Hyde Smith: Dems’ plan is a “reckless tax and spend agenda”

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith warned today that the agricultural portion of the Democrats’ evolving $3.5 trillion tax and spend package will worsen issues and threaten the future viability of the nation’s family dairies.

Hyde-Smith is ranking member of a subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture Committee that convened a hearing titled, “Milk Pricing:  Areas for Improvement and Reform.”

Senator Hyde-Smith said that the public has not had any input into this process, especially about most members of the committee and Republicans as a whole. Hyde- Smith said that the $3.5 trillion “reckless tax and spend agenda” is a product being developed by Democratic leadership behind closed doors.

“As we speak, the U.S. House of Representatives is crafting legislation that aims to spend $135 billion or more just within USDA’s jurisdiction on programs the Agriculture Committee oversees. The price tag of the overall bill is $3.5 trillion. This is deficit spending that will be paid for by hiking taxes on family farmers,” Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith said today.

Hyde-Smith pointed out that the Democrats’ plans for agriculture and climate change offer no assistance to the dairy industry. The industry will be harmed by proposed changes in capital gains tax rates and estate taxes, or stepped-up modifications in order to pay for the $3.5 trillion plan.

During today’s Senate Agriculture Committee, Hyde-Smith addressed the hardships on dairy farms in Mississippi, especially during COVID.

Hyde-Smith encouraged her Agriculture Committee colleagues to return to its traditional bipartisan process to address Class I milk price formula changes and other reforms to help family diaries survive price volatility and other problems created by the ongoing pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, dairy producers faced a multi-year period  of low milk and dairy commodity prices,” Hyde-Smith stated. “I’m proud that during the 2020 years of COVID, my colleagues and I advanced bipartisan legislation to support dairy farm families through the pandemic. Many dairy farm families are still in business today because of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) despite the added price volatility and demand uncertainty caused by this unprecedented pandemic.”

On August 24, 2021, the USDA announced additional updates to CFAP. These change included  additional eligible commodities and flexibility to payment calculations for sales-based commodities and eligible livestock and poultry contract producers.

“We cannot afford this additional tax program. These farms that have been in the family for generations, they will be going by the wayside,” Mike Ferguson said. Ferguson is the owner of Ferguson Dairy Farm in Tate County and testified remotely at the hearing.  “On a stepped-up basis, there are farms that have gone up 300 or 400 percent in value and how can we possibly tax these farms at that rate, adding this extra burden to the local farmers.  I just cannot see the logic in that.”

Ferguson stated that any time expenses are increased, you have to look at ways to cut in other areas. Small dairy farmers in the southeast don’t have those resources where they can cut.

Access the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food Safety and Security hearing, including witness testimony, here.