Regulations that affect Kansas’ agriculture producers and the quality of life in rural communities are under review at the federal level.
President Trump created a task force to identify policy changes that would help boost economic growth.
More than 20 cabinet-level and senior members of government agencies are on the Task Force On Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.
One area they’re studying is how the estate tax affects the perseveration of family farms and other agribusiness operations.
Ryan Flickner, senior director of public policy at the Kansas Farm Bureau, says most farms in the state are passed from one generation to the next.
"Over 95% of the farms in Kansas are family farms—they are not corporate," Flickner says. "It is very much a way of life and quite frankly, when it comes to the estate tax and many of these different issues, it will take an act of Congress to pass."
The agriculture task force will also look into policies on public lands for cattle grazing and water rights issues.
Another Kansas issue the task force might take up involves EPA regulations for the annual burning of the Flint Hills. Flickner says banning or trying to eliminate the Flint Hills burning would be devastating to the local ecosystem.
"Without the prescribed fires happening in the Flint Hills, it would turn into an evasive cedar infestation, and that is not what the natural ecosystem of the Flint Hills is," Flickner says. "We hope that the Flint Hills burn requirements and stipulations that would be something this task force could address, as well as issue some guidance and direction to the president and other agencies."
Flickner says farmers are hopeful the task force will encourage a shared vision of farming among the agencies.
"For example, the USDA is taking care of agriculture, but when it comes to air quality or water quality, that’s an EPA issue," he says. "In years past, the EPA has not been a friend to the farmer."
A report is due in six months.
Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity
The purpose and function of the task force shall be to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life, including changes that:
- Remove barriers to economic prosperity and quality of life in rural America
- Advance the adoption of innovations and technology for agricultural production and long-term, sustainable rural development
- Strengthen and expand educational opportunities for students in rural communities, particularly in agricultural education, science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- Empower the State, local, and tribal agencies that implement rural economic development, agricultural and environmental programs to tailor those programs to relevant regional circumstances
- Respect the unique circumstances of small businesses that serve rural communities and the unique business structures and regional diversity of farms and ranches
- Require executive departments and agencies to rely upon the best available science when reviewing or approving crop protection tools
- Ensure access to a reliable workforce and increase employment opportunities in agriculture-related and rural-focused businesses
- Promote the preservation of family farms and other agribusiness operations as they are passed from one generation to the next, including changes to the estate tax and the tax valuation of family or cooperatively held businesses
- Ensure that water users' private property rights are not encumbered when they attempt to secure permits to operate on public lands
- Improve food safety and ensure that regulations and policies implementing Federal food safety laws are based on science and account for the unique circumstances of farms and ranches
- Encourage the production, export and use of domestically produced agricultural products
- Further the Nation's energy security by advancing traditional and renewable energy production in the rural landscape
- Address hurdles associated with access to resources on public lands for the rural communities that rely on cattle grazing, timber harvests, mining, recreation and other multiple uses
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