Bill In House Proposes Tax Credits For Farmers

A bill within the House is proposing to establish federal tax credits for farmers who invest in nutrient recovery systems.

The Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act was introduced in the House last week by bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc., and cosponsor U.S. Rep. Tom Reed. Bipartisan legislation aims to promote new technological investments that produce energy and limit runoff into waterways.

The proposal could benefit farmers within the Chautauqua Lake watershed and elsewhere by making nutrient recovery systems like manure digesters more affordable. Manure digesters collect manure and convert the energy stored in its organic matter into methane.

Reed, R-Corning, said during a Monday conference call that the proposal looks to address phosphorus and nitrogen, which are entering Chautauqua Lake and other waterways throughout the country.

“From my perspective, this type of legislation allows us to develop a technology that eventually could be commercial and stand on its own in regards to addressing environmental concerns like what we see in Chautauqua Lake and elsewhere,” Reed said. “Rather than dictate the parameters of what investments look like, we kind of deployed on the front lines through the tax code so folks dealing with these emerging technologies have the flexibility to make the necessary investments in order to advance that technology.”

Language within the bill states a qualified manure resource recovery property would be able to receive a tax credit. That includes properties comprising a system which uses physical, biological, chemical, thermal or mechanical processes to recover at least 50 percent of nutrients. Properties that use biological reactors, crystallizers, evaporators, decanter centrifuges, equipment that facilitates the process of dissolved air flotation or a thermal drier that treats recovered nutrients would be eligible for the tax credit.

“This benefits society by decreasing nutrient runoff in waterways, decreasing farm odors and improving water quality,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO for the National Milk Producers Federation.

Legislation was referred to the House Energy Subcommittee as well as the Ways and Means Committee. Thirty-one cosponors have signed on to the bill. An identical bill sits in the Senate.

Another bill is nearing introduction to provide tax incentives to employers who provide apprenticeship programs. Reed said he’s getting ready to drop the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Program bill into the House. Legislation would offer a federal tax credit to employers who provide apprenticeship programs to individuals.

Reed said the purpose of the bill is to encourage the development of apprenticeships while recognizing and supporting existing ones. Reed said there’s a gap between open positions and the skills needed to get jobs.

“Essentially we’ve seen reports of about nine million unemployed Americans and yet there’s five million job openings,” he said. “A lot of the disconnect results from this situation of not having the skills necessary to fulfill the open positions.”

An employer would get a $1,000 credit for apprentices in their program who are over 25 or a $1,500 credit for an apprentice under 25.

Apprenticeship programs are approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. Reed said most programs are designed by employers and trade unions to promote workforce development.


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