to cooperatives was “inadvertent” and Congress has been working on a change since January.  The proposal would cap a farmer’s deduction at 20% of net income, excluding capital gains. Farmers could also get an additional benefit from deductions at cooperatives where they are members. The provision is generally retroactive to the beginning of 2018.  The spending bill doesn’t make changes to other parts of the 2017 tax law, but it does include technical corrections to tax laws going back to 2004.

CERCLA

Additionally, the omnibus includes language to protect American poultry and livestock producers from burdensome EPA reporting under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  This language restores the on-farm exemption for reporting air emissions from manure under CERCLA.  NCC has been working closely with the House and Senate on advancing standalone legislation to accomplish this same feat which has now been included in the omnibus.

Animal Transport 

The omnibus prohibits funding to implement regulations requiring livestock haulers to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) on their trucks to monitor time spent driving. This temporary exemption will allow the livestock and poultry industry more time to work with the Department of Transportation to address the unique challenges facing haulers. The livestock and poultry industries have been concerned for the welfare of their animals, exposure to potential disease threats, and costs to the industry.

Other provisions include: 

  • An $80 billion increase in military spending over 2017 levels. The defense funding includes a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware;
  • $1.6 billion in funding for construction of a border wall, but that number is far short of the $25 billion in long-term funding that the Trump administration sought;
  • Increased funding for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  However, there are significant restrictions on how that new money may be spent.  Democrats won limitations on hiring new ICE interior enforcement agents and on the number of undocumented immigrants the agency can detain;
  • More than $4.65 billion across agencies to help states and local governments regarding the opiod epidemic; and
  • $380 million to the Federal Election Assistance Commission to improve election security and technology as well as $300 million in counterintelligence funding to combat Russian hacking.

 

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